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Maritime Training

Take advantage of the tide…


By Mark R. DuPont

Chief Operations Officer,


Understanding latest trends is key to effective maritime training.

In this ever-evolving world, change is omnipresent and constant: change in climate, in leadership, in policies, in culture, in recruits, in technology, in communication. Change affects what you do, how you do it and whom you do it with.

This, in turn, puts additional pressure on us as maritime professionals to keep up with change, let alone get ahead of it. It is cumbersome and challenging to keep up with the latest and greatest (the incoming tide) and to recognize what is yesterday’s tactic, technique or procedure (the outgoing tide).

Here, we’ll look at how training (applicable for security, safety, stevedoring, operations, environmental response, effectively all specialized jobs in the maritime field) has evolved in general, what are some of the current challenges in the maritime environment, and then focus on recommendations for our ‘fluid’ workplace. It’s all about what could help you, your area of responsibility and the professional community as we try to keep up with the shifting tides around us.

We know that the evolving environment, increasing complexity, differences in culture, advancing tools and technology, and the outcomes of those changes – morale issues, mishaps, mission failures, public/customer dissatisfaction, etc – require us to look at our training and see where we can close the gap (or respond to the incoming tide).

Minimal training needed to complete certification for port facility security officers or vessel/ship security officers could be a mere 16 hours, depending on the course provider. For comparison, to become a licensed barber in the State of Florida one must attend a barber school and successfully complete a minimum of 1,200 hours of training. Are your personnel, most critical to your daily operation, either trained to the minimum or trained enough to respond effectively to whatever situation comes their way?

Developing a training solution: the TIDE process
The reference to tides in earlier paragraphs was intentional. Not only does a tide represent change, but TIDE as an acronym represents how to develop a training solution, accomplished in four easy steps:

T = Take a break, take note, take charge
Sometimes we get so caught up in what is going on around us that it’s hard to see what’s coming or going. So try to step back and take a break. Step away from the clutter and confusion and take note of what is going on, what your challenges are and what you have at hand. Take note of what changes are starting to have an effect on you or your agency. Take note of the challenges as well as the resources that you have working on your side working for you. Sometimes we lose sight of what’s right in front of us and what is often our most important assets. How are your training staff and are they able to keep up with the changes and challenges? Once you’ve taken a breath and looked around, step forward and take charge of the issue. Don’t let a performance gap or problem fester. You have an obligation to your people, your agency and to the people you serve to make sure you and your fellow officers are properly prepared. Make it happen.

I = Identify the training need
What is it that you have to change or what change do you have to react to? Is it a new piece of equipment, a new technology, a new platform that you will be operating? Is it the fact that your maritime training has diminished over the years and you need to revitalize it? Identify the problem or performance gap through a thorough needs assessment and analysis. Identify potential solutions to the problem. Make sure you articulate how this solution closes the performance gap or effects the change that you want it to. People making decisions – or questioning your decisions – always like it when you have the proven data and process to prove the validity of your steps and your proposed solution. Identify the resources that you have to address this issue, either internally or outside your organization. Influence the change through your people and your superiors. If you’ve carried out a good needs assessment and identified the proper resources and course of action, you can start influencing change.

D = Decide
Decide to change what you are doing or not doing. Decide on the solution that will rectify your performance gap. If you can’t make it happen immediately due to budget or other constraints, decide on an action that will mitigate the risk over time or gradually. Decide on the standards that you will implement or follow. In our world of commercial shipping, we understand the need for standards. They help ensure that we do our jobs in an effective and efficient manner that is recognized by others. This helps protect our people, our organization and our nation. Implementing or adopting a corporate, regional or national standard can also eliminate the guesswork of training.

E = Execute and evaluate
Execute the training plan. And once it gets going, evaluate. Check to make sure it is bringing about the change that you wanted it to. Is the performance gap being corrected? Are we now training to a national standard that mitigates our risks?

Look at the TIDE, note what state of the TIDE you’re in, if it’s incoming or outgoing, and remember that what you do will make a difference on the water.