Can the Maritime Hierarchy be challenged?

By Therese Landås, Human Factor Specialist

The hierarchy is a central structure and form of organizing roles, relations and responsibility in the operating field of the maritime organization. There is no doubt that this is a structure which is well established and a natural way of organizing the human resources in the practices of everyday life amongst officers and crew on vessels. Bridge Resource Management, Engine Room Resource Management, are one of the many important courses in accordance to IMO and the STCW convention in which officers on the bridge are trained in increased understanding of human factors in consideration to resource management. Operating a ship requires a clear chain of command as a basis to meet incidents and crisis.

Simsea offers various courses that focuses on resource management and these are courses of high quality and gives the participants an increased understanding of human factors that affect behaviour, interaction and communication, and improve team-working skills as well as develop skills for avoiding misunderstandings and the prevention of incidents. One interesting aspect of looking at resource management then, is to understand the structure in which the resources operate and the human factors which can affect its structure. Let’s take the 2019 IMO campaign, Empowering woman, as a point of departure to answer the question presented here.

As the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping, IMO has lifted a central issue both for the maritime community as well as for the international community at large. The campaign IMO has fronted is to empower women in the maritime community. The goal has been among other to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality in an otherwise male-dominated maritime community.

While the campaign looks to the broad aspect of empowering women by focusing on the gender equality, the recruitment of women to the maritime community and the importance of having women in the organization, it is inevitable to look at how gender is a factor that can cause the experience of social inequality. Throughout history up until modern times, it is a well-known fact that women have been perceived as inferior to male, and the struggle of gender equality is a still a phenomenon of modern time.

Now, when we look at one of the essential structures of the operative field of shipping industry it is the hierarchy which is the leading structure of the organization. A hierarchy is a system in which one person is put in relation to another in a linear structure where persons are arranged according to their importance. The hierarchical structure spells out a clear organization of roles, responsibilities, and nonetheless authority. Hierarchy is also a structural form of organizing people in different societies and cultures, weather in formal systems or in indirect underlying forms which shape the social life of people. Consequently, when looking at differences, we here then look at differences which make a difference and generates a distinction of social inequality. In the latter, it is interesting to look at how a social factor can affect the authority of one person in relation to another.

In the international shipping community, there are many teams on vessels dominated by a broad specter of different nationalities working together. It has become common, and expected, amongst officers to pay attention to “good BRM, Bridge Resource Management” in which looking at the human factors in its micro-dynamic processes, have become essential. When we look at how to work with a good BRM (which effectively have become an expression amongst officers) we are focusing on how every person is both the causing factor of challenges in maritime operation, non-the-less, and more importantly, the great resource to safe, secure and well-executed voyages an operations. BRM is primarily about acknowledging the fact that we are human beings that work with other people and that there are broad aspects of this to be considered. At SIMSEA we focus amongst other on situation awareness, decision making, teamwork and leadership as central elements to good BRM. These processes are shaped by the structure in which they operate: the hierarchy.

While considering the importance of the human factors in maritime operations, it is important then to understand that a person is strongly shaped by the role in which (s)he functions, never-the less, it is important to have knowledge about other social factors that can affect human behavior. Looking at authority then as a central element of hierarchy, it is like ways important to understand what legitimates the right exercise power. Take a ship-to-ship operation as an example. Two essential roles and responsibilities that are played out in a ship-to-ship operation is the role of the Captain and the role of the Mooring master. Roughly speaking, the Captain has the responsibility of the vessel and its team whereas the Mooring master is responsible of the operation. The Captain is the authority. Though, in its micro-dynamic process and complexity of a ship-to-ship operation, to what extent does (s)he exercise the authority given a situation where the Mooring master makes firm suggestions during a ship-to-ship operation of continuing the process based on the knowledges the Mooring master have of local conditions while the Captain is not convinced that the conditions of the operations a acceptable for the vessel? In most cases, the Captain will practice his/hers given authority, however, in other cases, we could be witnessing a Captain that experiences a Mooring master being so convincing in hers/his authority that the Captain chooses not to overrule the decision in the operation.

