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DPA, an ISM requirement or a Commitment?

Designated Person Ashore

Recently, ! was speaking to a friend, who holds a senior position in a Shipping Company. He has
definitely more exposure and more experience than me ashore, and while talking to him, we did touch
the aspect or the question of Who can be the Designated Person Ashore, in view of !SN Code, 4.0"?
As per him, there are numerous shipping companies, still operating, some who have even appointed a
Front receptionist or a mere graduate, nonsailor as a DPA. And surprisingly, the company's DOC
(Document of Compliance) is intact. The certifying bodies have not probably even raised Non
Conformity to this aspect.
Now let's investigate this firstly on the basis of what the preamble to !SN Code says.
The purpose of this Code is to provide an international standard for the safe
management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention.
This implies, the intent of the code is to ensure an international standard, and of course it deals with
Safe and environment friendly management and operations of the ship. This part in effect really gives
a common principle to the code.

Recognizing that no two shipping companies or shipowners are the same, and that
ships operate under a wide range of different conditions, the Code is based on general
principles and objectives.
This gives the companies a scope to operate under various structure and processes, however, the
agenda remains the same, safe and environment friendly management and operations. The general
principles and objectives are the same for all companies.

The Code is expressed in broad terms so that it can have a widespread application.
Clearly, different levels of management, whether shorebased or at sea, will require
varying levels of knowledge and awareness of the items outlined.
This highlights the importance of having appropriate knowledge and awareness.

The cornerstone of good safety management is commitment from the top. !n matters of
safety and pollution prevention it is the commitment, competence, attitudes and
motivation of individuals at all levels that determines the end result.
Now this is the key principle of the entire !SN Code. This is the entire reasoning behind the
development of !SN Code.
1. Commitment at all levels to ensure safety S environmental protection. Believe it should start from
the top management.
2. Competence. All personnel deputed various roles within the organization, whether onboard or
ashore should be competent for at least their jobs. !f we evaluate it in light of STCW, even sailing staff
is supposed to be competent, be it in support role, operational role or management role.
3. Attitudes. But obviously, believe it is not meant that anyone should have any wrong attitudes. !t
means attitude to ensure safety S environmental protection.
4. otivation. Rarely practiced in any industry, the only motivation anywhere is money, career
growth, appreciation, security and selfesteem. The personnel working onboard or ashore should be
sufficiently motivated to ensure safety S environment protection, to go that extra mile to ensure
compliance to !SN objective.

Before, ! proceed further into investigating this aspect, let's see what !SN Code says about the DPA.
!S Code DES!CNATED PERSON(S)
To ensure the safe operation of each ship and to provide a link between the Company and
those on board, every Company, as appropriate, should designate a person or persons
ashore having direct access to the highest level of management. The responsibility and
authority of the designated person or persons should include monitoring the safety and
pollutionprevention aspects of the operation of each ship and ensuring that adequate
resources and shorebased support are applied, as required.

et's break the above into parts and analyze them:

To ensure the safe operation of each ship and to provide a link between the Company
and those on boardevery Company, as appropriate, should designate a person or persons
ashore"

The rest of the sentence, we'll analyze at a subsequent stage. However, those who have studied
English Crammer, would identify this sentence has a meaning in itself, outside the rest of the part.
1) The companies are supposed to appoint a DPA
2) The objective of appointing DPA is
a. to ensure safe operation of each ship, and
b. to provide a link between company and those on board.

!t is strange, that this is not considered by most of the companies. The DPA should be able to
understand safety in maritime industry, which would further imply, having knowledge of SOAS,
NARPO, STCW, amongst other codes, regulations and be able to really understand the operations,
the ships undertake to be able to ensure. !f ! do not understand the implications, the requirements
and the limitations of driving, how can you appoint me as a driver of a lorry?
Further, the 2
nd
item speaks of providing link between company and those on board! This implies, that
the DPA must be able to connect directly with the Naster and onboard personnel? But we have DPA's
who have rarely seen the ships, some who have rarely seen the Nasters on board but they are the
DPAs. Unfortunately, and on the contrary, the DPAs mostly are so lost and have no situational
awareness for the vessels that they rarely know what is going on board the vessels.

The Designated Person ashore is something like the Safety Officer on board the ships. Would that
mean, he/she should be able to make decisions? Would that mean that he/she should be qualified to
make decisions? Would that also mean that he/she should be a person with some authority and
training in this scope?

Ny understanding is that this first phrase actually is the Objectivity about the DPA, who can be and
what role is he primarily supposed to serve.

every Company, as appropriate, should designate a person or persons ashore having


direct access to the highest level of management."
Now we talk of a functional requirement.

The DPA should have direct access to the highest level of management. This implies, if the highest
level in a company is the Nanagement Board, then DPA should be able to approach them, and if the
share holders body is recognized as the highest body in the company's management chart, the DPA
should be able to have access to them.

