Recent months have seen the International Marine Contractors Association develop updated guidance for dynamic positioning operators and operations and provide important input into the work programme at the International Maritime Organization
As briefly highlighted on a number of occasions by OSJ earlier this year, the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has been updating its own guidance and providing important input into IMO requirements regarding training of dynamic positioning (DP) personnel.
The IMCA document in question, Guidelines for the Training and Experience of Key DP Personnel or M 117 as it is usually known, was recommended by an IMO sub-committee to be approved by the Maritime Safety Committee when it meets in June 2017. The IMO committee is also set to approve the revised IMO 645 circular, covering the guidelines for designing and operating vessels with DP systems, when it meets.
As Andy Goldsworthy, technical adviser marine at IMCA told RMM’s European Dynamic Positioning Conference in February, its aim in updating M 117 was, seemingly, simple: to improve the safety and efficiency of DP operations.
Explaining what was involved in the update of M 117 and how IMCA is involved with IMO’s own work on its guidelines for vessels with DP systems and how IMCA has consolidated a number of resources on DP annual trials into one simplified document, Mr Goldsmith said IMCA was aware that, although it sounds relatively simple, its stated aim is actually a bold one. “We want to improve the safety and efficiency of DP operations by defining minimum industry guidelines for training, qualifications and competence levels of key DP personnel and developing and sustaining competence through continuous professional development (CPD) for key DP personnel,” he explained. “Achieving this seemingly simple objective was actually a complex undertaking, but with the majority of offshore DP vessels being operated by IMCA member companies, providing the guidelines are followed, our aim is achievable.”
So what’s new in M 117? “We have completed the second major revision of this document, and while its core content remains unchanged, there are some significant updates,” he told the conference. “The guideline now takes account of the additional dynamic positioning operator (DPO) training schemes that are available, suggesting alternative content and formats for training, rather than making sole reference to the Nautical Institute scheme. Additionally, the requirements for training key DP technical personnel are better defined.
“A new section has been inserted that more clearly sets out the roles that are considered to comprise ‘key DP personnel’. This new section introduces the important role of a company DP authority. Section 9, previously entitled ‘Principles and practice for maintenance of personnel skills’, has been retitled and completely rewritten in a new section (10) ‘Key DP personnel continuous professional development (CPD)’. This change was as a result of it being recognised that CPD – the systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge, understanding, personal qualities and skills throughout an individual’s working life – is now used in many industries. IMCA uses CPD as one of the measurements when accrediting vessel inspectors within the eCMID scheme (the electronic version of the Common Marine Inspection Document (CMID). It is anticipated that the level of competence of personnel will improve as more companies are encouraged to embrace the principles of CPD.
Mr Goldsmith said the updates to M 117 (Rev 2) were well received, and the guidance continues to be regarded as industry standard. This is evidenced by the fact that IMO MSC/Circ.738/Rev.1 Guidelines for Dynamic Positioning System (DP) Operator Training, which recognised M 117’s first revision, is being updated to reflect the changes in Rev 2.
Further to this, on 3 February 2017, the IMO Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 4) also decided to make a reference to M 117 in the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Code. However, the work with IMO doesn’t stop there.
IMCA has been involved in a project with IMO for a number of years to revise IMO Circular 645 Guidelines for Vessels with Dynamic Positioning Systems. The initial submission proposing the revision was made by IMCA, the International Association of Drilling Contractors and the US to IMO MSC 90 in February 2012. A workgroup of subject matter experts (SMEs), led by IMCA, submitted proposed amendments to the Ship System and Engineering (SSE 2) sub-committee in December 2014.
IMO decided that the work to revise the document could be undertaken by SMEs as part of a correspondence group. This group was formed under the direction of Norway and submitted its final report to the SSE 4 sub-committee in March 2017. It is anticipated that the amended version of IMO 645 will be accepted by the IMO Marine Safety Committee at its meeting in June 2017.
Mr Goldsworthy said the revised content is in line with modern thinking on operational and testing techniques and will see the conclusion of the revision five years after the first submission to IMO.
He said the revision has resulted in an increase in the number of definitions contained from nine to 26. “To ensure consistency in future IMCA guidelines and revisions, we will match the definitions used in IMO 645,” he explained. The changes reflecting design concepts will only be introduced for vessels built after the introduction of the revised guidelines. However, the operational and training part of the guidelines should apply to all DP vessels including those already in operation.
The functional requirement changes include:
. the requirement for at least one automatic power management system (PMS) and the possible use of alternative energy storage for sources of power to thrusters
. a new sub-section emphasising the required isolation and integrity of DP systems from other onboard computer systems.
Operational requirements bring in:
. the need to make use of current decision support tools such as activity-specific operating guidelines (ASOGs) and capability plots and the requirement of a blackout recovery procedure, including a list of critical components
. for the first time the guidance highlights the requirement for equipment class 2 and 3 vessels to carry out a failure modes and effects analysis.
There will be a new section on training that refers to the provisions of the STCW Code and MSC/Circ.738.
Another area of DP in which IMCA offers well respected guidance, which is used throughout the industry, is that of DP annual trials. Over the years, a number of documents have been added to IMCA’s range of guidance on the topic. To make the requirements more readily understood, IMCA has consolidated these resources into one document, with simplified terminology. The amalgamated document will keep the IMCA number M 190 but has an updated title, Guidance for Developing and Conducting DP Annual Trials Programmes, and covers a DP annual trials programme for a five-year period.
The specific guidance for mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs), which previously featured in IMCA M 191, has been included as an appendix in the revised M 190.
Publication of the revised M 190 will see the following documents withdrawn:
. Guidance for Developing and Conducting Annual DP trials Programmes for DP Vessels: Executive Summary (M 190A)
. Guidelines for Annual DP trials for DP Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (M 191)
. Example of an Annual DP Trials Report (M 212).