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About our Scheme
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OSVDPA Scheme Overview:

Why We Incorporated:

The OSVDPA Certification Scheme was created to address several issues that were consistently topics of conversation between DPOs/Mariners, vessel operators, and others involved in the dynamic positioning world. Specifically, the issues are as follows:

  • Access to Training and Certification. Too often, those who had to use DP were unable to or restrained from receiving adequate training and certification in its safe usage. Given the dangerous nature of the business in which these mariners utilize DP technology, everyone involved desires for these individuals to be trained in the most comprehensive manner possible.

  • Inconsistent Results from DPO Certification. Employers are either hiring DPOs to operate their vessels or are contracting other companies to supply DPOs for an operation. Unfortunately, many employers continue to be dissatisfied with the quality of the DPO and felt there was an urgent need for more consistency in the certification process.

  • Move towards Assessment-based Certification. The best way to prove one's ability to handle a task or operation is to test those abilities via the use of controlled and specific assessments. As is the case with the majority of other sectors within the offshore industry, the OSVDPA has created a detailed and thorough assessment system that gives the DP community the best opportunity to measure an individual's competencies in both the theory behind DP and the use of the technology.

  • Relevancy to Trainee. If someone is going to be trained in the use of a technology as specific as DP, it's crucial that they are able to learn in an environment that will give them the best opportunity to be successful upon obtaining certification. Prior to the OSVDPA's formation, we continued to hear that Prospective DPOs were being trained on systems that had little to do with their jobs or a typical day for them. The OSVDPA has created multiple assessments tailored to the individual, and operation they anticipate completing for their employers, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach.

  • An Achievable Certification. While the goal of the OSVDPA is to ensure that its DPOs are the most competent and well-trained available, we also understand that often times the process itself to become a DPO or enter a certification scheme can be arduous. With that being said, the OSVDPA aims to make the process through which a Prospective DPO or DPO enters our scheme as seamless as possible without cutting corners and compromising the training of the applicants. At the OSVDPA, we will help applicants every step of the way and ensure that they are receiving the assistance they deserve.

Our Foundation:

In addition to the OSVDPA's Founding Principles, our certification scheme is built upon existing industry guidelines with an emphasis on certain areas in which the OSVDPA felt could be improved. We combed through all of the major guidelines published by the IMO, IMCA, ISO, MTS, DNVGL, Nautical Institute, and United States Coast Guard and found that we were still not satisfied with what was largely regarded as "industry guidance". As such, the OSVDPA and its Technical Advisory Council (TAC) decided to incorporate several crucial items that we felt did not receive the necessary emphasis from the aforementioned industry documents:

  • DP operation planning, 
  • Risk assessing,
  • Communication,
  • Use of decision support tools (ASOGs, CAM/TAM),
  • Manual control of vessels,
  • Structured practical experience, and
  • Support for assessment-based certification

We believe that we have created the most comprehensive scheme available to today's DPOs and Prospective DPOs and are constantly evaluating and learning so the mistakes and accidents of today are not affecting tomorrow's operations.

Phase Timeline: 

After meeting a set of entry requirements found in OSVDPA MPP-1-CV, the OSVDPA Manual of Policies and Procedures (Current Version), the OSVDPA allows a Prospective DPO up to five (5) years from the date on which the individual begins the scheme to complete their certification. The scheme is comprised of five (5) unique phases with an assessment of competencies required following the completion of each phase. Depending upon an individual's DP experience and certification level, a Prospective DPO or DPO may enter the scheme at varying phases if they are able to provide documentation confirming their past experience or certification. A flow chart of the OSVDPA Scheme Progression is available for download, but the different phases, in order, are as follows:

  • Phase 1 (Induction) Course. The Phase 1 (Induction) Course is the first phase of the scheme and is required for Prospective DPOs who have no DP experience or who have not completed an equivalent course through another approved scheme. This classroom (or blended classroom/computer-based) course will teach Prospective DPOs the basis of DP theory and operation.

When conducted as a traditional course, the Phase 1 (Induction) Course is no less than 30 hours over a minimum of four (4) days, not including assessments and remediation. Alternatively, the OSVDPA allows the course to be taught as a 2.5 day classroom course attended after the Prospective DPO completes an online portion (if offered).

