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Industry Opinion: Naoki Saito of Classnk on Tug Master Training

In this interview, ClassNK’s Head of Maritime Training and Human Element Naoki Saito talks in-depth about the tug
master training, and why he thinks the training is so important.

Captain Naoki Saito, how did you come to work with ClassNK and what are your particular responsibilities at ClassNK?
In my first career in the maritime industry, I joined onboard as a training instructor for the National Institute for Sea Training (NIST), Japan after graduating from Tokyo University of Mercantile Marine in 1995. I achieved the Certificate of Competency for First Grade Maritime Officer (Navigation) based on STCW Convention in 2001. In 2003-2004, I studied at the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmo, Sweden, which was organized by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
After WMU, I was involved in the ratification of Maritime Labour Convention 2006 for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and was the vice chairperson at the Flag inspection and PSC guidelines meeting at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2008. Finally, I was promoted to the Professor at the NIST in 2013 and moved to ClassNK to establish the certification service for maritime education and training. Now, I am a Head of Maritime Training and Human Element in ClassNK.

How does ClassNK approve training courses?

We follow the procedures to approve the training courses which are the common standards in the international educational accreditation. The procedures consist of two parts. Firstly, we conduct the document review which is organized by the IMO model course formats which have aim, objectives, qualification of instructors, course syllabus, and assessment process.
Secondly, we conduct the audit on-site by attending the real training course which is conducted with the same contents which have already been submitted to us. Particularly, during our audit on site, we take care of not only the administrators of the training providers but also the teaching facilities and trainees.

Are there any specific rules or requirements for the tug master training?

The competences of tug masters are outside of the STCW Convention as far as I know, at least from the international point of view, any specific rules and requirements have not been presented so far. In addition, I have never met the educational experts of tug master training until I met the SeaWays Global. From the pedagogical point of view, the training is not completed by only hands-on teaching. Nowadays, the training should be organized with the variety of teaching methods including theoretical lectures in classroom, simulator exercises and hands-on practical teaching. In my experience, SeaWays Global are the first training company to provide well-organized training programmes for tug masters that not only provide a rich training experience but also academic theory lessons for towage operations.

Why do you think tug master training is important? What are the main benefits of the tug master training for
towage companies and the industry itself?

The competences of tug masters are absolutely important because the merchant ships are getting bigger and bigger, and in addition carry dangerous and valuable cargoes. Berthing and leaving port, are the most stressful moments for ship’s crew because lots of players are involved in, for example pilot, bridge team, tug master, line handler and ship’s crew. In addition, wind and sea conditions directly affect operating ships during berthing and leaving port. So, the competences of tug masters are key factors in the operation. If the competences of tug masters can
be developed to contribute to safe operation at sea, the benefits will not only consist of saving time and money for shipping companies but also preventing incidents in port. I am sure the benefits are not so small for shipping and port industries.

It’s been a little over a year since SeaWays Global achieved ClassNK accreditation for its tug master training. What were the facility, course material and instructors requirements to get such a recognition?

We approved the tug masters training programmes by SeaWays Global in July 2016. Actually, it was a challenging mission for us because we didn’t have any experience for the approval of tug masters training. We adopted the approval procedure of STCW standards for tug masters being trained by SeaWays Global. We carefully examined the teaching syllabus, facilities, qualifications of instructors, text books and also the teaching attitude
of the instructors. We then realized that the training programmes offered by SeaWays Global are the best in the towage industry and we would like to promote the training with our certificate to contribute to safe tug operations at sea. I remember the most impressive thing in the audit on
site was not only theoretical-based teaching but also strong passion to teaching by the instructors. Now, we are like a family more than friends. We would like to introduce the tug masters training by SeaWays Global to the international tug masters training society. I look forward to working together with Steve, Neil and Arie.

ASD/ATD Tug Handling and Harbour Towage Course

What are the benefits of ClassNK approval?

I can tell you mainly the three benefits of our approval. First, our approval procedure is quite speedy. Although we take care of the documents and audit on site, our procedure is simple, then straight to the certificate. Second, we provide our reputation to your training. ClassNK has earned an outstanding reputation for its long-standing dedication to safety at sea and preventing marine pollution. We would like to provide our reliability with your training. Finally, we provide a high-quality audit. All of our experts are highly regarded for their quality and experience, as well as
their ability to respond quickly to a client’s request. We will contribute to your training without any borders.

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