Superyachts: professionalism, manpower and training

30 Сен

Публикация посвящена вопросам, связанным с профессиональным управлением суперъяхтами, в частности, предупреждению аварийных чрезвычайных морских происшествий, организации рейсов, управлению экипажем, в особенности, обеспечению его обучения, подготовки и тренированности, менеджменту судов, а также обзору мирового флота яхт. Особенное внимание уделяется автором британской юрисдикции.

The vessels on which crew in the superyacht sector serve have changed dramatically since the mid-1990s as the market has increased in size, design, and complexity. How have the training and certification requirements for crews kept pace?

In the UK, until the early 90s, hiring and manning in this sector was mostly left up to the owner/ manager independent of any regulatory body. Although there was a UK requirement that fully trained merchant officers should be employed on Red Ensign yachts over 80GRT, this was in essence ignored by almost everyone. Even on yachts for charter, it was quite common for crew to have few or no formal qualifications, from the Captain downwards. Of course there were yacht crew in this period who held merchant navy training, but they tended to be in the minority and there was little premium placed on hiring them over a less qualified candidate.
In the early 1990s the UK maritime authorities woke up to the fact that the superyacht industry was booming and that a number of larger, complex yachts were being commissioned used for both private and charter use. The result was the UK regulations for Vessels in Commercial Use for Sport and Pleasure, meaning that yachts for charter of over 80 GRT were now considered to be commercial vessels.
However, very few yachts would have been able to operate under this legislation even if they w anted to, as there was no ready supply of merchant officers aware of the yacht market or looking to join the sector. Owners also wanted to keep their existing captains and crew, who had mostly been serving on board their yachts without issue.

Sailing Yacht A, one of the many superyachts making use of cutting edge design (image: istockphoto)
Faced with the prospect of a number of superyachts operating illegally in what was already approaching a billion dollar industry, the UK Marine Safety Agency, as it then was, took a global lead in creating a training and certification path for captains already serving on yachts, but without formal qualifications. Over the past two decades, this has led to a multi-layered approach towards providing a pathway for deck and engineering seafarers to become licensed to serve on yachts of any size or gross tonnage.

For yachts under 3,000 CRT with a 12 passenger limit, deck and engineering officers typically tend to hold a Yacht Restricted Certificate of Competency. Shore-side training is provided via modular courses generally conducted over five days, covering celestial navigation, stability’, business and law, for example. Only the GMDSS and navigation/radar/ARPA modules run into a second week.
Onboard training requires the completion of an OOW training record book (TRB). The quality of onboard mentoring varies from very competent to non-existent, depending on the level of engagement from senior officers. There is no established legacy of training and mentoring on board yachts as many of the older captains/senior deck officers were not exposed to mentoring in their own formative years.
For some, the training record book is no more than a collection of signatures, with little proof of the level of mentoring/onboard teaching provided.
Yachts over 3,000 CRT must be manned by officers with unlimited Certificates of Competency (CoCs), who have attended full-time training in nautical establishments culminating in exams. These officers will have been exposed to continued mentoring and schooling both shipside and shoreside with close supervision of TRBs.
As with all CoCs, there is currently no regulatory requirement for formal reassessment of navigational/ seamanship skills later in the career of any deck officer (including Master). As long as the sea time requirement is fulfilled when the CoC is revalidated, the CoC issuing state assumes that critical knowledge and skill sets remain current.
Formal navigation/seamanship skill assessments are rarely if ever undertaken in the yacht sector, and rarely form part of any hiring or annual assessment process.
Compounding this potential loss of skill sets is the fact that many yachts have only one cruising season so sea time can be quite limited on a yearly basis.
Stability concerns and other issues
Having served as a relief captain on a number of yachts, it is clear to me that core areas of critical knowledge are not being practised or have been lost. For example, the vessels stability booklet is rarely understood or used in any meaningful way by deck officers. In general, it is hard to load a yacht so that IMO minimums for GM and GZ values for intact stability are breached. On the other hand, there are a number of yachts where it is easy to overload when bunkering to full capacity with the water tanks full. 1 have yet to see on any yacht basic stability calculations to include taking draught marks, calculating true mean draft (TMD), and then using hydrostatic data to calculate remaining tonnage available to load to the All Seasons Summer Load Line.
Celestial navigation is rarely practised, even when time allows such as on ocean crossing. Even knowledge of Col Regs/buoyage is being lost for those that do not regularly review and test themselves in these subjects. Empirical studies have shown that 50% of watch keepers believe that poor application of ColRegs is caused by ignorance or wilful disregard of fiiese Rules.
Often onboard training and mentoring is required to return officers to a level of operational competency in such critical skill sets.

Encouraging investment in training

Yacht employer training schemes vary considerably, depending on the interest of the owner/management in investing in their crew. As a result, seafarers in the yacht sector often support themselves while investing in training courses. However, a recent market survey carried out by the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) highlighted that a large number of seafarers in the sector see CPD as a waste of resources, especially as few seafarers feel that it is valued by those that might employ them. It is rare that seafarers are advised that they obtained a position or promotion based on having additional knowledge/training above standard qualifications.
One factor that affects willingness to invest in additional training is that the luxury yacht sector is an image driven environment. There is strong survey ev idence that crew often encounter age bias during the hiring process. This particularly limits emplovment opportunities for those re-entering the market aged 50 and over. Age bias is forcing out a number of time-tested, highly skilled, talented, creative, productive, experienced senior seafarers, in the prime of their careers — whereas in most transport industries top earning power normally comes between the ages of 45-65. With this in mind, individual training investment may start to look less appealing.
The sector needs to realise that seafarers are not innate commodities, and unlike modern technology they generally appreciate with age. Experience is not the same thing as training. You can’t google experience. The challenge is to make the industry realise this and value it appropriately.