Now, for the simplicity one can say that the above-mentioned example is question of whose knowledge one makes most relevant in the given operation. However, knowledge is also a factor of power and authority. Furthermore, looking at the roles of the Captain and the Mooring Master, one can also in one way claim that they both have different kinds of authority given the considerations that one have to make towards the vessel, the team on the vessel, the ship-to-ship operation in it selves and the “external” team involved in the ship-to-ship operations for instance when tug-boats are involved etc.

When we talk about whether or not the hierarchical structure in the maritime organization can be challenged, more specifically in the operational field amongst officers and crew on vessels, there are situations which can challenged the well-established structure.  It might be easier perhaps to understand that if we give an example of a situation of crisis on the bridge where the primer authority, the Captain, suffers from a panic attack and is unable to handle the situation or falls ill during an operation. In such case one can say that on the one hand chief officer is obliged to take command, nonetheless, s(he) must first understand the situation and actually take the authority in a given situation. Of equal interest is the factors of the mundane that could challenge the established authority amongst officers and crew on vessels.

Now, returning to the point of departure then, the issue if gender is part of a long history of understanding social organization of society which is subject of interest from an perspective of social anthropology. Age, cast, class, ethnicity, religion are just some of the few complex relations in which there exist an organization of power relation which in a broad specter of different societies worldwide have become expressed in some kind of hierarchy. When we talk about these human factors, we talk about potential pre-dispositions that have the potential to shape the social relations between individuals or groups. To what degree would it affect the relation of authority between a Captain and a Chief officer if the Captain was female and the Chief officer was male, or if the Captain was younger and female and the Chief officer was older and male? There are two answers to this question; yes and no, depending on many other situational factors and non-the-less depending on other human factors.

With great respect for the well-established hierarchy in the shipping community and its social organization, it is imperative to consider human factors that might challenge its hierarchy in specific situations. The human factors might present themselves as aspect of individual personalities or choices or these might be connected to other complex systems of social organizations which touches up-on other system of social organizations.
IMO has rightfully in 2019 given attention to the issue of gender equality, followingly, it is important for all of those who work in the maritime community to continue the good work of gender equality. In the field of human factors in maritime operations it is followingly important to pay attention to factors of gender equality, but furthermore important to pay attention to other forms of social organization that makes a difference. Can the maritime hierarchy be challenged?

By Therese Landås, Anthropologist and Human Factor Specialist, Test and Assessment Center Responsible at Simsea

DP revalidation criteria for 2020 onward

Below you will find Nautical Institute’s (NI) guidelines as per December 2019 for revalidation of your DP certificate. If you have any questions or are in doubt how these guidelines we recommend you to contact Jenny Daintree in NI for clarification. We also recommend you to get any clarification in writing. Simsea will continue to run revalidation courses and you will find actual dates in our booking system You may also contact Lars Gustavsen at +47 913 89 783 for further details.

The Nautical Institute has developed a set of guidelines for those revalidating after the transition period for revalidation finishes on 31st December 2019. These guidelines are to provide information for those who have not yet revalidated their DP Certificate or are due to revalidate for a second time, and the actions required if they wish to revalidate. This guidance particularly applies to:  

DPOs with DP Certificates issued before 2012  
Any DP Certificate issued before 2012 that does not have an expiry date will expire on 31st December 2019.  

DPOs with DP Certificates due for revalidation before 2020  
Any DP Certificate issued after 2012 (and due to expire before 2020) that has not yet been revalidated will also expire on 31st December 2019.  

The following points apply to all DPOs who are revalidating their certificate  

1. DP sea time can only be claimed while a DP Certificate is valid. Time completed after the DP Certificate expires cannot be used towards any revalidation.  

