The SOS project is a European partnership project to harmonise education and training of merchant navy officers and to address various deficiencies and problems in current requirements and practices in (predominately) European Union countries in the maritime sector.
The SOS project initiated the harmonisation of education and training of merchant navy officers through the instigation of several nautical institutions of further and higher education in Turkey (TUDEV – Institute of Maritime Studies), England (South Tyneside College / Northumbria University), Scotland (Glasgow College of Nautical Studies / Strathclyde University) and Norway (Tromso University College). Furthermore the Centre for Factories of the Future have developed a Leonardo funded project to improve safety at sea through improved education and training. The project also addresses compatibility of the training programmes in the countries involved.
The rationale for the project was based around the IMO findings that 80% of accidents at sea are caused by human error. It is reported that mistakes are usually made not because of faulty, deficient or inadequate regulations, but because the regulations and standards, that do exist, have been ignored. The IMO accident analysis reports clearly indicate the causes of many of the accidents at sea are due to deficiencies in education and training of seafarers or disregard for current standards and regulations. There are also severe shortages of well qualified seafarers at different levels of seniority and yet there are many young people unemployed in Europe. The education and training of merchant navy ratings and officers are complex systems of requirements composed primarily of academic (underpinning knowledge), vocational (practical sea service skills) and additional knowledge and skills in seamanship and ancillary skills such as firefighting and so forth. The specific aims of this project are to:
- improve safety at sea and hence reducing loss of life and money,
- help young unemployed people of both sexes to find good and well paid jobs in the shipping industry as Officers of Watch and have the opportunity to progress to higher ranks,
- incorporate internationally accepted academic qualifications at technician level so that young people enrolled on the proposed programmes, after a period of time working on board of vessels, could seek good jobs working on-shore or pursuing new careers,
- create further opportunities for the graduates of these programmes to obtain university degrees in appropriate subjects so that they can find better jobs that require such qualifications,
- develop compatible, complete and up-to-date education and training programmes which include all the international standards for education aspects as well as vocational skills and professional practice, incorporating the latest results from international, European and national projects/programmes,
- provide opportunities for the partner countries to improve and harmonise their existing programmes and build-in transnational pathways so that cadets and staff could transfer from one partner country to another and to apply similar staff training programmes for assessors and verifiers and provide opportunities for them to acquire recognised qualifications.