The new technologies wave of digitalization, Internet of Things, Big Data, etc has radically changed the paradigm of a deck officer or engineer role onboard ships.
Until a decade ago there was a clear borderline between automatic control and manual control. When the automatic control of the main propulsion engine failed you had the possibility to switch to manual mode and control the main propulsion in a conventional way.
Toady, the increased extent of electronic controls of a diesel engine to improve efficiency and reduce fuel consumption has made this “switching option” almost impossible and there is a potential danger of unavailability of ship propulsion.
The engineer role onboard a ship has shifted to that of a plant system manager capable to evaluate and take decisions according to the amount of information available from the sensors installed onboard.
This of course requires a step change of the training strategy that has to move to a life long training program where engineer can attend to update courses arranged in cooperation between private and public training schools.