Case study – DPO certification deception

Case narrative

A new senior DPO had been appointed to a DP equipment class 2 vessel via a crewing agent. It was found after joining that his experience and certification were not as previously communicated.

The vessel master first met the new crewmember whilst waiting for a taxi to join the vessel and he seemed to be a nice fellow. Once on-board the master checked his certification, and all seemed in order for the position he was to serve following handover. The master reminded him that he still needed to present his discharge book and DP logbook which he had withheld/forgotten.

The discharge book, together with a new DP logbook were presented to the Master prior to departure. The discharge book had entries from the same vessel from 2015 onwards and the DP logbook was blank. He informed the master that he had lost his other discharge book and DP logbook.

The master wanted to see evidence of his DP experience and therefore became concerned. On closer examination, the new crewmember’s DP certificate appeared very worn and therefore not consistent with it being a new issue, as stated. The title of the certificate was suspicious and, when measured, the length of the row on an existing crewmember’s card which stated ‘offshore unlimited’ was 3mm shorter and there was evidence that a previous title had been obscured/rubbed off.

The master observed the new crewmember complete a DP periodical checklist and questioned him about his DP experience and technical knowledge. The new crewmember confirmed that his certificate was unlimited and denied that he had tampered with it.

Suspicions were raised and the vessel master liaised with the vessel manager and crewing agent to instigate a full investigation into the new crewmembers certification.

The Nautical Institute (NI) confirmed that the certificate was recently issued and was a DP limited certificate, meaning it was valid for DP1 vessels only. The institute also confirmed that the DPO had applied using 30 DP2 days sea time for familiarisation, and 33 DP2 days sea time for watchkeeping however, all subsequent DP sea time within the application after July 2015 had been completed on DP1 vessels. The DPO was only entitled to hold a limited certificate.

When confronted, the new crewmember pleaded that he didn’t know the difference between a limited or unlimited certificate. He also admitted that he had never used the manufacturer’s DP system before or operated a DP2 vessel in automatic DP control.

Considerations of the IMCA Marine DP Committee

This event happened on a vessel being operated by a well-respected IMCA member. The consequences of having inexperienced and untrained personnel in key positions on any type of vessel and particularly DP vessels working in critical situations could be catastrophic. There is concern that this type of event could be repeated anywhere. Vessel personnel and shore management are reminded to be vigilant and that the authenticity of certificates can at any time be verified through the NI’s website and where concerns still exist directly with NI staff.