At the conclusion of the Phase 1 (Induction) Course, the Prospective DPO will take a 60 question multiple-choice test covering the Phase 1 competencies. The OSVDPA considers 80% a passing score, and Prospective DPOs are provided three (3) opportunities to achieve a passing score before they have to retake the course. Those DPOs that pass the assessment but do not score a 100% are required to participate in a remedial learning period to ensure complete understanding of the competencies taught during this phase.

  • Phase 2 (Familiarization). The Phase 2 (Familiarization) portion of the scheme involves experience gathering aboard a DP-equipped vessel. In order to complete this phase, the Prospective DPO must:
  • Accumulate 30 days of Sea Time (one (1)  hour on watch while the vessel is on DP equals one (1) day),
  • Conduct 90 hours of Practical Experience (one (1) hour at the DP station while the vessel is on DP, no more than six (6) hours can be recorded per 24 hours), and
  • Complete the Phase 2 Taskbook.

At the end of Phase 2 (Familiarization), the Prospective DPO must complete an assessment measuring the Prospective DPO's ability to complete a full DP operation. This assessment is administered by any (OSVDPA or otherwise) certified DPO or an OSVDPA Qualified on Board Assessor (QOBA).

  • Phase 3 (Simulator) Course. The Phase 3 (Simulator) Course is a focused upon the Prospective DPO gaining experience via the use of simulators. The course is conducted by an certified instructor at an OSVDPA-accredited Training Provider and on OSVDPA-approved simulators. The Phase 3 (Simulator) Course consists of no less than 30 hours over a minimum of four (4) days.

Upon completion of the Phase 3 (Simulator) Course, the DPO is required to pass a simulator-based assessment covering the competencies covered in Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3. The Phase 3 Assessment is scored by the OSVDPA-certified instructor conducing the assessment. Scoring reflects real-world operation and is based on both critical (an action when done incorrectly that causes loss of vessel control) and less-than-critical items. Prospective DPOs are provided three (3) opportunities to pass the Phase 3 Assessment before they must retake the Phase 3 (Simulator) Course.

Class C Permit:

After successful completion of the Phase 3 (Simulator) Course, the Prospective DPO may then apply for an option Class C Permit. Following IMCA guidance and United States Coast Guard proposed regulations, the OSVDPA offers this interim or Junior DPO Certificate. The Class C Permit provides validation of the experience gained through the first half of training.

It is the OSVDPA's belief that by following IMCA guidance and providing this validation, the Prospective DPO will be provided more training opportunities and better quality training opportunities throughout the rest of their training. Think of this as a "License to Learn". Again, this certificate is optional and only those DPOs who feel they will benefit by holding this certificate are urged to apply. To become a Class C Permit holder, the Prospective DPO must submit all required information as stated in OSVDPA MPP-1-CV, the OSVDPA Manual of Policies and Procedures (Current Version).

While the OSVDPA is reviewing the applicant's submitted information, the Prospective DPO can still accrue time toward their full DPO certificate.

Prospective DPOs must complete all requirements of the Class C Permit, which can also be found in OSVDPA MPP-1-CV, within five (5) years of attending the Phase 1 (Induction) Course. The Class C Permit is valid for five (5) years from the issue date printed on the certificate.

As stated in OSVDPA MPP-1-CV, the OSVDPA Database, and the card certificate itself, it is the OSVDPA's intention that the holder of the Class C Permit serve under the supervision of a full DPO certificate holder at all times. In no way does the OSVDPA consider a Class C Permit holder to be a fully-certified DPO.

  • Phase 4 (Watchkeeping). Phase 4 (Watchkeeping) entails experience-gathering aboard a DP-equipped vessel. In order to complete this phase, the Prospective DPO must:
  • Accumulate 60 days of Sea Time,
  • Conduct 180 hours of Practical Experience, and
  • Complete the Phase 4 Taskbook.

Once the Prospective DPO has completed the Phase 4 (Watchkeeping) requirements, he or she is allowed to take the Phase 4 Assessment, which can be conducted either aboard a vessel or at an OSVDPA-accredited Training Provider on an OSVDPA-approved simulator.

The Phase 4 Assessment is designed to mimic a DP operation and will cover all competencies in the OSVDPA certification system. This assessment shall be graded based upon how the Prospective DPO performs critical (an action when done incorrectly that causes loss of vessel control) and less-than-critical functions of the DP system including the planning and risk-assessing of an operation. The assessment is conducted and graded by DPOs that have passed flag-state designated courses on conducting on-board assessments.