2. A DPO can still apply for their revalidation after the expiry date, however the new certificate will only be valid for a period of five years from the previous certificate expiry date.
3. DPOs may apply after their certificate has expired if they have met the DP sea time requirements for revalidation while their certificate was valid. [This applies to revalidation based on 150 days or more of DP sea time, or revalidation based on less than 150 days of DP sea time, in which case, the person needs to complete the Simulator Course and a minimum of 30 days DP sea time].  

4. If the DPO did not complete the required DP sea time for revalidation before the expiry of the certificate, then the following routes for revalidation are available for DPOs with an expired certificate: Take the Revalidation Course without DP sea time. Standard rules for revalidation with the course still apply.Take the Simulator Course with a minimum of 60 days DP sea time  

5. If a DPO cannot provide any evidence of the DP sea time within the last 10 years, or equivalent occupation or activities as recognised by the NI they will need to repeat their DP training starting with the Basic Course, and complete the training and sea time before a certificate can be issued.

Please see below for example scenarios.

Rent a Simulator, bring your own experts as instructors

A shipping company or sub-sea contractor has a wide range of training needs from ordinary familiarization to handling special operations and inherent risk. In many instances you will have the required coaching competence in your own organization. In some cases, training on board will be a good and efficient solution, in other cases this will be expensive or time-consuming to arrange. In such situations we offer rental of our state-of-the-art Kongsberg simulators.

Our simulators have models of real ships and equipment in daily use onboard. At time being we have models of semi-submersible rigs, shuttle tankers, coasters, anchor handlers, construction ships, ROV control room, shift supervisor station, work ROV, knuckle boom crane, wire luffing crane, diesel/ electric engines for ship and rig, high voltage and LNG bunkering stations. We can rent additional models from Kongsberg Digital’s library and – we can produce special models that has not yet been developed.

The SIMSEA simulators are delivered and updated by Kongsberg Digital and Fugro Intersite and certified by DNV-GL. As per today we have

5 Bridges, K-Sim Offshore with DP, DNVGL Class A

2 DP bridge trainers; NI class A and B (K-Pos, SDP)

6 ECDIS stations/bridges

Ship/rig offshore crane

2 Engine control rooms

1 High Voltage panel (real equipment according to NMA specifications)

1 DeepWorks subsea simulator, including ROV control room (Kystdesign),

All our simulators are integrated and can be used for advanced complex operations. Each simulator can also be used on a stand-alone basis. You will find our simulators very realistic and we provide different natural forces influencing your operations like weather, current, wind and heavy seas. The only thing missing is the fresh sea air.

We provide the necessary support like set-up of simulators for simple exercises or operating the simulator equipment for more complex training needs. We will also provide any administrative support, any documentation of the training and catering.

If you have any questions or want to examine this opportunity in detail don’t hesitate to contact Lars Gustavsen, telephone 913 89 783 or A Rune Johansen at telephone 909 30 668.

Non-conformities, corrective actions and root causes

Operating a ship requires painstaking and continuous planning, training, and preparation and follow-up of procedures. When we operate a ship there is an inherent risk in everything we do , which may lead to some kind of impact ranging from smaller incidents to huge disasters impacting on human life, the environment and material damage.

Any non conformity may harm the shipping company’s relation to its charterer. A risk analysis process is often carried out before hiring a vessel. A low risk vessel is good for business! One incident or non conformity is one too many. Dependent on the seriousness of the incident investigations will be carried out to identify and understand the root causes. This in itself could be a challenging exercise requiring thorough analysis involving different competencies. The same goes for identifying effective corrective actions that includes efficient learning processes and lasting improvements.

And of cause there is a cost side as well in addition to any loss of business due to dissatisfied charterers. Most maritime incidents are covered by insurance. According to CEFOR the insurance companies covered incident cost of approximately 1,5 billion USD in 2015. The policy holders’ own share of this add up to significant sums of money. For material damage the policy holder will have to cover normally 150 000 USD per incident and 16 days off hire. A total cost of 1 million USD for an “average incident” is not too much to put into your budgets.

