The Nautical Institute Strategic Plan 2021-2026

25 Feb 2021 Institute News

January 2021 Edition


For nearly 50 years, The Nautical Institute has represented the best of what the shipping industry has to offer in terms of dedication and professionalism around the world. It is inevitable that the world, and the nature of shipping itself, has changed considerably over this period. It is appropriate to review our vision and mission to make sure that we are still meeting the ideals established then. As a membership organisation we are driven by the needs of our members. These were most recently determined through a comprehensive President’s Questionnaire sent to all our members which returned almost 4,000 responses – a fantastic level of engagement.  Drawing upon this feedback and the core values and aims of our Articles of Association, our aspirations are best described through our Vision and Mission Statements:


To provide inspiration, knowledge and leadership to maritime professionals around the world.


  • To inspire maritime professionals
  • To work together
  • To share ideas and best practices
  • To enable better decision making though the process of professional development
  • To provide a safer, environmentally sound and sustainable maritime industry

The actions we take will be centred on our core mission to support and lead professional development in the maritime sector. They will be based on our values and our diversity and inclusion pledge to ensure The Nautical Institute, and the maritime sector as a whole, benefit from the broadest and strongest knowledge base possible.

Diversity and Inclusion Pledge

The Nautical Institute, as the global body for maritime professionals, pledges its commitment to encourage, support and celebrate a diverse and inclusive maritime industry, including gender, race, ethnicity and age. Furthermore, The Nautical Institute pledges to embrace equal opportunities and visibility in all activities of the Institute. The diversity pledge is one way that we intend to deliver our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We expect that our Strategic Plan will help in six of the 17 areas that the UN has identified as a shared blueprint for a better future for all. In selecting these areas of activity, we expect to give practical input to government-level proposals for improvements in the quality of education, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, economic growth, reduced inequalities and climate action.

  • Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
  • Reduced inequalities: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Responsible consumption and production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Climate action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

In line with our pledge and the UN goals, the Strategic Plan 2021-26 emphasises the need to build capacity and support around the world. The establishment of The Nautical Institute Foundation will allow the NI to extend the scope and reach of its current activities in areas where the NI has an interest but which are not the main focus of its own operations.


We will realise our vision by focusing our efforts on four interrelated and interdependent areas of activity. Each of these will support and strengthen the others, creating interaction and synergy across The Nautical Institute as a whole. The four areas of activity will be: membership and branches, information and publications, research and relationships and qualifications. Continuous professional development and the importance of the human factor will be central to the work of all four areas. These activities will be supported by a centralised business services hub that optimises general and administrative functions across the organisation enabling technical and department leaders to concentrate on their core activities.

Member Survey

To help inform our decision making a survey on the NI’s current and future direction was sent to a total of 15,164 members and nonmembers. We received an overall response rate of 25% – and a response rate of 34% from members. The high level of engagement shows the importance of our activity to our members and to the wider community. Survey respondents were asked to identify which of the membership benefits they value most. The highest-scoring responses were:

  • Seaways magazine
  • CPD and networking
  • Status as a maritime professional
  • Representation at the IMO

Members were also asked to comment on their level of engagement with their local NI branch, and the perception of the NI’s impact at international, regional and local levels. From the responses to this section, it was clear that the NI enjoys a high professional reputation at the international level, but in some areas support is lacking at the local level. One of the key questions to consider when planning our areas of focus was in which technical areas we should concentrate our efforts. As in previous surveys, there is still a great deal of concern over seamanship, shiphandling and competency assessments. MASS and cyber security are matters of considerably more concern than in the previous surveys, indicating the speed of development in these areas. By far the area where most respondents wanted to see us focus was human performance and limitation, including issues around fatigue and mental health on board. It is evident from the survey responses that members highly value our technical expertise and the opportunities that we offer for professional development. In order to further capitalise on these strengths, it is important that we have a structure in place that allows us to respond quickly and flexibly to the evolving demands of the industry and our members. We may not know exactly what the maritime sector will look like in five years, but we can make sure that we are in position to respond to the changing situation.



The Institute aims to increase the number of individual members to 10,000 by 2026, up from just under 7,000 in 2020 – a level it has been at for over 20 years. It will seek to continue to diversify the organisation and draw on our diversity pledge when attracting new members.

Strengthening the branch network

We will do this through re-energising the NI branch network, as it is clear from the survey that members value this, to enhance the value of membership and deepen members’ engagement with the Institute. There will be efforts to meet the needs and aspirations of younger members and a push to attract more group membership arrangements through employers. The NI branch network is one of the Institute’s most important assets. Branches will be supported through the appointment of regional administrators. Their role will be to support the branch secretaries, to retain existing members and to give impetus to recruitment of new members. 

