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IMPROVEMENT of special training for personnel of PASSENGER SHIPS
Recommendations after the COSTA CONCORDIA’s disaster.

References :


       Following the spectacular accidents of some passenger ships HOFE (Herald Of Free Enterprise) 1987 - SCANDINAVIAN STAR 1990 - ESTONIA 1994 - JOOLA 2002) and since the STCW amendments 95, special training for crews of passenger ships were introduced into the convention and detailed in the STCW Code. These provisions were included in the European regulation shown above.

       It concerns training of passenger ships crew members (liners and ferries) to manage emergencies and more particularly, to assist the passengers in the event of crisis or evacuation of the ship… topical subject isn't?

       All the ship-owners today ensure that their sailors are at least trained in accordance with the STCW convention and … anyway they do not have the choice!

       These training courses are however different according to the assignment of the seafarer and his responsibilities in the ship’s emergency plan. It is planned for example that the kitchen assistant, the hotel manager and the deck officer will not receive the same training due to their different responsibilities in the contingency plan.
These are «special training requirements for passenger ships»
       IMO, always working in the right direction, had to consider the various types of ships because, during an emergency, we do not manage 500 passengers in the same way on a 50 meters long catamaran and 5000 passengers and 2000 crew members on a liner 360 meters long or more!

The Regulation V/2 of STCW 2010 defines now 4 different training requirements:

Training course N° 1 :
Mustering passenger control -entitled more precisely "Crowd Management" in the English text - is mandatory for “personnel designated on muster lists to assist passengers in emergency situations”.

Contents of training:

       Concerns initially knowledge of rescue equipment and ship’s contingency plan. Then knowledge of management of passengers (giving orders, controlling movement of passengers including people with reduced mobility or ensuring search of passengers in their cabins). It concerns also giving advice to passengers what to wear in the event of evacuation, keeping order and learning how to avoid panic like using lists of passengers and, obviously, showing the correct donning of a life jacket etc…

       All of that appears obvious but we can't explain in a few minutes the basic methods to avoid crowd panic, while, concerning the use of passenger lists, it would be necessary to prepare these lists for each means of evacuation. With data processing today that is feasible but imagines the paper work when you change passengers three times a day or more! Where is the time when each person in charge of checking the passengers designated for a life boat or other evacuation system will have the use of a computer tablet on line with the computer on the bridge. The wi-fi connection will in addition allow communicating the number of passengers aboard the life boat or raft leaving the ship; numbers that the shipmaster must know constantly within the framework of his "decision-making" process.

Timing of training course N° 1 :

       This training is envisaged no more than 2 hours in IMO model course (1.28) and includes a further training aboard the ship under the “familiarization to the ship and her equipment”

Comments : This is insufficient both from theoretical and practical point of view. Today with the development of simulation, we could make training sufficiently detailed and realistic enough in particular when the ship is having consequent list. With video simulation and study of the ship's general arrangement, this timing cannot be less than 3 hours being on the condition that the number of trainees be no more than 12. A work of simulation, video projection and use of holograms are necessary. In addition, I believe that the trainers must have sufficient experience on small and large passenger ships.

       Who are these "members of crew designated to assist passengers"?

       Clearly speaking, in all ship’s contingency plans I know (including the most recent ones), the assignments of the crew members to assist passengers in crisis are not very detailed and the concept of assistance to the passengers is often not specified.
In addition to officers, bosun and ABs on life boats or marine escape systems either slides or chutes, the members of the hotel/catering crew, taking part in the organization of evacuation, are equally concerned. Hotel managers, head of rank, stewards in charge of passengers in assembly points and/or in charge of accompanying them towards the means of evacuation and deal with them in the rafts or life boats during the ultimate phases of evacuation!.... for me it concerns all the crew.... except the hairdressers and the DJ… perhaps!

Training course N° 2 :
Training in safety matters for “personnel providing direct service to passengers in passenger spaces”.