So, what is the recipe for effective and efficient corrective actions?

The obvious answer is of cause that there is not one single recipe there to help us out. However, we know that human factors are the major root cause of incidents. Of this reason it becomes essential to increase the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the people on-board; their awareness, their ability to assess risk, to avoid it if possible and to handle incidents should it occur, and – their ability to cooperate and communicate . Yet, more and more companies choose to send staff with a bare minimum of training to work, vastly increasing the risk of incidents. 

In most aspects of life, we know that the only way to improve competence and performance is by training. Researchers have found several effective learning practices for adults meaning that grown up people is learning:

  1. when they know why they are learning something
  2. by doing
  3. by solving problems
  4. when the subject is of immediate use
  5. in social interaction
  6. when they can use their life experience
  7. when they can integrate new ideas with existing knowledge

Of cause training on-board will meet the most of these criteria and should be priority number one when it comes to learning normal operations and preventing incidents. However, when it comes to handle those incidents we know will happen someday (and they will; shit happens), there is simply no alternative to simulator training. The simulator training focuses safe handling of critical situations requiring awareness, close interaction and responsiveness in environments very similar to real life on board. The simulated operations are monitored and observed and the participants get feedback and proper debriefing. We can do it again and again until all participants get the good feeling of professional confident in various challenging situations. Simulator training is a way to reduce the risk for human errors especially when absolute precision, perfect teamwork and split-second decisions are needed. But the best of all; simulator training completely risk free!

Some argue that simulator training often is costly. Well, this is simply not the case anymore. Especially when you consider the business case: Less incidents. Look to the shuttle tankers, they do it!

IGF training

Simsea has now got accreditation from the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) to provide both Basic and Advanced training according to the IGF Code. The courses are relevant for masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF code. The courses could also be useful for personnel at LNG farms.

Please note that we as a part of the course run bunkering operations on Kongsberg Engine Room Simulators and that 2 Bunkering Operations at the Advanced course is approved by NMA.

Basic course:

By this course the participants shall gain basic knowledge to be able to contribute to the safe operation of a ship subject to the IGF code. Safe operation includes to prevent hazard, apply occupational health and safety precautions and measures, carry out firefighting, respond to emergencies and to prevent pollution of the environment.  

The content of the Basic course is in accordance with STCW A-V/3-1 including the following aspects of operating ships subject to the IGF code:

  • Rules and regulations
  • Design and operational characteristics
  • Fuel characteristics, fuel systems and fuel storage systems
  • Fuel and fuel storage systems’ operations
  • Physical properties of fuel
  • Safety requirements and safety management
  • Hazards associated with operations and hazard controls
  • Gas-measuring and similar equipment
  • Safe working practices and procedures
  • Fire organization, fuel hazards, firefighting agents and methods including fire-fighting system operation
  • Emergency procedures
  • Measures to be taken in the event of leakage/spillage/venting of fuels

Advanced course:

By this course the participants shall gain familiarity with physical and chemical properties of fuels, competence of operate controls, ability to perform all operations, plan and monitor bunkering of a ship subject to the IGF code. This includes competence to take precautions to prevent pollution, secure compliance with legislative requirements, to prevent hazard, apply occupational health and safety precautions and measures, how to prevent fire and to control firefighting and extinguishing systems.  

The content of the course is in accordance with STCW A-V/3-2 including the following aspects of operating ships subject to the IGF code:

  • Safe bunkering including planning and monitoring
  • Operating principles of marine power plants
  • Ships’ auxiliary machinery
  • Marine engineering terms
  • Design and characteristics of ships, systems and equipment
  • Fuel system theory and characteristics including pumps
  • Effects of pollution
  • Measures to be taken in the event of spillage/leakage/venting
  • MARPOL, other relevant IMO instruments, industry guidelines and commonly applied port regulations
  • Hazard and control measures
  • Safety equipment
  • Safe working practises and procedures
  • Firefighting methods and appliances

Maritime engineers need more training

Simsea has over the years trained thousands of deck officers to avoid and handle challenging situations that can occur on-board a ship. The deck officers typically come from all kinds of trades and ships. We train them in leadership, situation awareness, stress handling, decision making, communication, teamwork, etc. However, and that is a paradox, we very seldom train engineers! Now, our engine room simulators are not in use.

