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The Designated Person Ashore (DPA) has the overall responsibility for all matters relating to the Safety Management System (SMS ). Having full access to the Directors of the Company, the DPA is able to ensure that adequate resources are available, and tasks are delegated, if required, whilst retaining overall responsibility. Importantly, if these areas are not delegated then the Directors of the Company retain these responsibilities.
If you are a Director for company owning a commercially owned vessel (500GT or more) which follows the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, you are required by maritime law to have a DPA. Even if you do not follow the ISM Code you can still voluntarily adopt aspects of its best practices. In fact, there are several privately registered yachts who choose to appoint an experienced person or company to undertake similar responsibilities of a DPA to oversee the implementation of a Safety Management System (SMS). This is referred to as ‘Mini-ISM’ and typically provided to yachts less than 500GT, however this may also be dependent on the flag state.
As outlined by the ISM Code, the DPA’s primary responsibilities revolve around the safety management and pollution prevention aspects of a vessel’s operation; this includes emergency response procedures. However, there is a misconception that emergency response is the only role of a DPA. Within the umbrella term of ‘safety’, there are many other distinct roles a DPA will implement. Their duties and responsibilities vary, but here are 4 key roles you may or may not already know.
The Captain is responsible for the implementation of the Company’s Safety Management System (SMS) onboard, by ensuring that the requirements of the SMS are followed, through regular maintenance, running drills and making constant improvements. A DPA compliments this onboard activity by incorporating lessons learned from past incidents across the fleet of yachts operating under the same SMS. The result? Safety in numbers is effective and efficient. Yachts that ‘go at it alone’ are not able to benefit from the information, running the risk of having to learn all of these lessons themselves by investing a significant amount of time studying the safety bulletins from the IMO, flag and class. Time that could be spent on the successful implementation onboard and supporting crew operations.
A DPA supports and encourages a strong safety culture both onboard and ashore. From implementation to operation, this is achieved through disciplined training activities and overseeing onboard familiarisation and training programmes. The additional oversight and accountability ensure all crew are aware of the standards and benefits of adhering to the ISM Code.
By monitoring reports and providing analysis to the shore-based safety company a DPA can report any actions or recommendations to ensure continuous improvement of vessel operations. In particular, regarding matters of safety and pollution prevention.
A DPA can maintain a view of the big picture to allow Captain’s and their crew to concentrate on the day-to-day operations and tasks. Working together succinctly ensures the SMS remains fit for purpose, at all times.
This includes ensuring the Safety and Environmental Protection policy is fit for purpose and regularly reviewed. An effective policy lays out the company’s aims and objectives and details how they are achieved. It is imperative that everyone onboard and ashore fully understand the importance of this policy and work together to ensure the policy objectives are met. A DPA will scrutinise documentation published through the SMS to ensure this remains the case and therefore keeping the yacht ISM compliant.
Any non-conformity, hazardous situation or accident is serious. Each and every report of this type requires a root cause analysis. A DPA and their team will work closely with Captains and Crew to identify what happened and how to avoid recurrence in the future. Referring to the first role mentioned above, a subsequent task completed by a DPA by sharing this information with the rest of the managed fleet presents an opportunity to avoid the recurrence across all yachts operating under the same SMS.
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