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Nautical Institute’s New Guidance to Master of DP Vessels

Nautical Institute’s New Guidance to Master of DP Vessels

Nautical Institute’s New Guidance to Master of DP Vessels

The Nautical Institute recently published new “Guidance to Masters of DP vessels” to assist Masters assessing the suitability of a DPO candidate to keep a DP watch on the vessel. The Master traditionally is best suited to make the final assessment of a candidate for this fifth and final phase of the Nautical Institute’s DP training Scheme.

The guidance focuses on a candidate’s competence in the following areas:

  • Ability to set the vessel up on DP in a satisfactory manner, using the appropriate facilities for the transfer from conventional manual control into DP joystick control, thence into full auto–position mode
  • Ability to operate the DP system in all of its modes of operation (eg follow target, autotrack etc)
  • The setting-up and use of all position reference systems, both individually and in combination. Recognition of the merits and limitations of individual PRS
  • The function of the various peripheral systems associated with the DP system (eg wind sensors, MRUs, gyro compasses)
  • The use of facilities for the manoeuvring of the vessel; changing position and heading, selecting suitable values for velocity, rate-of-turn, gain, etc
  • A comprehensive knowledge of all the functions, facilities, operational controls and selections available at the system panel or desk. All DP systems are different; DPOs should be fully conversant with the system in their own vessels
  • A practical understanding of the levels of redundancy in the vessel systems, with particular reference to the vessel’s FMEA
  • An ability to manoeuvre the vessel in both joystick mode, and in conventional manual mode. This is essential. Watchkeeping DPOs must be familiar with the shiphandling characteristics of their own vessel, and must be practised in such techniques. The DPO may be faced with the task of extracting the vessel from location in severe weather conditions, after the DP system has suffered partial or total failure
  • Ability to manoeuvre the vessel in manual mode in a degraded status (ie without the full spread of thrusters available, or with severe power restrictions)
  • While engaged in DP operations in deteriorating conditions, recognise the appropriate time for the operation to be suspended on safety criteria
  • Recognising a variety of failure modes, and subsequently making the correct responses and decisions
  • Ability to interpret the variety of messages generated by the systems, eg warning, alarm and information messages
  • The functions of the ship’s power management system.

The complete guidance document is available at