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How to Become a Dynamic Positioning Operator With an Unlimited Certificate

The energy companies have stopped many offshore projects, where DP operators were needed due to the global oil crisis. Thus, finding a vacancy is nowadays rather complicated, despite the expanding gas carrier market (VLGC). However, you may feel it is the right time to invest in training for a new qualification. There are still rigs out there which need supplies and maintenance.


What is a Dynamic Positioning Operator Doing?

DP operators are certified to operate vessels which use a dynamic position system, which keeps the position of a vessel at a point against currents and waves.

Close to rigs this is crucial as the biggest danger is a vessel drifting into/ramming an oil or gas rig. Hence all vessels which operate nearby to rigs, are required to use DP in order to stay safe, especially diving support vessels (DSV); anchor handling tug supply vessels (AHTS); and platform supply vessels (PSV).

To become a DP operator you need training certificates and practical training. In total, you will spend 120 days operating a DP vessel. Depending on your working position, further certificates such as BOSIET (Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training) might be required.


The 5 Steps to become a DP Operator

1) The first step is to sign up for DP induction training which is a basic course aimed at the likes of deck officers and engine officers who are working toward an STCW certificate of competency (COC/CEC). Depending on the school and country, training may cost between $ 1000 and $ 2000. After starting the class, you have four years in which to obtain the unlimited DP operator certificate.

This course duration is approximately five days. You will acquire the basic knowledge about dynamic positioning, such as:

Understanding ship movements, sensors and position reference systems.
DP principles and familiarization with DP elements.
Familiarization with various DP computers.
Understanding redundancy and power supply.

2) After obtaining the course certificate you will need to gain practical knowledge by working for 60 sea time days on a DP vessel (can be DP Level I) of which at least 75% must be in active DP operation (active propulsion). You may be hired as JDPO (junior dynamic positioning officer) operating in a low risk area.

As a  JDPO you will be supervised by the senior DPO and follow his command. Typical tasks include: navigational watch; maneuvering the vessel towards the location; judges and records environmental factors which could influence the vessel and the safety of its operation; and reacting to anomalies (as instructed by the senior DPO). You will receive a company confirmation letter.

This practical experience will grant you the required knowledge in theory and praxis.

3) Now you are qualified to participate in the advanced DP course, sometimes known as the DP simulation course. The course takes place over approximately four days and requires an investment of approximately $ 2000. An optional STR course (sea time reduction) can be included, one week’s STR lowers the necessary sea time by 30 days.

During the course, various construction exercises will be simulated and you will be taught how to prepare plans for a DP project, including risk assessment and contingency plans.

4) After passing the DP advanced simulator course you have to serve 180 days of sea time as watch-keeping trainee. The number of days can be reduced by booking special training (an STR course). The minimum requirement is 60 days.

In contrast to the very first practical training, the vessel must have a DP Level II or III, otherwise your dynamic positioning operator certification will be limited to DP I ships. However, you must serve at least 60 days onboard a DP II/III vessel.

When successfully completing your service time the master will issue a certificate of suitability, including remarks from the chief of DP operations. Any limited certificate can be upgraded by gaining additional practice and an additional statement of suitability.

5) A recognized facility such as the Nautical Institute will issue your DP operator validation certificate after receiving your certificate of suitability.


* Sea time dates valid from 01 January 2015


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What's in it for the crew? The current market situation analysed.
End-of-Year 2016 Review
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