Qualifying More Officers for LNG trades is Key to Meeting Industry Demand
AMO's Tom Laird weighs in on training issues as the American Maritime Officers sign a memorandum of understanding with Shell Ship Management Ltd., through which Shell will employ U.S. Coast Guard licensed officers represented by AMO to work in its fleet of managed LNG carriers. In 2007, AMO officers also began work with Teekay Shipping Corp. in the company's fleet of LNG carriers and are now sailing in senior positions.
As the demand for qualified officers in the LNG shipping trades continues to climb, American mariners represented by American Maritime Officers (AMO) have returned to the field as members of integrated international crews sailing aboard LNG carriers worldwide.
As opportunities within the international LNG trades increase for AMO officers, the groundwork is nearing completion for AMO to expand its base of American officers qualified to sail aboard LNG carriers.
This year, American Maritime Officers signed a memorandum of understanding with Shell Ship Management Ltd., through which Shell will employ U.S. Coast Guard licensed officers represented by AMO to work in its fleet of managed LNG carriers. In 2007, AMO officers began work with Teekay Shipping Corp. in the company's fleet of LNG carriers and are now sailing in senior positions.
Burmah Gas Transport Limited (BGT), a leading owner and operator of a fleet of eight LNG carriers, has signed a letter of intent with AMO to establish an observation program with billets for AMO officers as observers onboard two of its ships. This unique agreement will allow AMO officers to earn the necessary sea time and STCW endorsement to work in the LNG trades without prior experience. Two other similar agreements with other companies are under negotiation, including one that would secure training billets aboard Q-flex LNG carriers for AMO officers.
"As you have recognized, there is a shortage of qualified LNG officers in the world," wrote Warren Bluestein, president of BGT, in the letter of intent. "BGT would be happy to assist the AMO and the LNG business at large at reducing this shortage by allowing your members access to our vessels and obtain the necessary time onboard to help achieve their required international certification."
These observation programs under development or negotiation will give AMO officers the ability to obtain the necessary observations of loadings and discharges, as well as the sea time, to earn the STCW liquefied gas endorsement.
AMO officers already have access to LNG person-in-charge training certified to the standards of the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators, as well as liquefied gas simulation training on MPRI simulators, at RTM STAR Center, a division of the AMO Safety & Education Plan and the primary training provider for AMO officers.
With the SIGTTO-certified training and the observation programs to earn the STCW LG endorsement, AMO will have the unique ability among U.S. officers' unions to add to the existing group of American officers with the required recency to work aboard LNG carriers as members of integrated international crews and to prepare a new wave of merchant marine officers qualified to meet the industry's growing demand in the LNG trades.
"As the existing cadre of AMO officers with LNG recency accepts employment with Shell, Teekay, or with one of the other companies we are now in discussions with, we are establishing a pipeline for AMO members without previous LNG experience to enter this trade with all the required training and endorsements," said AMO National President Tom Bethel.
For AMO officers without prior tanker experience, AMO has established an observation program through which AMO deck officers can earn the tankship PIC dangerous liquids (DL) endorsement required to work aboard most crude, product and chemical tankers, and to qualify for LNG certification.
"The opportunities created by these agreements are available to AMO thanks to the professionalism and outstanding performance of the AMO officers who are working and who have worked aboard LNG carriers, as well as our union's growing reputation in the industry," Bethel said. "We expect our program will give AMO the unique ability to expand our base of LNG officers with recency and remain at the front of the line to meet the growing demand for qualified officers in the LNG trades."
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