The original draftsmen of the Code intended to have a conduit, a medium, a kind of focal point for the
communication flow on matters of safety to freely pass in all directions, a unique person with multi
talented capabilities. Traditionally, the Superintendent would perform such a function. However, to
facilitate such a communication flow ! do believe that the DPA must be well known, trusted and
respected by those on board the ship and in the office ashore. They must be seen to be effective, to
have the ability to deal with all issues, to provide leadership, motivation, commitment and have the
right attitude to ensure that feedback loops are always closed, that the questions and queries are
answered, that problems posed are solved.

The responsibility and authority of the designated person or persons should include
monitoring the safety and pollutionprevention aspects of the operation of each ship and
ensuring that adequate resources and shorebased support are applied, as required."

The UK regulations take a more detailed approach in 'S! 1338 No. 1S61 The Nerchant Shipping
(!nternational Safety Nanagement (!SN) Code) Regulations 1338' which states, at Section 8:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1338/1S61/regulation/8/made

Designated Person
8. (1) The company shall designate a person who shall be responsible for monitoring the safe and
efficient operation of each ship with particular regard to the safety and pollution prevention aspects.
(2) !n particular, the designated person shall
(a) take such steps as are necessary to ensure compliance with the company safety management
system on the basis of which the Document of Compliance was issued, and
(b) ensure that proper provision is made for each ship to be so manned, equipped and maintained
that it is fit to operate in accordance with the safety management system and with
statutory requirements.
(3) The company shall ensure that the designated person
(a) is provided with sufficient authority and resources, and
(b) has appropriate knowledge and sufficient experience of the operation of ships at sea and in port,
to enable him to comply with paragraphs (1) and (2) above.

The DPA should be able to monitor the safety and pollution prevention aspects of the shipboard
operations. !'m not sure, how many DPAs actually have access to each and every mail that originates
to and from the ship. How many actually view each one of the them, raise objections, raise questions,
understand the risks involved, take part in risk assessments and have an overview of each activity of
the vessel. !n 200S, while serving on a vessel as a Chief Nate, ! once had to call the DPA of my
company (Naster had stepped ashore) for an operational problem, that was eventually, apart from
having the potential of financial loss to the charterers / owners, could cause a statutory problem for
the vessel. The DPA on hearing out the problem said he was on vacations (! as a Chief Nate of course
had no idea that he was on vacations, but eventually, ! found out, neither the Naster had, there was
no notification from him) and asked me to talk to the Alternate DPA. The alternate DP was an
erstwhile Chief Engineer, who was not well aware of the Chemical trade (! was on a parcel chemical
tanker) and directed me to another Superintendent who was supposed to be the company's expert on
Chemical trade. Fine no issues with this, one person is not supposed to know all. !f ! was in his place
and someone would call me to speak about a generator problem, ! too will direct him to the more
technically sound person. But isn't monitoring supposed to be within the scope of DPA? !sn't he
supposed to have the ability to monitor?

The DPA is further supposed to ensure that the ships are provided with adequate resources and
shorebase support. !f, ! do not have the knowledge and the expertise, how am ! supposed to ensure
as DPA, what resources and supports ! should provide.
ooking from the angle of English Nerchant Shipping Regulations, the DPA should be able to judge
what is required and what is not required, again a Decision Naker, and he should too be provided with
sufficient authority and resources.

On a number of occasions, you will find the failure of a company stemming out of the basic reason
that the DPA is practically ineffective and often not really aware or not understanding their actual role
or what is expected of them as DPA.

!n effect the authority and responsibility of DPA should cover the following:

a. The designated person has to collect and analyze all the operational information regarding the
implementation of the SNS of the Company, which would thus also include his ability to verify them
and act upon them to firstly, prevent problems and thereafter, taking corrective actions, if needed.
b. Discuss with all the personnel concerned any matters related to safety and environmental protection
and the application of this aspect to all operations on board ships.
c. Nonitor the operation of each ship as far as pollution and safety are concerned.
d. !n the event of deficiency, the designated person shall not only have direct access to the highest level
of management to seek guidance but by virtue of section 4, he shall also be vested of all the
required resources.

The choice of the correct Designated Person and his competency are fundamental for the success of
the implementation of the Code and the SNS of the company. The Companies will have to select a
person who would have adequate competency and shipboard experience as a Chief Engineer or
Naster who can gain the respect of the personnel at sea and ashore. He should have a good
knowledge of how the Company works and should be aware of his responsibility to satisfactorily deal
with reporting of casualty, near misses, nonconformities, hazardous occurrences etc.

!t is the Company's responsibility to give all possible support and cooperation of all the shore staff /
ship staff to the designated person in order to carry out the objectives of the !SN Code.

The main role of the designated person is preventing accidents for safe operation of ships and
prevention of pollution and to carry out analysis of any accident to see whether the act of the owner
or act of the person or any omission or any other intention to cause such accident, or having the
knowledge that such accident would probably result so that preventive action is immediately taken to
avoid the recurrence of such accident.

!n view of the above responsibility any fault of the designated person in the implementation and
maintenance of the SNS, could therefore have legal consequences as it could make the owner loose
his right to limit his liability. The DPAs should also realize that because of the legal consequences,
they are highly prone to becoming the scapegoats, after all someone needs to get the blame, if the
company has to survive.

