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Voluntary Refresher Training during the pandemic - an encouraging account

At the beginning of March, HELMEPA’s Maritime Training Center suspended the implementation of seminars of the 2020 Refresher Training Program at its premises, responding immediately to the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Until then, only 4 seminars had been carried out with the participation of approximately 60 seafarers and shipping professionals.


During those days, just before the first lockdown, we could hardly imagine that this difficult and full of uncertainty year would end on a positive note in terms of our training activities. The only logical and feasible choice under the circumstances, was to continue the Training Program through distance learning, adapting the seminars to webinars.


We quickly realized that, especially in the case of shipping that is synonymous to geographical dispersion, the inevitable limitations of education without physical presence could be partially offset by the potential of a highly expanded participation. However, it remained to be proven in practice whether there would be interest, in these difficult conditions for everyone and much more for the shipping industry, to attend voluntary training seminars.


We began in mid-April with a comprehensive three-hour version of the "Marine Environmental Awareness" seminar that HELMEPA has been providing to its Members for years. Eight months later, on December 15th, the webinar on "Ship Handling in Rough Seas" based on the theoretical part of HELMEPA’s Bridge Simulator training, completed a series of 16 webinars conducted over a total of 29 days. These webinars - two of which were carried out for the first time in English reaching out to foreign crews - were attended by more than 1,000 Merchant Marine Officers and office staff of Member companies, who received electronic certificates of participation.


At the same time, HELMEPA granted seafarers and Member companies unrestricted free access to the two e-learning packages (safety related and environmental training courses) developed since 2014 in collaboration with member-company DYNAMARINe, which were successfully completed by more than 550 people.


But because, especially in education, quality and not quantity is what ultimately counts, these numbers would not matter so much if they were not accompanied by the very positive comments and evaluations of the participants, as well as their high interest and interaction with the speakers, through the numerous written and/or oral questions and answers given in each webinar.


To sum up, we keep these encouraging facts in view of the new 2021 Refresher Training Program that will be announced soon and of course we would like to thank from the bottom of our hearts our excellent collaborators and their companies / organizations / entities (listed alphabetically below), for their voluntary contribution, for yet another year and their immediate and positive response and adaptation to the needs of distance learning:


American Bureau of Shipping / Andriaki Shipping Co. Ltd. / Arcadia Shipmanagement Co. Ltd. / Bureau Veritas / Cleopatra Shipping Agency Ltd. / Costamare Shipping Co. S.A. / Danaos Shipping Co. Ltd. / Diana Shipping Services S.A. / DNV GL / Environmental Protection Engineering S.A. / Euronav Ship Management (Hellas) Ltd. / Lloyd’s Register - Lloyd’s Register Foundation / Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy – Hellenic Coast Guard Head Office / Hellenic Bureau for Marine Casualties Investigation (HBMCI) / Minoa Marine Limited / Olympic Shipping and Management S.A. / RINA Hellas Ltd. / The Swedish Club Greece / The United Kingdom Mutual Steamship Assurance Association - Thomas Miller (Hellas) Ltd.





1,024 participants from 83 Member companies

445 Deck Officers

113 Engine Officers

466 Land-based Staff