       Apparently it concerns personnel ensuring passenger services in the bar, showroom, restaurant, cabins, swimming pool, casinos, children rooms, shops, etc… This personnel is intended to assist passengers and can be included in the preceding group but with more precise responsibilities:
  1. Knowledge of a common communication language with passengers.

  2. Comments:this not easy… language of the majority of passengers” for a specific crossing! For example, for a cruise with a majority of German speaking passengers… are we going to change the crew and embark many German-speaking seafarers? … It is of course unrealizable from a practical point of view! .

  3. To use a minimum of English language to communicate.

  4. Comments: Let us be clear, a limited level of English is often acquired by the catering crew but it is really a minimum for their job and the words concerning emergency situations are not commonly used and frequently unknown to this personnel… and to passengers also! Much more judicious would be training in the body-language/movements of arms and body, used to rectify such as how to wear a life jacket, indicating the direction of the nearest assembly points or means of evacuation. It is elementary, but how much training centres have this kind of demonstration?

  5. Possibility of communicating complete safety instructions in passenger’s language.

  6. Comments: Small safety instructions leaflets printed in the different languages used on board are generally well designed… when the commercial side does not take over the safety aspect! It is also necessary to have some spare leaflets in “uncommon passenger languages” and provide them when necessary.

           Obviously, the ideal solution would be to have sufficient video programs all around the ship diffusing permanently the safety instructions in all public areas …instructions which do not relate to only evacuation but associating instructions in case of fire or how to react in case of man over board etc…! But is it commercially reasonable?

  7. Take into account information given on the ship's PA (Public announcement) system

  8. Comments: While it is unreasonable to give instructions on more than three languages via the PA system, it would be necessary that members of crew be ready to interpret by body language instructions transmitted… but I am not sure that in our own training centers whether they be here or in the Philippines are sufficiently competent in this area!

  9. Demonstration of donning life jackets
  10. while not forgetting to recall where they are placed and embarkation of passengers in the life saving equipment.
    Comments: We may think that donning a life jacket is elementary but we must remember that the basic life jacket is of poor quality and donning should be shown again and again on the video screens. We should take example from the commercial aviation industry (even if nobody looks at these presentations anymore even the air-stewardesses are coming out their demonstration conscientiously… even if the plane does not cross an ocean or even a lake! Unlike ships, the air-passenger is captive and their life jackets are conveniently placed under their seat and are really much more practical than ours!

  11. Lastly, they learn how to deal with passengers with reduced mobility

  12. Comments : I imagine drills to accompany "grandmas" towards the sliding or chutes system or even…towards the life boats!
In summary
       This is not easy at all and finally impossible to really and completely control. The Aviation industry uses simulation with cartoons and now holograms… in my opinion the only solution is simulation coupled with a demonstration of real evacuation for every seafarer… at least once every 5 years!

Training course N° 3 :

       It concerns “Masters, chief engineers, chief mates, second engineers, officers and any person having responsibility for the safety of passengers in emergency situations”.

       In the French version of STCW, there is apparently an old wrong translation which is “Masters, engineers and officers responsible for the safety of passengers in emergency situations”. There is a tremendous difference between “having responsibilities” and being “responsible”! Indeed since 95, the French-speaking ship-owners have trained…officers only! In any case, there is a big difference between these two interpretations!

       I do not know what were the IMO objectives, but we are all of us quite conscious that to manage passengers and their behavior in the event of crisis is effectively not the responsibility of the officers only! In crisis situations, all crew members are concerned and take part in the management of the consequences of the crisis for passengers. Crew members must have good knowledge of the ship’s emergency plan in order to be able to inform passenger and thus trying to calm him, give example of self-control and professionalism. They have to know the elementary human reactions to contribute to the prevention of panic, use of passengers in management of others, technics to take care of overstress, to ensure communication all the time!

       We should not contest that this training is essential for any member of crew "used" in the evacuation plan. This training is of a high level perhaps, but seafarers are more than able to follow it I am sure and in fact… we have no other solution! Certain ship-owners have understood this for a long time and now all their crew are trained, Bravo!

