With the demise of the great Shipping Companies, aspirant young officers have gradually been generated from Marine classes in Third level Colleges and Universities.
When they enter their courses, they do not have a sponsoring company until the said educational establishments gather together Shipping Companies willing to interview the new classes and hopefully make their selection. In due course, students are allocated to the selecting company and continue their training with a mix of sea time and college time. It seems to me that the college time takes precedence in order to achieve the college qualification with minimal sea time to acquire an OOW certification. My own sea time at 2nd Mates F G was three years, two months and 23 days.
While the syllabus is laid down at a Governmental level, I feel the newly qualified officer is short on experience on ship knowledge and requires considerable mentoring for his/her first few months on board. However, the new environment on board has now become electronic operations room orientated with digitised chart systems, radar and real time communications / returns to and from the ship to owners and agencies. This environment has no chance of becoming static as technical companies are continuing to expand requirements to meet needs that their R and D perceive to be commercially foistable aboard ships
. The latest, is a new satellite based tracking and two way data system with worldwide coverage. They are not in the least concerned that the satellites for the system don’t yet exist or have a launching agency. Overall, the young officer and apprentices are more and more having their seaman type skills and the sixth sense developed by mariners, replaced by an inward looking techno-environment with diminishing spatial awareness needed by practical seamen. Perhaps Syllabii should be more rigid and ships equipment restricted to the needs of safe navigation, and less packing of ships with real time data links which will come at a high per byte price in any event.
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