Alternatively, the OSVDPA allows Prospective DPOs to complete the Phase 4 Assessment on an OSVDPA-approved simulator.

Based on the amount of time on DP-2 or higher vessels, the Prospective DPO may be eligible to take the Phase 4A Assessment which leads to a Class A DPO Certificate (Unlimited). If the DPO does not have sufficient time on a DP-2 or higher vessel, the Prospective DPO can take the Phase 4B Assessment, which leads to the Class B DPO Certificate (Limited).

DPO Certification:

Once the Prospective DPO completes all of the requirements as listed in OSVDPA MPP-1-CV within five (5) years, they are allowed to apply for a DPO Certificate. To apply, the Prospective DPO must complete the OSVDPA's application forms and submit the required information to the OSVDPA.

The OSVDPA aims to work with DPOs during this process and if we find problems with an application, we will reach out to the applicant and try to solve the problem via electronic (fax or email) submission of supplemental information. Only in extreme cases shall the OSVDPA send the application package back to the Prospective DPO due to missing information.

Again, the OSVDPA allows Prospective DPOs to continue to accrue Sea Time and Practical Experience while their certification requests are being evaluated.

If awarded, the OSVDPA DPO Certificate is valid for five (5) years from the issue date printed on the DPO Certificate.

  • Phase 5 (Upgrade). Phase 5 (Upgrade) is an optional phase for DPOs seeking to upgrade their certificate from a Class B DPO Certificate (Limited) to a Class A DPO Certificate (Unlimited). To complete this upgrade a DPO must:
  • Accumulate 30 days of Sea Time on a DP-2 or 3,
  • Conduct 60 hours of Practical on a DP-2 or 3, and
  • Complete the Phase 5 Taskbook.

Once the Phase 5 (Upgrade) requirements have been completed, the Prospective DPO is allowed to take the Phase 5 Assessment under the same procedures listed above for the Phase 4 Assessment.

Revalidation. To revalidate an OSVDPA DPO Certificate, the DPO must accrue 150 days of Sea Time, 450 hours of Practical Experience, and pass the Phase 4A or Phase 4B Assessments.

These procedures are the same regardless of what organization provided your existing, valid DPO Certificate. The OSVDPA allows DPOs to apply for revalidation any time after the fourth anniversary of the issue date printer on their current DPO certificate. Thus, you do not have to wait until the month in which your certificate was issued.

Grandfathering of Experience, Courses, and Certificates. The OSVDPA welcomes Prospective DPOs and DPOs from the Nautical Institute and DNVGL-approved certificate providers and will honor the experience, courses, and certificates earned under these programs. To grandfather into the OSVDPA, DPOs must complete and the applicable form along with any required attachments and pay a one-time fee.

The OSVDPA will work with DPOs during this process and will do whatever we can to quickly approve a DPO's certificate or experience and ensure information is only sent once.

More detailed information for DPOs joining the OSVDPA after earning their DPO certificate from another certification scheme can be found here. Prospective DPOs currently enrolled in another certification scheme but would like to enter the OSVDPA Certification Scheme can find additional information here.

Vessels Used in the Accreditation Process. The OSVDPA accepts Sea Time, Practical Experience, and assessments conducted on any vessels classed by a recognized class society as a DP-1, DP-2, or DP-3 vessel.

Additionally, the OSVDPA will also accept Sea Time, Practical Experience, and assessments on DP-equipped vessels that do not have classed DP systems if the vessel is proven, via an OSVDPA audit, to meet the requirements listed in OSVDPA MPP-1-CV for an Accepted Unclassed Vessel (AUV). Moreover, the OSVDPA will not put restrictions on DPOs who accrue Sea Time or Practical Experience on AUVs and will receive the same certificates as those awarded to DPOs who serve on a DP-1 vessel.

A copy of all referenced documents can be found by clicking the tab labeled "File Library" on the home page or by clicking here and then selecting the appropriate document.

We hope that the above description of our scheme and the process through which someone earns an OSVDPA DPO Certificate was helpful to you, but if questions still remain, please feel free to reach out to the OSVDPA's Operations Manager at +1 (504) 528-9414.