FRC Test Coxswain Course
FRC International have developed a unique training course and qualification for the professional maritime sector. The Test Coxswain course is designed for both experienced crew members and technical staff who support the Test & Evaluation (T&E) of high performance craft.
As the cost and value of smaller vessels has increased it has become more important that the assessment of these craft to ensure they are fit-for-purpose is objective, valid and reliable. Gone are the days of an individual coxswain saying "that's OK" to approve an acquisition worth potential millions of dollars.
Also government agencies are starting to address the issue that a good coxswain can make a poor boat look good, whilst a poor coxswain can make a good boat look bad. Both of these can result in expensive procurement mistakes being made that have ramifications for many years into the future.
The Test Coxswain course, which takes best-practice for the Test Pilot community and integrates it with the specific nature of the high performance marine sector. It provides the Test Coxswains with the knowledge and tools to support not just the T&E phase but also ensure the appropriate requirements are included in the craft specification that designers and builder use to develop their craft.
The FRC-INT Test coxswain course provides the designers, builders and buyers with the capability to enhance both craft design and ensure that organisations get craft that are fit-for-purpose for the extreme operating envelope that they are sending their crews out to operate in.
In addition to the more obvious craft handling assessment, the issue of the development and assessment of the computer systems is also addressed. Issues such as ECDIS Usability are becoming more recognised and so it is essential that the T&E staff understand how these systems may be specified and assessed to ensure safe and effective operations in the worst conditions the craft can be expected to operate in.
In addition to FRC-INT staff, other Subject Matter Experts presenting during the four-day Test Coxswain course, these included the UK MOD, the RNLI, craft designers and data acquisition experts.
The course is developed in two parts, theory and practical. The theory includes may issues from the aviation Test Pilot sector where it is essential to understand the control required by the trials and how the Text Coxswain is essential in achieving this. Analogous examples used include the similarities between helicopters landing on moving ships and how the RIB/Pilot boat coming alongside the ship and maintaining station while safety disembarking personnel. The practical aspects concentrates on areas such as T&E logistics, data/video acquisition and analysis and how this is used to assess the craft and it's operational use.
Although the Test Coxswain has to provide feedback on the handling of the craft, rather than just having good and bad, FRC-INT staff worked with experts from around the world to develop Test Pilot assessment tools into marine-specific versions that supports the T&E of high performance craft.
One aspect of the training that was explored with Lorne Campbell, world-renowned high-speed craft designer, is the need for the Test Coxswain and designers to speak the same language to ensure that mistakes aren’t made due to misinterpretation due to the language used.
The feedback from all attendee’s on the Test Coxswain course was 100% positive:
'Awesome week, thanks you to everyone involved'
'The course has been a great learning experience'
'Great content, facilities, instructors, speakers'
'Was a good exposure to all aspects and considerations of test coxswain task and opening the coxswain thought process to the engineer, design, procurement side'
'The Test Coxswain course has made me a more appreciative and open minded evaluator'