This is primarily a paradox because most incidents on-board a modern ship is caused by issues in the engine room. The incident at Hustadvika in Norway this year where a cruise ship faced server trouble is in fact not a special case. It doesn’t require much fantasy to imagine the stress the engineers must have felt on-board Viking Sky when the ship drifted towards striking rocks or hopefully a solid attachment for the anchors.

Many sailing engineers have no experience from such situations and the sad truth is that nor are they trained to handle them. It is of cause a big difference from day to day routine work in the engine room to problem solving under severe stress. Very capable engineers working as instructors in Simsea confirm this. Most maritime engineers need to be trained in handling engine trouble under server stress. This includes beeing on top of the situation; dicover and understand, and maintain a proactive attitude to the circumstances surrounding them. At the same time they need to be capable of share their observations, understanding and actions with colleagues and bridge to create a shared situation awareness.

Remember, “a safe ship has engineers that can handle a crisis as well as routine work”. Practice makes perfect.

Blended training

Simsea now offers many training courses where we combine simulator training with e-learning. We call this blended training.

So, why do we do this?

In our continuous improvement work we focus on changes that meet our key success criteria:

  • Increased learning outcome
  • Credible documentation
  • Reduced training costs

Our training schemes traditionally consist of a practical doing part and a part where we teach the relevant theory behind the doing. The Practice doing part place in simulators and is prepared by a thorough brief and summed up by a debrief where student reflection is an important element. Most of the theory has been taught in classroom lectures.  An important issue for us has been to find a more effective learning method for teaching theory than classroom lectures often characterized by challenges like students’ mixed motivation, mixed competence and lack of a common terminology.

We have landed on e-learning as our main method for teaching theory. In an e-learning module theory will typically be presented by text, pictures and videos. And – each part of the module will have tests that the student shall have to pass. We run all e-learning on a separate specially designed computer program. Computers facilitates the presentation of educational material according to students’ learning needs, as indicated by their responses to questions, tasks and experiences. In this way e-learning is adaptive, it is student active, it facilitates common competence and terminology and – it assures and document the learning outcome.

Our blended training approach is approved by the governmental bodies like NMA and has been well received by all stakeholders. The customers appreciate it because it means more value for money; the increase in learning outcome, the credible documentation and the reduced costs by reducing number of days at the simulation center. The individual course participant appreciates it because it reduces the stay away from home and family.



A seagoing vessel is subjected to forces from wind, waves and current as well as from forces generated by the propulsion system. The Dynamic positioning – DP automatically maintain the vessel’s position and heading using its propellers and thrusters.


The vessel’s response to these forces, i.e. its changes in position, heading and speed, is measured by the position-reference systems, the gyrocompass and the vertical reference sensors. Reference systems readings are corrected for roll and pitch using readings from the vertical reference sensors. Wind speed and direction are measured by the wind sensors.

The K-Pos dynamic positioning control system calculates the forces that the thrusters must produce in order to control the vessel’s motion in three degrees of freedom – surge, sway and yaw – in the horizontal plane.


The K-Pos system is designed to keep the vessel within specified position and heading limits, and to minimise fuel consumption and wear and tear on the propulsion equipment. In addition, the K-Pos system tolerates transient errors in the measurement systems and acts appropriately if a fault occurs in the thruster units.




Simsea is accredited by Nautical Institute (NI) to provide DP training. The training consists of two courses; DP Induction and DP Simulator. Each course takes 5 days and includes training on our K-POS DP simulators. Candidates have to document a certain amount of seatime between the courses and after before they will get their DP certificate from NI.

