This paper discusses the varied aspects and requirements of marine manning, training and licensing for mobile offshore drilling units. In particular, emphasis is placed on the need to update the skills of experienced drilling personnel, the programs available for current personnel and a proposal for the training of future personnel. Also included is a summary of the present status of U.S. Coast Guard and other international marine agencies concerning maritime requirements. A detailed presentation is further made on the types, grades, qualifications, subject matter and procedures which must be followed in obtaining documentation and licensing for operating personnel.
During the past quarter century the field of offshore drilling has grown in a manner unparalleled by any previous marine or offshore industry. Skills and technology have been learned rapidly and have been constantly on the advance. Personnel not previously connected with the marine environment learned marine skills by doing and being faced with the many problems of operating offshore in the waters of the world.
As the offshore units became larger and more sophisticated, the addition of means of propulsion was incorporated in many of the newer rigs. With this advent of propulsion came the problems of new terminology in classification. The terms self-propelled or propulsion-assist were applied to these new rigs by the regulatory bodies. The term vessel was now also applied to the units so equipped.
Since the first several of these units were to be registered under United States flag, all of the preliminary discussion was with the United States Coast Guard. The classification of Self-Propelled Column Stabilized Mobile Offshore Unit was assigned. With this classification all of the existing maritime laws and regulations pertaining to vessels were deemed to apply. (This paper deals only with the manning, licensing and seaman documentation). Immediately the drilling contractor was faced with the problems of required manning and certified personnel. In the past, certain U.S. flag rigs classified as seagoing barges had been required to carry two able-bodied seamen (mineral and oil type sufficed) and one ordinary seaman, but for the first time, industry was talking ocean-going type licenses of Master, Mate, Engineer, full A.B.'s and oilers. Industry was required to have special people aboard--unknowledgeable of the workings of a rig because the drilling unit was now classed as a ship not a rig. Industry took exception to the manning not the classification.
The SEDCO 702 Figure (1) was to be the first unit so classed with the new required manning to be de livered and operated under U.S. flag. SEDCO became the forerunner and developer of a program to satisfy the needs of the contractor and the regulatory bodies. Several months of meetings, discussions and workshops were held with the United States Coast Guard and an initial program was evolved which would later be refined, evaluated and updated as the future progressed.