Dynamic Positioning Operators - Licensed versus Non-Licensed

Im just wanting to get a feel for what everyones thoughts are on having a Licensed Person or a Non-Licensed Person running the DP System, being that some companies make it mandatory for all DP Personnel to have a license and others do not.

I have worked with both and have seen that either can do a superb job.

Lets here everyones thoughts.


I don’t care if your licensed, hawsepiper, ex-navy, non-licensed or reformed drug addict as long as you don’t screw up, get along with other and aren’t from KP.

If your hired on as a mate on vessel with DP does the company normally send you to school for DP? Particularly the supply vessels in GOM? I just finished testing for my license and am waiting for printing and starting the job search process.

Doc, if you get in the door they do normally pay for your DP training.

dpojean, Personally I prefer a diversity of backgrounds. Getting people with different types of experiance working together gives you an opportunity to learn from each other and will result in a safer operation.

Also with the increasing complexity of modern VMS systems I think we need to start encouraging engineers with experiance in modern unmanned engine rooms to join the team.

Regardless of background the most important skill a new DPO can have is an ability and passion for learning.


Jean, I agree it depends on the person. What’s your thoughts on th eissue? -Jim

Jim, I believe the Dp room should be diverse so we all can learn from each other not just from one proffesionthat was tought to us. I Just Believe that some companies are in a way foolish to want all mates to be the only part of the Dp room.


I disagree, I think it is an insult that pretty much only one company will allow unlicensed DPO’s (Transocean). They will continue this until one of their drillships crashes into a platform, cause all the DPO’s are in the DP room watching TV! I don’t know of any other drilling company that is hiring unlicensed DPO’s, so we must ask, why is that?

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]To the guest that disagrees about having an unlicensed DPO on watch.</span><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’] </span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]How can you think it is an insult that an unlicensed DPO can not stand a proper DP watch?? I am an UNLICENSED Sr. DPO and have been in the DP industry since 1997. I have worked for the company you mentioned for almost 8 years now and can honestly say that I have never stood a DP watch with a TV playing in the DP Room. There is not even any TV available in the DP Room on the vessel I work on.</span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]</span><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]Just because I don’t know how to due an Celestial Fix on my position doesn’t mean that I cant stand a proper DP watch and to say other wise is just being small minded and having a greater than thou syndrome just because you have a license.</span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]</span><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]I came into the DP world with a degree in electronics. I feel this gives me a good understanding of how the DP system actually works. By having an understanding of the internal workings of the systems, I believe this actually gives me a one up on someone just entering the industry with a brand new license that has never even heard anything about DP other than how well it can pay.</span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]</span><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]Just wanting to get my point out there too.</span>

My only question would be, “Who do you want in the bridge when everything goes to crap?”. Answer (BOTH): A Sr.DPO with a degree in electronics and a Sr licensed deck officer on hand to remove the chair from the rear of the DPO at the chime of “POSITION DROP-OUT”

I tried doing a web search for DPO courses and didn’t come up with much. What are some good schools with DPO courses?


Kongsberg has one in Houston. So does Nautronix. Edison CHoeust Offshore has one also (in house). There is only a handfull of DP schools approved by the Nautical Institute. Most companies send employees to a company school that provided the equipment.

Doc, Kongsberg also has a school in new orleans. If you call or email they will be happy to send you a schedule for about three months in advanced. Be sure to schedule early because givin the times they fill up fast.

dpojean, thanks for the info I’ll check it out. I’ve been thinking about trying to get a certificate on my own to help a newbie like myself get into the industry.



Doc, It doesn’t work like that. To get a certificate, you have to have a job in the industry with a DP system. You have to take a 5 day DP induction course, then you have to get 30 days of familiarity with a system, then you have to take a 5 day advanced DP course and couple that with 6 months of actual DP “operation” days. After that, you send your credentials to the Nautical Institute to get certified as a DP operator. I don’t know how someone could do this on their own without the help of a company.

Guest, thanks for the info. I knew you had to log time after the course but didn’t know that it rolled like that. You’re absolutely right, no point in trying to get the induction course on my own.


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<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]Doc, Keep your head up! With the way the industry is going, everyone is building so you probably have just a good chance to join the D.P. team aboard a vessel as anybody else. <span> </span>Just put your name out there now don’t wait until everyone starts to crew up.</span>


One question. As a company why should we hire an unlicensed DPO when a licensed one costs the same amount?

One answer. Why “as a company” dont you hire a mate and send that mate to DP school? Then you’ll have a DPO that’s filling a spot on the station bill and meeting a UCSG requirement…if it’s “cost”…like you say. Building from the ground up, or potentially hiring someone else’s idiot would be my one question as a recruiter…not cost.


I have to agree with you. Ive seen mates come in that had no clue as to what they were doing. Some will stay long enough to upgrade their license and then move on. Others have seen that sitting on DP for 12 hours a day just doesnt fill their fantasies of sailing the high seas and entering all the exotic ports. So, not only have you just waisted a BUNCH of money on hiring a mate and sending him to DP school, plus the cost of going to all the classes to upgrade his/her license. For what?? For them to move on to something else, while leaving you hanging to dry.

If you take someone in from the ground and build them up, they usually show a little more commitment to the company and will stick around for a while. Money well spent!!!


I personally feel that all DPO’s should carry a mates license. If a company is willing to hire an unlicensed person, the company should be willing to pay for them to attain their mates license. This is a win win situation for both parties involved. Just my 2 cents.