Simsea is also accredited to provide DPO certification by DNV GL. The training includes courses and seatime between the courses. In addition, candidates need to take a specialization course for the kind of vessel they will work on. After these courses candidates have to pass a theoretical and practical test before they get their DPO certificate from Simsea.

DP for Cruise Ship

We know that more and more cruise ships use DP instead of anchoring, to assist maneuvering in narrow harbors, etc. You want your DP operators to be well qualified for such operations and we are happy to provide relevant training. We have developed a special DP class 0 training program for this purpose
The Cruise Ship DP training program runs over 3 days and have an e-learning module that participants should take upfront.
After the course participants should be able to:

✔ Have acquired knowledge of the principles of DP.
✔ Have acquired a basic understanding of how to set up a DP system.
✔ Have understanding of the practical operation of associated equipment, including position reference systems.
✔ Be able to recognize the various alarm, warning and information messages.
✔ Be able to relate the DP installation to the ship system, including (but not limited to) power supply, manoeuvering facility, available position reference systems and nature of work.
✔ Be able to relate DP operations to the existing environmental conditions of wind, sea state, current/tidal stream and vessel movement.
✔ Carry out operational planning, risk assessment and hazard identification tasks
✔ Set up the DP system for a particular task
✔ Operate the communications
✔ Analyse the trends
✔ Discuss systems failures
✔ Decide on courses of action because of systems failures
✔ React to alarms and printer readout
✔ Initiate DP Alert status alarms
✔ React to all events occurring
✔ Operate the desk under normal and pressured conditions:

Simsea is an experienced provider of most maritime training courses and is accredited by NMA. Our DP training and DPO certification and are accredited by Nautical Institute and DNV GL.

Booking please use the button below, or contact:
Turid Landås at + 47 94 00 58 80 |

H01 High Voltage training

Simsea in Haugesund provides H01 High Voltage training for electricians approved by NMA. The course has a total duration of 105 hours of which 5 days at center and 47,5 hours as e-learning. The course has been arranged for several years with positive feedback from the participants. The course is divided in two parts

Part 1 is equivalent to H02 and lasts for 70 hours
(3 days at center and e-learning equivalent to 47,5 hours) and includes:

  1. FSE, Ship, low and high voltage
  2. High voltage Ship theory
  3. Rules and regulations
  4. Basic system understanding
  5. Modes of operation
  6. Construction, outfit and equipment
  7. Maintenance of installations and plants
  8. Connections, tools and cable clips
  9. Danger related to equipment on-board
  10. Use of high-voltage indicators and grounding devices
  11. Operation planning and preparation of procedures
  12. Demonstration of management and operational skills
  13. Auxiliary equipment and calibration
  14. Maintenance and switching procedures and check lists

Part 2 lasts for 35 hours and includes:

  1. Rules and regulations
  2. Basic system understanding
  3. Modes of operation
  4. Construction, outfit and equipment
  5. Generator operation, synchronization, adjustment load/power factor.
  6. Maintenance of installations and plants
  7. Connections, tools and cable clips
  8. Danger related to equipment on-board
  9. Use of high-voltage indicators and grounding devices
  10. Operation planning and preparation of procedures
  11. Demonstration of management and operational skills
  12. Auxiliary equipment and calibration
  13. Maintenance and switching procedures and check lists
  14. Maintenance of High voltage equipment, switching procedures and checklists.
  15. UPS systems, functioning and operation
  16. Emergency shutdown systems, philosophy and functioning (ESD)(cause & effect.)
  17. Practice, demonstration and perform termination/end mounting and connection of high voltage cables, performed in workshop.

We run the courses in week 35, 39, 42, 46 and 49 in 2019 but can set up courses at other times it required by customers.
For more info and booking use this link, or contact Turid Landås at
+47 940 05 770 or Please note that we offer an attractive accommodation package here in Haugesund.