A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Dynamic Positioning (DP) Operator

Dynamic Positioning is a very vital cog in a vessel’s operation which is mainly dedicated for offshore activities such oil exploration. Dynamic positioning systems require specially trained and skilled personnel to handle the systems at sea.

The person who mans the entire system and ensures the smooth functioning of a DP vessel is known as a DP operator. The dynamic positioning operator (DPO) needs to be trained appropriately before taking up the reins of the demanding profession. Several maritime institutes offer a recognised course in dynamic position systems successfully aiding individuals to gain the requisite knowledge. Know more about the various DP courses providers in Asia.

Dynamic Positioning (DP) Operator

There are several steps that an individual needs to follow in order to qualify as a good dynamic positioning operator. These progressing graduations can be listed down as follows:

1.       The very first step is to get enrolled for a basic course in a dynamic positioning training program. The course offers and individual all the primary know-how about dynamic positioning.

2.       The second step involves the individual gaining practical knowledge in the subject of dynamic position. Through a month long expedition aboard a DP operating vessel, the person gains the requisite knowledge – both in theory as well in practicality.

3.       A person, who has completed both the above mentioned requirements, now becomes eligible for an advanced course in dynamic positioning training. Also referred to as the DP advanced simulator course, this course enables an individual to further the knowledge gained through the basic course and the practical training.

4.       The fourth step involves a person obtaining practical training – once again –aboard vessels equipped with dynamic positioning systems. The only difference between this training requirement and the previous one specified is that these vessels equipped with DP systems, need to be classified as either Grade II or III.

The individual needs to spend six months gaining, what is technically referred to as ‘watch-keeping’ expertise to be classified as a DP operator. And while individuals can opt for watch-keeping lessons with a Grade I vessel (like in Step II), their dynamic positioning operator certification would be restricted.

5.       After the successful completion of six months of watch-keeping training, the chief DP operator of the Grade II or III ships issues what is known as a ‘Certificate of Suitability.’

This certificate is issued after a demonstration of the training undergone by the trainees is provided to him. This certification along with the remarks provided by chief of DP operations is forwarded to the Nautical Institute. This institute is the recognised authority for issuing the dynamic position operator’s validation certificate.

A dynamic positioning operator’s job role is quite extensive. An individual needs to be very cautious and careful so that no problems arise while the person is on active duty aboard the ship. Any carelessness or inattentiveness could lead to magnified problems for the vessel and execution of its important operations

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  1. Future DPO has to know about the new requirements came in force from 1st of July 2011. The additional documentation from shipping company is required to be submitted with every application where confirmed the total time of applicant has performed as a DP operator on board.

    Furthermore another requirement from 1st of January 2012 is about the DP time prior to Basic Course: a maximum of 30 days DP time gained prior to attending the Basic/Induction course will be recognised toward the award of a DP certificate.

  2. hello,

    what kind of certificates do i need to attend these DP courses?
    i’m still studying at a Nautical University and i’m not willing to waste any time so i want to enter this business as soon as possible,
    can you be so kind to provide me with more info regarding the steps i need to follow taking into account i have’t even finished my studies yet ?

  3. Octavian, I believe u need some sea time before taking dp classes. Like working offshore.

  4. Sir
    Do you know about sponsorship programs of companies ? Or If I do myself is there job availability?

  5. Dear Sr,

    I need to collect my DP sea time for my full ticket, I have a DP Advance course. Do you know vacancy?

    Best regards

  6. Good Day Everyone,
    First up a big thank you to the marine insight team. I just had a few questions regarding this profession as I am currently working on mainstream ships and would like to shift over.
    Once you’ve obtained a dp certificate, how do you become a master in the same field? Do u have to get a masters ticket like they do in normal circumstances in the merchant navy or are there separate chief mates/ masters exams to be done?
    Best Regards.

  7. Sir,

    I am currently pursuing my dns course. I am very much interested in DP and want to persue a career in that. Can you please guide me regarding how to proceed further.

  8. i have a diploma in marine engineering, can i study this course through scholarship (loan)?

  9. @Kuambian: It will depend on the banking system of your country. In India, bank can give education loans to eligible candidates.

  10. I used to be a deck officer in the merchant navy many years ago. But all my cert’s have lapsed.

    Do i need to get this back before going down the DPO route?

    Not sure i have the time to do this anymore…

  11. sir i have almost completed my second mate i have all my other certificate which is required , i need to know what is the procedure to enter in this format of shipping , secondly what companies i can apply for kindly share your thoughts .

  12. hello sir i am second officer with 13 years experience in merchant navy and as a second officer rank i had 6 years experience,i want to change over from main fleet to dp ship as i want to become a dpo please tell me how to go and apply on to get the job and is there any course reqirement and how much the course fees and from where i have to do that
    please reply
    thank you

  13. Want to join in DP Vessel currently doing job in Main Fleet on Oil tanker as Second officer .What Need to do to Change from Main Fleet to DP offshore.

    kindly provide details in My Mail id

    Thank s
    sachin pawar

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