“Going beyond the minimum” with The Nautical Institute by Jean Winfield, Jeanius Consulting
Ian Millen, President, extended a warm welcome to over 30 members and guests at this month’s Propeller Club luncheon where members and guests were treated to not only a fabulous lunch but a double speaker event at the prestigious Naval Club, Mayfair.
Guest speakers were Bridget Hogan, Director of Publishing and Marketing and David Patraiko, Director of Projects, both from The Nautical Institute.
Wasting no time having been introduced as ‘passionate’ and indeed ‘a force of nature’ Bridget introduced The Nautical Institute, giving an overview of their organisation and activities. The Nautical Institute started over 40 years ago and has 15 branches and over 7000 members in 120 countries. Its mission is to build up good practice in the industry, especially good operational practice, and to continually look at areas for improvement – with their view that ‘a safe ship is an efficient ship, and an efficient ship will be a profitable ship’.
“We all know there is training out there and in the 40 years since The Nautical Institute has started, international standards have come in – but we try to see where the chinks are in the armour. What doesn’t the training cover? Or are there issues where you cannot necessarily train for, or legislate for?” Bridget explained. “The issues tend to come up in general; people are for instance always concerned about maritime security. It’s the biggest issue, especially if you’re on board a vessel very frequently, you’re not allowed ashore or if you are you may only be allowed very restrictive shore leave. You’re at threat from people who want to attack or steal from you perhaps. The Institute has tackled this topic through some publications we have in maritime security, especially on piracy and stowaways.”
Bridget continued; “We are concerned about criminalisation of seafarers too. If you look at how people react to the airline pilot who landed his plane on the ‘Hudson’ and he was hailed as a hero, how that would be treated had it been a ship going aground in the very same spot. The master would be subjected to pillaring at the very least if not the prospect of very serious charges. We see an imbalance there. We try to work with people in that area, providing practical advice in a very tangible way. As a membership benefit for our seafaring members we provide funds for them as part of an insurance policy which will help them particularly if they don’t get much help from their owners which sometimes unfortunately is the case”.
The Nautical Institute also looks at the technical aspects of the seafaring world, not just looking at training but supporting people through sharing of practises and forums – practical help and advice. They look at leadership, competency, and their membership ‘going beyond the minimum’ by improving skills and reflecting on what they do.
“We use publications a lot to give out that support and information. We have a monthly journal called ‘Seaways’ in which we commission articles on good practice and we also have a lot of publications on our books – about 100 – some of which are very board in scope, and some of which are very specific and niche. So the membership and the publications are a very big part of our activity, it’s a small team, but we are reaching out. Everything we do really is about continuing our professional commitment and we feel that there is a lot of support we can give to the industry. There’s a huge bank of knowledge in The Nautical Institute and our members are extremely generous in the way that they pass that on.” Bridget concluded.
David Patraiko, then added to the presentation by talking further about how the Institute represents and promotes professionalism amongst its members.
“We are a profession body, our job is to help our members learn and share knowledge, and that is the majority of what we do. However, we also represent them at other forums and in the industry – at the IMO for example, and we work very closely with most of the major international organisations. We listen to our members when they have concerns and we work on a five year rolling strategic plan, and to populate that we have a questionnaire we send out to our members every year asking them what the big issues are.” David explained. The Institute has worked extensively through its branches to connect more with the younger generation and discover what medium they wanted to receive information and communications, assuming that in the future they would want to read their publications on their iPhones – this wasn’t the case but a useful exercise nevertheless!
The Institute works tirelessly to promote professionalism and amongst its membership one of the things they were very alarmed at (and this is around the world), is some many of the younger officers said they didn’t see themselves as professional. They view the Captain as professional but not themselves. “We thought about it and reflected on it and talked to our members and turned out that as an industry we don’t necessary teach this young generation, we don’t treat them all that well. We give them minimum training, we don’t talk to them about careers after being on board a ship, we threaten them with prison if they do anything wrong and they’re very aware that if cheaper crews are found else where they can be replaced quite easily. A lot of decision making is not just the knowledge in your head but the motivation to do that job well and we want to reach out to these young people and talk to them about what professionalism means.” David added.
“We came up with the idea of doing a magazine called the ‘Navigator’ to help. It’s very small, it’s got lots of pictures, it’s very readable. The aim was to to teach people how to navigate but to inspire professionalism in that. We wanted to provide this to the whole industry but we are a small charity. However, we were able to find funding that will allow us to print and distribute copies of this round the world. The idea is to get at least one on every ship – it’s free to receive. Our message to you is please if you could find a way of getting this in to the hand of a seafarer please do so”.
Ending the presentation talking about the other work they do with regard to Marine Spatial Planning, another big project that they are undertaking, it was clear The Nautical Institute is a very active and proactive organisation – and a lively questions and answers session followed.
For more information on The Nautical Institute please see their website www.nautinst.org