Trainers have profound effect on crew attitude, professionalism

Aug 29, 2016 by Capt. Brian Luke

By Capt. Brian Luke

Over the years, some captains and crew have been skeptical of education and training, or have grown tired of sitting in on certification courses, taking exams or spending well-earned money to do so. Well, I have good news. It’s all worth the effort.

Training is worth it both for those who entrust their lives to the skill and expertise of the crew, and for career progression as a maritime professional.

Central to this effort is the professional maritime instructor who helps crew members develop, learn and mature. The professional maritime instructor brings their expertise, knowledge, experience and stories to the training environment, whether in the classroom or onboard the vessel, to deliver not just relevant knowledge but an attitude about safety, learning and constantly wanting to know more and be better. The best training centers provide the culture and milieu for this to happen; the best instructors bring it to life.

Great maritime instructors can have a profound effect on a crew member’s professional life and our industry. They can influence how crew members think about education and how they view the skills required for every position onboard the vessel.

Instructors are responsible for the incoming generation of maritime professionals. Great instructors produce competently qualified crew members, and in doing so, provide a service that will undoubtedly save lives in the future.

But great instructors do much more than instruct. Their responsible attitudes toward professionalism influence the way crew and other professional trainers who fall within their “sphere of influence” conduct themselves in our industry. Great instructors help foster a culture of excellence among all those who work with them.

They are critical in helping develop new training procedures and materials as regulatory requirements evolve and the complexities of the maritime profession grow. Instructors continually work on the training process and help to increase course effectiveness. Great instructors are always searching for ways to improve course content and delivery. These dedicated, committed and motivated individuals sometimes even spend personal time researching and improving this training process.

Efforts by these great instructors has a ripple effect throughout our industry. The professionalism the instructor imparts on his or her students will ideally then be imbued in the crew members those students work with in the future. These crew members will now have a solid base or foundation to move forward in their careers.

This foundation helps create safer, more competent crew, and that means safer seas for all who travel upon the water. It also helps create an awareness of our fragile ocean environment, love of the seas, and our nautical traditions.

If education and training are indeed the foundations of our maritime industry, then the instructors of our industry are the builders of that foundation. Without these foundations, it would be impossible to operate any vessel safely and securely.

That safety is essential to those that entrust their lives to the crew. They rely on the crew to get them from departure to destination safely and securely. They rely on the crew for their safety at anchor and for their safety when they are playing on one of the water toys. They rely on the crew from the moment they step on the vessel to the moment they step off, regardless of whether they understand a crew member’s duty.

All the while, the crew make it look easy when we know it is not. Education and training are the foundations of the crew’s expertise and ability. Education and training are the foundations of the crew’s competency and professionalism. Education and training are the crew member’s keys to career progression and earning potential. Education and training are paramount to the safety and security of yachting in particular and the maritime industry overall.

The unsung hero to making great education and training happen is the professional maritime instructor. A great instructor’s motivation is to help all crew members learn, no matter the experience level, learning style or educational challenge. This motivation, as well as that of the individual crew member, is key to keeping your career on course.

Capt. Brian Luke is president of International Crew Training in Ft. Lauderdale ( Comments are welcome at