Vessel operations coordinator


Vessel operations coordinators manage chartered vessels’ transit and performance optimizing the schedulers but also assessing the capabilities and the risks for vessels according to the different types of cargo such as crude oil or other chemical cargos. They make sure all necessary certifications are according to the regulations and all employees have up-to-date passports and licenses. Vessel operations coordinators schedule and maintain records of vessels’ maintenance. At the operational level they have contact with the customers, following up customer complains, identifying new opportunities and providing customers with solutions.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to vessel operations coordinator:

traffic coordinator
coordinator of vessel operations
vessel operations manager
vessel operations coordinator (VOC)
shipping operations manager
vessel operations supervisor
shipping traffic coordinator

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally the minimum required to work as a vessel operations coordinator.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Vessel operations coordinator is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Vessel operations coordinator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to vessel operations coordinator.

port coordinator
ship pilot dispatcher
water traffic coordinator
aircraft cargo operations coordinator
ordinary seaman

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of vessel operations coordinator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of vessel operations coordinator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

non-vessel operating common carrier
freight inspector
marine cargo inspector
deck officer
maritime pilot

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of vessel operations coordinator.

  • Types of cargo: Distinguish different types of cargo e.g. bulk cargo, liquid bulk cargo and heavy materials.
  • Physical parts of the vessel: Detailed knowledge of the different physical components of the vessel. Provide maintenance and care to ensure optimal operations.
  • International maritime organisation conventions: Know International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conventions in order to maximise the efficiency and safety of international shipping.
  • Types of maritime vessels: Know a large variety of maritime vessels and their characteristics and specifications. Use that knowledge to ensure that all security, technical, and maintenance measures are taken into account in their supply.
  • Deck operations: Know general activities carried out on a ship’s deck. Understand the hierarchy of a ship’s crew and the tasks performed by different roles on the deck. Plan and coordinate vessel operation and communication between vessels.
  • Principles of cargo stowage: Understand the principles of cargo stowage. Understand procedures by which containers should be efficiently loaded and unloaded, taking into account gravitational forces that are exerted during transportation.
  • Match vessels to shipping routes: Understand how particular types of ships are transport different kinds of cargo and operate on different shipping routes. Know the current maritime routes to plan and schedule the arrival and departure of ships from ports.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of vessel operations coordinator.

  • Develop efficiency plans for maritime shipping: Arrange the most efficient use of cargo space and vessel movement, monitor the number of available cranes and dock space and assess the physical condition of ships and impact of cargo weight on the stability of ships.
  • Plan procedures for cargo operations: Plan a series of logistical procedures for cargo operations staff. Ensure the implementation of plans to the original specification.
  • Supervise unloading of cargo: Supervise unloading processes for equipment, cargo, goods and other items. Ensure that everything is handled and stored correctly in accordance with regulations and standards.
  • Manage vessel fleet: Manage a vessel fleet owned by a company; know the exact fleet capacity, maintenance requirements and official licenses required/held.
  • Supervise loading of cargo: Supervise the process of loading equipment, cargo, goods and other items. Ensure that all cargo is handled and stored properly in accordance with regulations and standards.
  • Inspect maritime operations: Inspect maritime activities and ensure that operations are performed correctly and in a timely fashion; safely operate lifesaving and firefighting equipment.
  • Provide expertise on tanker operations: Provide tanker operations expertise and information to colleagues in areas such as assessing vessel capability, assessing risk associated with a specific vessel use, and interacting with in-transit vessels, to help achieve a desired voyage outcome.
  • Apply regulations on cargo transport operations: Display knowledge of relevant local, national, European and international regulations, standards, and codes concerning the operation of freight transport.
  • Establish draft annual schedules for vessels: Establish draft annual schedules and maintain the schedules of vessels as requirements change.
  • Advise on maritime subjects: Provide information and advice on maritime laws, vessel registration, and safety regulations.
  • Negotiate prices for transport of cargo: Negotiate prices for cargo transport; pursue maximum efficiency in logistics and transportation; calculate efficient routes for freight transport.
  • Maintain vessel inventory: Keep an up-to-date inventory for a vessel, including information on spare components, oil and fuel. Determine the amount of fuel that will be needed for a voyage; ensure that sufficient amounts of fuel are on board at all times.
  • Conduct on board safety inspections: Conduct on board safety inspections; identify and remove potential threats to the physical integrity of the ship crew.
  • Assess vessel capability: Assess vessel capability utilising different methods and drawing on information from the deck crew; determine specific measurements and gather data for further calculations on the capability of vessels.
  • Ensure incident free execution of voyages: Ensure incident free execution of the voyages of international charter ships carrying crude, chemical and/or clean oil cargos, and optimise chartered vessel performance. Anticipate any potential incidents and plan measures to mitigate their impact.
  • Consider constraints in maritime shipping: Consider multiple constraints specific to maritime shipping such as: the maximum draught of ships; the depth of channels and canals; tide measures; and the respective impact on load capacity. Create detailed scenarios and integrate them into shipping planning.
  • Calculate the amount of cargo on a vessel: Determine the weight of cargo on tanker ships and cargo vessels. Calculate the exact amount of loaded cargo or cargo to be discharged.
  • Coordinate the itineraries of vessels: Develop, manage, and coordinate the itinerary of vessels worldwide together with other stakeholders.
  • Consider time zones in execution of work: Work considering multiple time zones and plan activities depending on the voyage times and respective operating times of ports around the world.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of vessel operations coordinator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Write emergency instructions for handling of dangerous goods: Provides written instructions on the handling of dangerous goods in an emergency. The instructions must be composed in a language that every crew member is able to understand.
  • Give instructions to staff: Give instructions to subordinates by employing various communication techniques. Adjust communication style to the target audience in order to convey instructions as intended.
  • Act reliably: Proceed in a way that one can be relied on or depended on.
  • Manage staff: Manage employees and subordinates, working in a team or individually, to maximise their performance and contribution. Schedule their work and activities, give instructions, motivate and direct the workers to meet the company objectives. Monitor and measure how an employee undertakes their responsibilities and how well these activities are executed. Identify areas for improvement and make suggestions to achieve this. Lead a group of people to help them achieve goals and maintain an effective working relationship among staff.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Use maritime English: Communicate in English employing language used in actual situations on board ships, in ports and elsewhere in the shipping chain.
  • Adjust priorities: Adjust priorities quickly in response to frequently changing circumstances. Continually assess tasks and respond to those requiring extra attention. Foresee and seek to avoid crisis management.
  • Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
  • Work in a water transport team: Work confidently in a group in water transport services, in which each individual operates in their own area of responsibility to reach a common goal, such as a good customer interaction, maritime safety, and ship maintenance.
  • Use Microsoft Office: Possess the ability to work with the standard programs contained in Microsoft Office at a capable level. Create a document and do basic formatting, insert page breaks, create headers or footers, and insert graphics, create automatically generated tables of contents and merge form letters from a database of addresses (usually in Excel). Create auto-calculating spreadsheets, create images, and sort and filter data tables.

ISCO group and title

4323 – Transport clerks

  1. Vessel operations coordinator – ESCO
Last updated on December 7, 2022

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