Enchanging membership value

The Institute is committed to enhancing the value members derive from their membership. A member app will be launched by mid-2022, to ensure that members have easy access to a variety of tools to assist them in their continuing professional development (CPD). We will provide exclusive member content, for example recordings of NI webinars and branch technical presentations. A one-to-one mentoring scheme will be introduced, drawing on the wealth of knowledge that exists among Institute members. And the Institute will continue to provide meaningful career support to members, helping them to progress in their chosen fields.

A sense of belonging

The creation of a greater sense of belonging among members is another important goal for the Institute over the coming five years. Ensuring each member is part of an active branch is an important part of this, but other initiatives will include a better, and more welcoming, onboarding experience for new members. Existing members will get frequent reminders about how to make the most of the benefits available to them.

Younger Mariners

The Institute will improve its appeal to younger mariners. Greater emphasis will be placed on the work of the NI’s Younger Members Council while students will be offered free digital membership of the Institute. NI branches will be encouraged to appoint at least one young mariner to their committee and a NI Young Mariner of the Year award will be launched during 2021.

Group Membership

Lastly, a stronger focus will be placed on establishing group membership arrangements for maritime employers. Offering the advantage of a sizeable discount, these arrangements allow organisations to support the professional development of their key staff with benefits for both employer and employee.

Key deliverables

  • 10,000 members by January 2026

  • Establish local administration support to welcome new members, liaise with speakers, deal with admin etc.
  • Free membership for students
  • Effective membership mobile application
  • Growth of our Nautical Affiliate programme

Our membership revenues

Members make an important contribution to the organisation through their membership subscription fees. These fees are collected centrally and disbursed in the following areas:


Our practical, expert-led publications will continue to set the standard for industry knowledge. As an Institute the development and publication of best practice has been central to our values. In our ambitions to monetise our knowledge we must keep at the core of our strategy the quality of our technical input.

Strengthening Technical Resource

For the future this means a continuing emphasis on the robustness of the technical resource that we draw on. A dedicated technical person will help to advise on the subject matter that should be delivered and help steer publications through the writing and peer review processes. Creating and maintaining a database of member knowledge and expertise – and showing which projects members have worked on in the past – will help us leverage this asset to strengthen our offering in the future. These activities build on the strength of the current products that seafarers appreciate because the content draws on a wide range of experts in their field, including serving seafarers and contributors from all over the world. The volunteer contributors find the process a rewarding one, as they share ideas to identify best practice and identify gaps in training and knowledge.

Expanding our delivery

Information sources will not be limited to books and magazines. We will identify other forms of delivery, keeping our popular print books, building our ebook offering while determining what best supports mariners from cadet to more senior posts. We will utilise apps and other digital and physical media that are helpful to mariners.

Creating a knowledge library

We are ambitious about the contribution that we broadly call our ‘knowledge library’ will make to the Institute’s turnover. The books have been a major fund raiser for the Institute’s activities in the past. The expectation is that that the wider knowledge library will make an even bigger contribution in the future. This will be another opportunity to highlight key issues and resources around human performance and limitation.

Key deliverables

  • £1 million annual income from information and publications
  • Expand webinar and digital offering
  • Create and populate database of technical expertise by end of 2021
  • Digital library of expert resources available to our members by end of 2022.


Since the Institute’s foundation, strong relationships have been formed with other organisations such as universities, training centres, governments and international bodies. Through these links we work together for the furtherance of nautical science and practice. We have gained NGO status at the IMO and sister organisation status at IALA. We also work closely with a myriad of nationally and internationally recognised organisations such as the International Hydrographic Organization, the International Chamber of Shipping and InterManager.

Forging links

In our fast-changing world, the need for strategic relationships to collaborate towards establishing best practice has never been so important. These links will help us to identify research opportunities to understand the skills of the future and to develop short courses to help people gain them. We will continue our work at the IMO and other organisations to, for instance, input user feedback into the design process on human centred design.

Sustainable development goals (SDG)

We will work to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs as the NI can provide practical input to government consultations in this area. We will develop SDG templates for our branches customised for national use and leverage our active participation with the IMO and WOC to address SDGs from a regulatory and commercial perspective.

Understanding our assets

The greatest asset the Institute has is its people. The 2020 pandemic has really shown how effective these people can be when utilising technology. Our members are some of the leading experts in shipping both at sea and ashore. The creation of a database of their interests and expertise will help us to share ideas and identify best practice more effectively. As a starting point, we will send a questionnaire asking members how they are willing to share their knowledge with the membership and the wider industry.

Sharing expertise

We will also consult on how traditional skills can be retained and understand what we can learn from those using the latest technology. Members participate in the work of the NI in a number of ways. They contribute to our books and magazines, to the work of our committees and through our involvement with industry bodies. As a membership organisation we are as powerful and effective as our ability to share our ideas on a global basis.

