Seaways - January 2023

01 Jan 2023 Institute News

As we enter a New Year it is my pleasure to send very best wishes to all of our readers. Thank you for the contribution you make to our maritime profession and The Nautical Institute and especially those who have highlighted our role in the community through our NI 50th Anniversary events.

Seatime, experience and professionalism

I think it is worthwhile to consider our role in the broader context of professionalism – so here are some thoughts.

Professional associations like this one are important because they provide support, networking opportunities, and professional development resources for members. For mariners, The Nautical Institute helps them stay up-to-date with the latest industry standards and regulations, as well as providing access to training programmes and other educational resources. For those ashore, we provide a vital link with those at the ‘sharp end’, and the chance to expand your knowledge and network across all the many facets of this complex and wide-ranging sector.

For everyone, we offer a community of peers with whom you can share experiences and advice, as well as opportunities for networking and advancing your careers.

We advocate for members on important issues, such as safety regulations, which help protect the interests of mariners and the broader maritime industry. Ultimately, The Nautical Institute provides an important resource for mariners, to support your professional development and success in the maritime industry.

I am always keen to learn of your thoughts and how we, as your professional body, can help further improve our contribution to maritime safety and to supporting your professional development.

As the door opens to the next round of discussions on changes to STCW, we will be engaging as much as possible in these discussions – it is important we know what you think. So do write to me at with your contributions. Thank you.

Leadership, technical skills and soft skills at sea

One area we will be paying attention to is the role of leadership versus technical skills, particularly at sea. I think this is especially important as technology changes and different skills are required. So what does this mean?

Technical skills, to my mind, refer to the specifc knowledge and abilities required to perform a specific task or job in a maritime context. These skills may include things like navigation, engine maintenance, and cargo handling. 

Soft skills, on the other hand, are personal qualities and abilities that are not specifc to a particular job or task. They include things like communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.

In a maritime context, technical skills are essential for ensuring the safe and efficient operation of a vessel. These skills are typically learned through formal training and education programmes and are essential for obtaining Certificates of Competency.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are important for building relationships and working effectively with others – be it on a ship or ashore. These skills are often developed through experience and can be crucial for building trust and collaboration among crew members.

While both technical and soft skills are important for mariners, developing soft skills can often be more challenging. This is because soft skills are often more subjective and difficult to measure, and may require a combination of experience, self-reflection, and feedback from others to develop. In contrast, technical skills are more objective and can be learned through formal training programs and practice.

Overall, both technical and soft skills are important for success in the maritime industry. Technical skills provide the necessary knowledge and abilities to perform specific tasks, while soft skills help to build strong relationships and effective teamwork.

I am sure as the discussions develop, we will consider the requirement for both sea experience and time ‘in the workplace’ ashore.

Experience is essential for safe operations because it allows mariners to develop a deep understanding of the sea and its various conditions, as well as the skills and knowledge needed to navigate safely and efficiently.

Soft skills are often developed through experience and can be crucial for building trust and collaboration among crew members.

With experience, mariners can anticipate and react to changing weather and sea conditions, avoid potential hazards, and make informed decisions in emergency situations.

Experience is key for mariners to develop a strong sense of situational awareness, which is essential for effective control of the vessel and ensuring the safety of crew, cargo and passengers. We should consider this very carefully when economic pressures and a lack of understanding often lead to unwelcome reductions in seatime and in time spent working with others.

I wish you all a successful and safe 2023.