The role of the Electro-Technical Officer (ETO) on board superyachts is one that has been on the radar for some time, but to little avail. Despite the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA’s) introduction of a Certificate of Competency (CoC) for ETOs and their recent publication of interim arrangements for existing ETOs without a CoC, the ETO is not a mandatory role on board and, as such, is within somewhat of a grey area when it comes to training.

“There is a high demand of ETOs, but not many of them are trained.” Vladimir Cintula, service supervisor of superyacht technology support provider Bond IT tells The Crew Report.

Crewmembers can formally sign on board a vessel as an ETO, but crewmembers can also perform the duties of an ETO while in a different role on board. The result: little differentiation between candidates. “What we see, especially now with rotation, you can have anyone who’s in a position to hire an ETO hire that ETO, whatever the requirement is,” explains Bond IT director Will Faimatea. “He becomes ETO, does two years on the vessel with rotation – now, he only really has one year experience, yet that person now is in the industry and maybe competing for the same job as someone who is very well qualified. But who can tell the difference?”

What’s particularly interesting about the role of an ETO is it is that crewmember’s particular department that is under most scrutiny by a yacht’s owner, adds Cintula. “If you have a problem with the generator, you have another two or three probably, so the owner doesn’t see it. You have a problem with the tender, you have another two or three. But if you have a problem with the TV the owner will probably tell you before you know. If the internet goes down or the TV goes down, that’s the entertainment.”

"If you have a problem with the TV the owner will probably tell you before you know."

So what’s being done to better train ETOs in the superyacht industry? Bond IT is already running six ETO-focused courses and is in discussion with Barcelona’s Nautical Academy about collaboration. “Education is something I’m very focused on,” explains Faimatea. “We’ve got six difference courses, all on a technical level. Of course we’re not in a position to enforce them but we make them available for those crew who want to do them or those captains who feel they want their crew to go on them. It’s all help in the overall level of education, and that can only be a good thing.”

The MCA has recognised the importance of the ETO role, however its introduction of the ETO CoC is both non-mandatory and aimed at the commercial sector. It is, however, still raising awareness of the increasingly important role and it will be interested to see how the training schools provide for this position in the future.

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