We will continue our work at the IMO and other organisations to, for instance, input user feedback into the design process on human centred design

Key deliverables

  • Ensure an effective cross-discipline presence at the IMO

  • Consult with our members and customers to align our outputs with their expectations through an annual formal survey

  • Create industry consultation groups during 2021 to establish emerging needs
  • Set up funded research activities that support development of future skills initiatives
  • Build relationships and partnerships with leading companies and organisations
  • Work with branches at local and national level to promote engagement with flag states.



We will identify new technology and knowledge within the industry and move to fill the skill gaps. Technological improvement in the industry is taking place in so many fields. At the same time, advances in technology and remote assessment offer possibilities to develop and expand training and CPD opportunities for revalidating DPOs. We will develop standards and design training programmes, working with technical forums, industry working groups, our customers and DP training providers worldwide. These standards will meet industry aspirations to improve knowledge, keep seafarers safe and protect the environment. Delivery will be through short courses, new qualifications, self-study schemes, accreditation and recognition of third party activities. New qualifications could include dynamic position engineering qualifications and a qualification for DP station keeping for autonomous vessels. Standards, training and certification are being developed for those conducting bunker, draft cargo, condition surveys, DP for remote operations and DP vessel maintenance engineers.

Delivering training

We will investigate new means of training delivery, including the possibility of cloudbased technology for augmented reality (AR) and simulation training. This does not mean that traditional technology or skills training will be ignored. The unique quality and experience of those who deliver our short courses is our huge strength. We will continue to maintain the high quality of selection and training of NI instructors and facilitators. As a responsible organisation, we will support training institutes, including DP training providers, to achieve our accreditation standards and, in their turn, deliver high quality new training.

Customer experience

Our customers are key to our success. We will introduce customer service improvements such as a seamless booking system, continued high quality delivery of courses with emphasis on knowledge retention, easy to read course material and e-certificates. The possibility of payment for online bookings in local currencies will also be explored.


We will use our expertise in training to offer consultancy services to other organisations seeking to develop their own solutions in areas such as identifying standards and criteria for behaviour competency. These might also cover supply, administration, certification and security.

Key deliverables

  • £2 million annual income from qualifications, courses and accreditation services
  • Expand our range of qualifications, courses and scope of accreditations services in new areas such as remote control centres for autonomous ships.
  • Develop online learning resources
  • Develop consultancy services
  • Encourage training institutes to aspire to the NI Certificate of Excellence
  • Increase the number of training institutes achieving certificates of excellence
  • Revise the NI’s self-study schemes and provide online technical library facility


The work of the four technical focus areas will be supported and expanded by the development of The Nautical Institute Foundation (NIF). This new charitable initiative, formally launched in 2020, will enable the NI to extend the scope and reach of its current activities. The NIF has its roots within the NI and aims to improve standards in areas where the NI has an interest but which are not the main focus of its own activities. The NIF was established after research identified maritime safety initiatives that would attract potential donors keen to support such projects but only via a separate charity. It is well placed to develop and strengthen networking contacts with industry stakeholders, other foundations and specialist interest groups. The NIF’s vision is to be recognised by key industry stakeholders as a leading organisation to fund capacitybuilding solutions for the wider maritime community. These might, for example, include projects related to work such as marine surveying and training in port safety or environmental awareness. Among other things, the NIF will look at training and accreditation in the many maritime industries which are currently unregulated, focusing on areas with less developed safety cultures and standards. It will plan its project delivery based on perceived need, by assessing safety and environmental statistics or by following up calls from industry bodies, NGOs or maritime communities. For example, if a region suffers a series of incidents in a particular sector, the NIF may consider running local training. This would aim to address the issues that caused the accidents and provide workers with skills to avoid repeat incidents. The first of these projects will look at bulk carrier safety, in particular at awareness surrounding cargo liquefaction. Proposed measures include a short distance learning course, which would be followed by a twoday workshop in relevant locations, leading to formal certificates valid for five years.


The business support hub will provide general and administrative functions, allowing technical and department leaders to concentrate on their areas of expertise. This will enable us to streamline our processes and develop better ways of working that make the most of our strengths. It will ensure that our work is supported by well trained, skilled and flexible staff. The hub will be the main point of contact for various outsourced activities and contracts to ensure standardisation across the organisation. Activities covered by the hub will include systems and IT to ensure that our CRM is providing the best possible support for the NI. Processes will be automated and aligned where possible to allow staff to concentrate on other, higher level, activities. The system will streamline and centralise work effectively and cohesively across all teams, improving communication and capability.

Key deliverables

  • Skills audit of all staff to identify gaps and underutilised strengths

  • Internal reorganisation to make skills available across the whole organisation

  • Identify where process can be aligned and simplified.
The Nautical Institute Strategic Plan 2021-2026