Platform for the implementation of a future inland navigation action programme

Refresher classes greener vessel operation

Executive summary

The Horizon 2020 project PLATINA3 provides a platform for the implementation of the NAIADES III action programme. PLATINA3 is structured around four fields (Market, Fleet, Jobs & Skills, Infrastructure) of which Work Package 3 (WP 3) deals with various aspects of the IWT training and careers topics, in particular:

  • Providing input for competence standards related to the use of zero or low emission propulsion systems (see Deliverable 3.1)
  • Identifying knowledge and skills needed for greener vessel operation in refresher classes (the present Deliverable 3.2)
  • Preparing input for competence standards related to onboard systems allowing automation of IWT vessels
  • Supporting the use of modern techniques such as simulators, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in training schemes for greener and highly automated vessel operation
  • Provide input to a roadmap on standards for examination of new competences in the EU regulatory framework

This report presents the conclusions from PLATINA3’s Task 3.2 which identify content for refresher classes for greener vessel operation to enable personnel of inland navigation vessels to update competence with a view to new technologies applied by ageing workforce not yet familiar with life-long learning. This deliverable builds upon existing studies and analyses, interviews as well as the outcomes of the 5th PLATINA3 Stage Event (19 and 20 October 2022) where experts made presentations on this topic and first findings were showcased.

Scope of the report and definitions

The scope of the report is limited to analysing and identifying content for refresher classes for greener vessel operation. It highlights the fact that the use of alternative fuels and energy carriers is likely to lead to a need for diversification on upskilling and refresher classes that is different from the current situation in which almost all vessels are using diesel as fuel. The report has been inspired by the findings of Deliverable 3.1 on alternative fuels or energy carriers that will most likely be used most in future IWT. It applies the methodology suggested by CESNI experts in the discussion of the draft competence tables submitted in the framework of Deliverable 3.1, i.e. the system of a boatmaster sailing a vessel using alternative fuels or energy carrier and the persons being involved in the bunkering of fuels or exchange/maintenance of accumulators as addressing of specific competence that may have to be refreshed periodically.

More concretely, this report 3.2 follows the submission of Deliverable 3.1, which objective is  to “Identify competences, detailed in knowledge and skills, to deal with alternative fuels, propulsion technology and exhaust gas aftertreatment systems that can be proposed to update European Standard for Qualifications in Inland Navigation (ES-QIN)”.[1] Based on findings of other projects and initiatives on zero or low emission propulsion systems and experience gained in drafting competences for lower emission fuels, the deliverable proposed new standards for competence.

Regarding the alternative fuels that are under consideration, or that may play a role in the energy mix of the future, Battery Electric, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen, Ammonia and Methanol as combustion fuel have been considered – Ammonia is currently not used in IWT. E-Fuels (Hydrogen based synthetic Diesel-like fuel) is still in an experimental stage. Experts agreed to strive to go beyond pilot projects currently covered in the permanently updated CCNR overview of pilot projects for zero and low emission fuels, e.g. by including liquid hydrogen as an example of cryogenic gaseous fuel.

As forseen in the PLATINA3 Grant Agreement, this new draft competence standards for new and innovative technologies have been discussed in CESNI meetings. CCNR Secretariat prepared a first set of draft standards for an environmental-friendly navigation that has been presented for the first time in CESNI/QP on 4 February 2021 and been further examined in CESNI/QP on 20 May, 16 September and 2 December 2021, and 19 September 2022. Now available in all four CESNI languages, the draft competence standards have been examined in more detail by expert during the CESNI/QP/QM meeting on 15 November 2022.

In parallel, CESNI experts have been involved in the preparation of the session on task 3.2 and, also, partly, participated in the exchanges on the task 3.2 at the PLATINA3 5th stage event in October 2022. This recent exchange reaffirmed the approach of renewing any future specific authorisation for alternative fuels by a two step approach, including an examination and the proof of navigation time on board vessels using the alternative fuel for propulsion. CESNI experts from different permanent working groups of CESNI, including the working group on technical requirements, underlined the need to update content of refesher classes preparing for an examination on the specific competence, with a view to rapid developments, both in the field of technological progress and regulatory updates of elements concerned by proposed competence standards. This view is comparable to the requests for updating the competence standards for LNG experts in the 2010s which led to the adoption of an establised chapter on LNG competence and examination that entered into force as chapter 4a of RPN on 1 July 2016[2].

Results of the analysis and recommendations

The most important points which have been raised in this report are the following:

  • refresher classes for environmentally friendly vessel operation are needed in view of rapid technological enhancement of engine drivelines, life-long learning principles and, most important, maintaining a high level of safety in the IWT sector
  • to best provide an adequate proof of this knowledge and skills, a combination of an exam and a proof of navigation time in a relevant environment is considered to be most adequate. However, it has been argued that sailing time with a new system on board does not guarantee familiarity with that system. Therefore, it is key to find appropriate ways to identify appropriate documentation of required experience and to establish, next to an exam, also simulator time that should be subscribed in the framework of an approved training programme or alternatively a practical exam.
  • such refresher classes, at least the (practical) examination and the proof of sailing time should be mandatory
  • the recommended interval for refresher classes in need of regular updates is set at 5 years
  • a first step should be to prepare curricula on the basis of approved competence standards related to the use of zero or low emission propulsion systems, which can be followed by preparing curricula for regular education and training programmes and refresher courses
  • Innovations, like VR/AR, could facilitate a more interactive approach in offering short courses to the IWT sector in combination for guidelines for practical “on-the-job” experience, while also VR/AR could facilitate tailored options upon request.

[1] PLATINA3 Grant Agreement, p. 30.

[2] See CCNR resolution 2015-I-7 referring to experience gained with pilots of LNG vessels addressed in CCNR recommendations like TMS Argonon or TMS Scirocco and results from the EU funded project LNG Masterplan

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