On the job training offers many benefits

General ECGF Training Network
When it comes to exchanges, good planning is always complemented by an open mind. That is something that Mr. Juan Vasco Rovira, from the Spanish Maritime Safety and Rescue Agency SASEMAR, and the staff at the Finnish Border Guard can attest to.

In the beginning of May Mr. Vasco Rovira spent a week on the Finnish Border Guard's offshore patrol vessel (OPV) "Turva". While the exchange was organised in the framework of the ECGFA NET III project, Mr. Vasco Rovira had proactively consulted his colleagues at SASEMAR, the primary coordinators of the Training Exchange, to see if a vessel visit would be possible. As fate would have it, such an opportunity opened up on the OPV Turva.

Turva entered into service in 2014 and is currently the biggest vessel in the possession of the Finnish Border Guard. As Mr. Vasco Rovira is specialised in maritime engineering and vessel maintenance, the chance to visit a vessel as modern as Turva presented him with a unique opportunity learn more about his trade. Many of the vessels in SASEMAR's fleet conduct similar tasks to those of OPV Turva and as such, a valuable comparison could be made between them and OPV Turva.

Mr. Vasco Rovira spent a week on OPV Turva (above), while the vessel conducted its everyday routines.

This opportunity for personal development was not limited to his own field, though. During his week on Turva, he had the chance to follow the everyday operations of the crew, gain experience in boarding a helicopter that had landed on the vessel, and observe a cross-sectoral mass evacuation exercise. All of this meant that he had the chance to observe and compare not only topics close to his own expertise, but also topics that might interest his colleagues back in Spain. Indeed, in his opinion he gained many valuable insights on communication, coordination and training, which he can share at SASEMAR. At the same time, the information he shared on SASEMAR's operations provided valuable knowledge to his hosts at the Finnish Border Guard.

Prime Example

Exchanges like this showcase how well the ECGF Training Program can work, when experts have the chance to influence the content of their on the job training exchanges and are proactive in relation to the training opportunities offered. This freedom to choose creates interest in the programs offered, which in turn translates into fruitful exchange of information and experiences. Often the information gained is part of the learning goals of the exchange, as was the case with the comparisons that Mr. Vasco Rovira could make between the technical aspects of various ships.

At the same time, one can also learn many lessons that are incidental to the original purpose of the exchange. That is in the nature of on the job exchanges. Whether the lessons learned are integral or incidental to the purpose of the exchange, they are all valuable and promote closer cooperation in the sphere of Coast Guard Functions. As such, while clear objectives for an exchange are necessary, being open and receptive facilitates learning across sectors and fields of expertise.

Mr. Vasco Rovira had the chance to follow the preparation and execution of a mass-evacuation exercise from the bridge of OPV Turva.

Mr. Vasco Rovira was very grateful to the crew of OPV Turva for having taken time from their busy schedules to showcase and introduce the vessel to him. He hopes that a similar opportunity is presented to his colleagues as well, and that his organisation can return the favour by hosting members of the Finnish Border Guard in the future.

The ECGF Training Exchange is organised within the EU-funded European Coast Guard Functions Academy Network (ECGFA NET) project. The Training Exchange is coordinated by SASEMAR and the project is led by the Finnish Border Guard.