The role of the managers

The luxury yacht sector operates to a different set of market forces than the larger shipping world.
No private yacht earns its own living in financial terms and the majority of charter yachts cover at best only a percentage of the yearly capital, periodic maintenance, operating and voyage costs.
Very few yacht owners or their businesses have the maritime skill sets to manage their asset effectively in the wake of ISM, ISPS, MLC, etc. This has led to the rise of numerous yacht management companies w ho generally take on the responsibility as the vessel’s operating owner. T hese companies can vary in size from managing one yacht to over 100 yachts. .Almost none of these yacht management companies actually own the asset (yacht), and they have limited exposure if asset is damaged or lost. Yacht management superintendents and DPAs range from the very competent to the not competent at all, which will have a knock on effect on shore side management understanding of onboard operations.

World yacht fleet

Some of today’s yachts are based on advanced nautical engineering, with Motor Yacht A, for example, designed for waveless cruising, with a reverse bow and tumblehome design paralleling to some degree the zumwalt class of stealth destroyers designed for the US Navy.

The largest private yacht currently afloat, Azzam is 180 metres in length, and has a top speed of m excess of 32 knots. While the latest superyachts may use cutting edge technology, existing vessels are very likely to remain in operation for many years. Although a yacht may be sold for scrap, very few luxury yachts actually end up in the scrapyard. At this valuation level new owners have shown a willingness to invest in large refits bringing an old yacht back to its original state.

Employment concerns

There is a large regulatory difference between commercial and privately operated yachts. Budgets vary considerably even between similar sized yachts, which not only impacts salaries but also the safety emphasis on equipment and crew training. Employment across a fleet is rare, which tends to lead to limited promotion prospects. Even on the same yacht, employment patterns can van- between short seasonal jobs and permanent long periods.
Low job security/high crew turnover is more typical than not, and in these cases operational knowledge is often lost.
Crew hiring decisions are generally made bv the Captain, with the owner/management involved onl\ for more senior positions. While there are a number of specialised yacht crew placement agencies, ven few are staffed by MR trained professionals. A large number of yacht positions are now advertised on the internet, potentially by-passing crew agencies, and competition for places is fierce. There is little ethnic and cultural diversity in yacht crews compared with general shipping.

Cruising patterns

Yachts may operate in several regions in a single year, or be based in one area with long periods in port. Where yachts have a home port, crew may live ashore or on board in port for a large part of the year.
Vessel handovers for senior personnel signing on board for the first time, including captains, can vary from a few hours to several days.
There is almost inevitably a high ratio of crew to passengers — necessary in an industry which requires an exemplary experience for guests. Despite this, constraints arise with Hours of Rest regulations, especially when the vessel is running at full guest/ passenger capacity. It is not uncommon for Hours of Rest to be less than the minimum legally required, or for crew to falsify- records during these periods.
Yachts often make short passages close to the coast. These are frequently near navigational dangers, and in areas experiencing large volumes of traffic especially in high season. Itineraries are often subject to last minute changes despite detailed planning — or may not be planned at all.
There is a considerable risk of criminalisation for Masters, especially on yachts that operate or even anchor in sensitive areas. There is a certain amount of pressure to provide the ‘ultimate guest cruising experience’ by operating in such areas. While relationships with the owner and the family can vary from the close to the distant, it is very hard for the Master to say no to such requests. This can — and has — lead to groundings and large fines.

Casualty rates

Although groundings and similar accidents are relatively rare in the superyacht sector, they are not unknown. The 134m Serene, for example, went aground at speed in daylight somew here south of the Strait of Tiran on the approach to the Gulf of Aqaba, despite being manned by deck officers holding unlimited CoCs — and this is not the first yacht over 100m to have suffered a grounding incident.
Clearly this is not the image that the sector wishes to project, and owners/management will want to limit the public fallout from such events. Ven- few accident reports from the large luxury yacht sector are released in the public domain or are reported to organisations such as CHIRP or MARS. This is in marked contrast to the commercial sector where detailed analysis and the availability of navigational/ operational safety accidents reports are far more regularly and promptly provided.
The facts and figures surrounding an accident, the application of onboard training/positive mentoring, human performance, situational awareness, bridge team management, navigation practices, passage planning, position fixing and monitoring, fatigue, are all key areas in the incident web concerning interaction of the human element and technology. Unfortunately, the data on such accidents is often deliberately withheld and personally I doubt we will ever become privy to much of this information.
Another area in w hich accidents seem to occur with depressing regularity on yachts is working aloft/over the side. Recently, there have been a number of fatal injuries from crew falling whilst working. Yachts do require crew to access masts, raised flats, and to work over the side for cleaning and maintenance. MGN 578 (Overside working on vessels) requires the employer to ensure that crew are competent in the use of the equipment needed for this type of work, but no independent level of training/qualification has been mandated.
Some yachts employ robust training and safety regimes, others less so. just walk around any busy marina and watch crew working aloft and you will witness both safe and unsafe working conditions.
Just as we would not send crew to dive to inspect the underwater hull without suitable qualifications, so we should not send crew to work aloft without the relevant competency.
Clearly, formal onboard training from a shoreside provider in basic leading line/abseiling to include certification would bring yachts in line with best industry practices. If safety training looks expensive, try costing an accident.

The need for further professionalism

As the yachting industry grows and matures, it is hoped that it will move towards greater transparency, with a much improved process of providing data, greater awareness of how accidents occur, and a better understanding of how training and the adoption of lessons learned can improve safety at sea.
We should all be striv ing towards the reduction of such accidents whilst maintaining and building on core skill sets, well past post examination dates.

Автор: Capt. Adrian Croft, MBA, AFNI

Источник: Seaways. — 2018. — August. — P. 8 — 11.