Who's navigating? Swimming in the sea of knowledge

01 Feb 2017 The Navigator

Vietnamese mariner Vu Viet Dung has used the training and experience he received at sea to pursue scientific studies ashore, including doctoral research into standardisation. Now, he has returned to Vietnam Maritime University, to train the next generation of seafarers.

What made you decide on following a career at sea?
I was born in Haiphong, the largest and most important seaport of Northern Vietnam. I come from a family with a longstanding seafaring tradition. My grandfather was a navy captain, all my uncles are naval officers and my father is a master mariner. I was ten years old when my father took me on board a ship for the first time, and that was the moment I decided to follow the family tradition.

Where did you complete your training?
I entered Vietnam Maritime University as a cadet in 2007, and a year later I was sent to Ukraine to continue my education at Odessa National Maritime Academy. The government of Vietnam provided me with shipboard training on different vessels within the national merchant fleet. I started my cadet training on bulk carriers and was later assigned to the tanker fleet as a junior deck officer. A turning point in my career followed in 2014, when I undertook postgraduate research. It was during this period that I realised my passion for knowledge and desire to achieve a deeper understanding of science. Upon graduation, facing the dilemma of choosing between the adventurous life at sea and a career in academia, I made the decision to return to Vietnam and join Vietnam Maritime University to pursue an academic career. This was by far the most important and the best decision I have ever made.

Why did you choose to return ashore to follow an academic career?
I feel excited to be swimming in the sea of knowledge and I enjoy working with students to share the gift of wisdom with them. I feel fulfilment in being able to do what I truly love and, at the same time, contribute to society. That said, however, my time at sea remains a very fond memory and one I shall never forget.

What do you want to teach the next generation in particular about life at sea?
My own experiences at sea and other stories from colleagues help me paint a picture for my students of the dangerous and demanding job that mariners perform. It troubles me that, despite their tremendous contribution to the global economy and civil society, seafarers still don’t receive the full recognition and appreciation that they deserve.

What are you focusing on now, with regard to your own studies?
My wish to contribute to the wellbeing of fellow seafarers has motivated me to focus my doctoral research on maritime human factors. I am focusing largely on standardisation and how it can enhance the quality of use of marine navigation systems. The knowledge and training I have gained as a seafarer has allowed me to see things from a mariner’s perspective and I hope that the outcome of my current work will help make ships a healthy, efficient, and positive work environment for future seafarers.

Name: Vu Viet Dung
Current position: Associate Lecturer
Training: Vietnam Maritime University and Odessa National Maritime Academy