NB : Training courses N°2 and 3 must be revalidated at least once every 5 years except to prove maintenance of competency! In general Flag Administrations accept that a year on board ship is a reasonable evidence of proficiency maintenance! But, do you know many stewards having handy a personal training booklet with detailed training received on board? Do you know many companies where all crew are following regular video training courses? Of course not,

       I think the revalidation should not be accepted without formal evidence and it would be much simpler to require a "five year refresher training course” during one day for example… to be sure!

       When we started this specific training for passenger ships crews in the French Maritime Academy, a psychologist covered the human behavior part … excellent idea! Unfortunately, I am not sure if that will continue and it is a pity because the interactive association of two trainers experienced in crisis management and human behavior was very enriching for the trainees, I’m sure!

Training course N° 4 :

Safety, cargo safety and hull integrity training
This last training concerns the officers and crew of roro passenger ships. It should be remembered that STCW 95 required a different training between liners (STCW V/3) and ferries (STCW V/2). Today with STCW 2010 we are back on a single training course which includes a part concerning only roll-on-roll-off passenger ships crews.

Liners have now a lot of hull openings
         At the beginning, I found this regrouping intelligent, now I find it will complicate the task of training centres (certificate with or without ro-ro specific training?). …with a risk to see a of sweeping the roro part under the carpet! The "roro" training relates to management of hull openings to which we have added the handling of ramps and car-decks, carriage of dangerous goods, lashing of vehicles, concept and elementary stability calculations and management of the garage atmosphere during loading of motor vehicles.

       All of that is good but relates only to prevention. There is nothing planned about effects of liquid free surfaces in case of flooding and even the closing of watertight doors! Strange!

       From the beginning of this study, we have evaluated that the "special training for personnel of passenger ships" should be required for all the crew… but training the barman to be able to close the hull openings, I am not sure! So, I estimate that the coming together of the two courses was not really a good idea!

       Finally we can keep the training courses N° 1, 2 and 3 for all crew and to require another additional training course specific for roro ships… and in fact that what is being done today!

In conclusion.

       Yes, I think the contents of these training courses are sufficient but it is the way in which this training is given which can be seriously improved! The COSTA CONCORDIA accident has already directed the spot-lights on the behavior of the ship’s personnel and inevitably this training will be highlighted rapidly.

       To issue a regulation which is appropriate for all is not easy (note that IMO is an assembly of members who validate an agreement but which is always the lowest common denominator) But we have in hand a training whose contents are well adapted and can be adjusted or improved. Furthermore, this training should be extended to ALL crew members … and this will require a new STCW amendment … so, not before 5 years from now, I’m afraid! Finally, if an effort is decided on these training and if the cruising industry continues to develop, we have a lot of work in perspective for the next years!

NB1 : IMO has promised a revision of the corresponding "Model courses". A detailed study of the existing ones (1.28 and 1.29) reveals surprisingly a more complete training course for roros than for liners...even for the training N°3! This is rather strange when you compare the number of passengers involved. In addition an important practical part of the training is supposed to be carried out on board or ashore and can reach 8 hours for the training course N°3!

My opinion : If the practical part on management of crisis and human behavior is naturally included in the course, it is, on the other hand, completely logical that training N°4 relating to hull opening and roll-on roll-off procedures, has a significant practical part… which can be carried out on board a ship only. For validation of this practical part of the training, we return obviously to the "training booklet" already noticed above!

NB2 : The first IMO recommendations already set up are really "small" and obviously insufficient (ref.:MSC.1 circular 1446 of 1st of June 2012).We hope much better ones soon.

NB3 : Finally the training STCW V/2 should be carried out:
  • During 3 days (18 hours) for personnel of cruise liners and other passenger ships such as speed crew boats or non-roro catamarans
  • During 4 days (24 hours) for passenger ferries
Capt Bertrand APPERRY
July 2012

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