North Group, a leading global marine insurer headquartered in Newcastle, has identified two  of the root causes of major claims on board ships – ship officer quality and safety culture.

North Group’s deputy loss prevention director Colin Gillespie, said: “Quality officers are vital for the smooth running of ship operations. The North East’s long standing maritime industry has ensured the region continues to produce a high calibre of quality marine staff through leading institutions including, South Shields Marine School and Newcastle University’s School of Marine Science and Technology. However, despite the North East’s large contribution to the industry there is still a skills shortage.”

In a bid to tackle the skills shortage and enable the ship-owners they insure to identify knowledge gaps North Group has partnered with Seagull Maritime AS, who are based in Boldon. Both are embedded in the North East’s maritime history.

Through the partnership Seagull Maritime AS, a leading provider of competence management solutions and e-learning material for seafarers, will provide a discounted online crew evaluation system and associated benchmarking tool to North Group’s insured ship-owners.

Colin Gillespie, continued: “Crew quality is an ongoing issue for ship-owners due to a shortage of officers whilst still having to meet minimum manning standards. This can result in low quality officers continuing to circulate in the market. These officers can be both ineffective in their work and potentially unsafe, resulting in personal injury, loss of life and high-cost claims for ship-owners.

“We hope our partnership with Seagull will help raise awareness of the quality issues and offer practical assistance to our ship-owners in their efforts to employ the Right Crew.”

Seagull reports that 8% of qualified seafarers scored less than 40%. Michael McCabe, managing director of Seagull UK, said: “Low levels of knowledge can be a potential danger to the ship, the crew and to the individual themselves. Where low levels of knowledge are identified they must be addressed.

“North Group is well known for its pioneering and innovative approach to loss prevention so we are very pleased to be working with them on this campaign. North members who sign up to our service can immediately offer online tests to crewmembers to evaluate their background knowledge.”

In October last year North published three new briefings entitled Attracting the ‘Right Crew?’, Selecting / Recruiting the ‘Right Crew?’ andRetaining the ‘Right Crew?

“The right crew for a ship-owner depends on the type of vessel, where it operates and the demands of the sector and company preferences. Attracting, selecting, recruiting and retaining the right crew – and identifying the ‘wrong’ ones is critically important to our ship-owners.” says Gillespie.