This was an argumentative reasoning, why the companies must ensure, a sufficiently qualified,
competent and knowledgeable and senior person is appointed the DPA

Now lets see, if !NO is giving any more guidance. Yes it does. After a lot of deliberations and resulting
inferences, !NO did come out with two circulars on the 13
th
October 2007.
NSCNEPC.7/Circ.S and NSCNEPC.7/Circ.6

SCEPC.7/Circ. of
th
October 2007 providing guidelines for the operational
implementation of the !S code by companies states the following

DES!CNATED PERSON
4.1 A key role, as identified by the !SN Code, in the effective implementation of a safety management
system is that of the Designated Person. This is the person based ashore whose influence and
responsibilities should significantly affect the development and implementation of a safety culture
within the Company.
4.2 The designated person should verify and monitor all safety and pollution prevention activities in
the operation of each ship. This monitoring should include, at least, the following internal processes:
.1 communication and implementation of the safety and environmental protection policy,
.2 evaluation and review of the effectiveness of the safety management system,
.3 reporting and analysis of nonconformities, accidents and hazardous occurrences,
.4 organizing and monitoring of internal audits,
.S appropriate revisions to the SNS, and
.6 ensuring that adequate resources and shorebased support are provided.
4.3 To enable the designated person to carry out this role effectively, the Company should provide
adequate resources and shorebased support. These include:
.1 personnel resources,
.2 material resources,
.3 any training required,
.4 clearly defined and documented responsibility and authority, and
.S authority for reporting nonconformities and observations to the highest level of management.
4.4 Designated Person(s) should have the qualifications, training and experience as set out
in SCEPC.7/Circ., to effectively verify and monitor the implementation of the safety
management system in compliance with the !SN Code.

And what does SCEPC.7/Circ. state?

The !O circular outlined a minimum set of criteria for formal education. !t stated that
the DP must possess one of the following
. qualifications from a tertiary institution recognized by the Administration or by the
recognized organization, within a relevant field of management, engineering, or physical
science, or
2. qualifications and seagoing experience as a certified ship officer pursuant to the
!nternational Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for
Seafarers (STCW), 78, as amended, or
. other formal education combined with not less than three years practical seniorlevel
experience in ship management operations.

For practical training, the !O insists that the DP should have undergone training relating
to safety management elements in compliance with the requirements of the !S Code,
particularly with regard to
. knowledge and understanding of the !S Code,
2. mandatory rules and regulations,
. applicable codes, guidelines and standards as appropriate,
. assessment techniques of examining, questioning, evaluating and reporting,
. technical or operational aspects of safety management,
. appropriate knowledge of shipping and shipboard operations,
7. participation in at least one marinerelated management system audit, and
8. effective communications with shipboard staff and senior management.

And further, in the most important area of experience, the following is necessitated
. ability to present !S matters to the highest level of management and gain sustained
support for safety management system improvements,
0. determine whether the safety management system elements meet the requirements
of the !S Code,
. determine the effectiveness of the safety management system within the company
and the ship by using established principles of internal audit and management review to
ensure compliance with rules and regulations,
2. assess the effectiveness of the safety management system in ensuring compliance
with other rules and regulations that are not covered by statutory and classification
surveys and enabling verification of compliance with these rules and regulations,
. assess whether the safe practices recommended by the organization, administrations,
classification societies, other international bodies and maritime industry organizations to
promote a safety culture had been taken into account, and
. gather and analyze data from hazardous occurrences, situations, near misses,
incidents and accidents and apply lessons learned to improve the safety management
system.

Since verification of !SN Code compliance is achieved through a series of audits, the !NO further
outlined that the company should provide training, including practical training and continuous
updating. The company should also provide evidence that the DP has the relevant qualification,
training and experience to undertake the duties under the !SN Code.

! won't be wrong, and believe the experienced professionals would agree, that certificates and mere
education cannot replace real experience. Hopefully someday, the number of adequately qualified
Designated Persons is more than the number of merely certified and/or nominated DPAs and possibly,
then the companies would really be able to implement !SN in its true spirit.
Until then, we live with nonconformities, and inadequate enforcement of the code.

The above views are completely mine, with quoting parts of legislature in this regards from the
sources, as indicated. !t is difficult to imagine someone not agreeing to my views, but believe a
debate on this would provide greater insight. Always, pleased to hear.

Ch by the way to c|ar|fy someone commented |n ema|| on read|ng th|s |n my op|n|on who shou|d be the
DA

We|| honest|y can be any sa||or but the most su|ted wou|d be a Master not by cert|f|cat|on but who has
rea||y served as Master Who e|se |s supposed to hand|e overr|d|ng author|ty has the dec|s|on mak|ng
exper|ence has dea|t w|th more number of scenar|os then other seafarers and has been |n command
Iurther |n my op|n|on there shou|d be some k|nd of psycho|og|ca| ana|ys|s ava||ab|e for the DA wh|ch
cou|d conc|ude that he ] she |s su|ted or not
If the compan|es are rea||y w||||ng to |mp|ement th|s one of the best courses that can rea||y he|p |s the
Command course by Naut|ca| Inst|tute adequate|y deve|oped to serve th|s purpose