DYNAMIC POSITIONING- deck-officer.com
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Our thanks to Lowestoft college for their input on the subject of dynamic positioning.


Dynamic Positioning is a relatively new technology, having been born of necessity as a result of the increasing demands of the rapidly expanding oil and gas exploration industry in the 1960s and early 1970s. Even now, when there exist over 800 DP- capable vessels, the majority of them are operationally related to the exploration or exploitation of oil and gas reserves.

The advent of the offshore oil and gas industry has brought about a whole new set of needs and requirements. Further to this, the more recent moves into deeper waters, together with the requirement to consider more environmental-friendly methods, has brought about the great development in the area of Dynamic Positioning techniques and technology.

Dynamic Positioning can be defined as a system that automatically controls a vessel to maintain her position and heading exclusively by means of active thrust.

By using the word "automatically" we exclude systems which are reliant upon a joystick or other operator input in order to maintain control over the vessel, although manual control is one of the functions of a DP system. In addition to controlling the vessel to maintain a given position and heading, the system also caters for changes to position and/or heading being implemented by a variety of means.

Dynamic Positioning is rapidly becoming a major facility, being routinely fitted in many new and established vessel types. DP functions are in regular use in Drilling Rigs, Diving Support Vessels, Floating Production units, Survey vessels, Cable Lay and Repair vessels, Pipelay barges, Crane barges, Flotel units, Shuttle tankers and many others.

These vessels will frequently need to conduct operations of a safety-critical nature, i.e. close to platforms or other fixed structure. In operations of this type it is essential that the vessel is able to work to its maximum efficiency, and this includes the competence of the key personnel on board. In particular, the bridge personnel, i.e. watchkeeping officers and DP Operators, must be properly trained. The DPO must be fully conversant with the capabilities of his/her vessel and her DP system. It is upon the competency of these personnel that depends the safety of the vessel’s operation. Often, the terms of the charter are such that the bridge personnel be fully trained and qualified.


I.M.O. have produced the guidelines "Training of Key DP Personnel" in which details are to be found relating to the training and competence of all personnel who have a critical role to play on board DP-capable vessels.

Responsibility for the training, qualification and certification of DP Operators rests with the Nautical Institute. They are the recognised body with the responsibility of issuing DP Operator certificates to suitably trained and experienced personnel. Although the Nautical Institute is UK based, it is very much an international body, and is recognised worldwide as the professional organization responsible for such matters. The Nautical Institute scheme of training follows the recommendations contained in the I.M.O. and I.M.C.A. guidelines.

Nautical Institute Training Scheme for DP Operators

Phase 1 Shore-based DP Induction course. Intended for officers with little or no              DP experience. Duration 41/2 days, college-based.

Phase 2 Sea-going DP familiarisation as understudy to qualified DP watchkeeping              personnel. Minimum 30 days in a DP vessel conducting DP operations.

Phase 3 Shore-based DP Simulator course. Intended for officers completing              phases 1 and 2 above. Duration 41/2 days, college based.

Phase 4 A period of 6 months of supervised watchkeeping on DP operations.

Phase 5 Verification of the competence of the DPO candidate by the vessel              Master.

All of the above will be recorded in a personal DP logbook, which will be issued to the trainee at Phase 1, otherwise obtainable from the Nautical Institute in London. At the completion of the scheme, a final appraisal of the trainee will be carried out by the Master of the vessel, (Phase 5) after which the trainee submits his/her credentials to the Nautical Institute, who will issue the DPO certificate. This qualification is recognized worldwide.


DP training is available at Lowestoft and other shore-based venues. For further information contact:

St Peters Street
NR32 2NB
United Kingdom
DP Client Co-ordinator: Sharon brewer
Tel: 0044 1502 525025
01 502 525025
Fax: 0044 1502 525106
01 502 525106