Texas A&M first US maritime academy to teach accredited DP courses

The following is text of a news release from Texas A&M Maritime Academy:

(GALVESTON, Texas) — The Offshore Service Vessel Dynamic Positioning Authority (OSVDPA) has announced that the Texas A&M Maritime Academy at Texas A&M University at Galveston is the first maritime academy in the nation accredited to provide OSVDPA courses to its cadets.

In announcing the accreditation, OSVDPA Executive Director Aaron Smith said, “The OSVDPA board of directors and our staff are very excited to issue this accreditation. Going into the accreditation process we obviously knew of A&M’s reputation as a great maritime training institution, but they surpassed even those lofty expectations. We were extremely impressed with A&M’s instructors, curriculum and equipment. Additionally, giving cadets access to top-notch training early in their career will pay great dividends toward the safety of our industry. In short, this is a great addition to OSVDPA’s growing family.”

Dynamic positioning (DP) is a computer-controlled system to automatically maintain a ship’s position and heading. Information from the ship’s propellers and thrusters and data from sensors for wind and motion are combined with gyrocompass data to give a computer the vessel's position. This information allows the computer to calculate the required steering angle and thruster output to match the ocean’s current conditions. Some, but not all, vessels it is used aboard include offshore supply vessels, drillships, semi-submersibles, turbine installation vessels, cruise ships, cable layers, dredges, shuttle tankers, military vessels, heavy lift vessels, FPSOs, FLNGs, dive support vessels and wind farm servicing ships.

“Our partnership with OSVDPA is the result of years of putting all the pieces into place,” said Capt. Augusta Roth, department head of Marine Transportation at the Texas A&M Maritime Academy. “The right equipment, the right facilities and the right people have all come together to make this happen.”

For cadets to receive an OSVDPA DPO (DP Operator) certificate they must successfully complete two classroom courses, the first of which covers the theoretical knowledge behind DP operations and the second offers hands on DP experience via the utilization of DP simulators.

Additionally, OSVDPA requires mariners to pass a series of assessments as they progress through the phases of the OSVDPA DPO certification. These assessments range from a multiple-choice style test following Phase 1, to practical assessments following Phases 3, 4 and 5.

Chief mate Kate Fossati, assistant Marine Transportation professor at the Texas A&M Maritime Academy and the instructor approved to teach the OSVDPA courses, was also excited about the accreditation. “As an alumna of Texas A&M who sailed as a DPO, I know what having that certificate does to a cadet’s job prospects. I am very proud that our cadets will be able to start the certification process while they are here, something that they used to have to wait until graduation and pay out-of-pocket to do,” she said.

Cadets see a bright future for their careers in obtaining this certification. “Dynamic positioning is a specialty market that is not widely covered by maritime academies through the U.S.,” said Texas A&M Galveston cadet Erin Sullivan. “Becoming accredited by OSVDPA not only gives us an opportunity to learn about an interesting and ever growing market, but also gives us an advantage. Not only is it advantageous to our careers, but also to the companies we will be working for. The students graduating with their Phase 1 course completion certificate from Texas A&M will be fully prepared to participate in DP operations.”

“Getting this certification would be a great step forward in my career as a cadet and a future mariner” said Texas A&M Galveston cadet Raoul Lehardy-Hernand. “DP is the future of the maritime industry and expanding my knowledge in this diverse industry and graduating with the Phase 1 course completion certificate and ready to start accruing sea time will give me an advantage going into the workforce.”

To achieve accreditation, the Texas A&M Maritime Academy was required to submit a package of forms describing its operation, curriculum, facilities, simulators and instructors. Once submitted, OSVDPA staff and an independent OSVDPA-approved auditor conducted intensive document review and site visits to ensure the facility and simulators meet OSVDPA standards. Additionally, OSVDPA conducted assessments of Fossati’s knowledge of the DP theory, her practical DP operational abilities, as well has her ability to use a DP simulator as an instructional tool.

“Our partnership with OSVDPA is another sign of how our academy can work with the private sector to move our industry forward,” said Adm. Michael Rodriguez, superintendent of Texas A&M Maritime Academy. “I am so proud of Capt. Roth and Professor Fossati. They got the demand signal from our industry partners and made this happen. It’s a win for all … our cadets, the academy, OSVDPA and the entire maritime industry.”

By Professional Mariner Staff