Meet Marienus Hazelman – Navigation Officer
Marienus has a name most appropriate for his station in life. Marienus is the third navigation officer onboard the Statendam and as such he spends most of his time working on the bridge. Marienus is responsible for helping to prepare the charts that are used to guide the Statendam in all of those interesting destinations to which she sails.
“I grew up on Fiji,” Marienus told me, “and did my maritime training in New Zealand after earning a scholarship to Maritime School there. Then I went to work for the cargo companies, working my way up the ranks. Training is an ongoing process, and deck officers are promoted as their skills increase. Sometimes you can even return to the maritime academy to earn additional “tickets.” These tickets certify you to assume progressively higher levels of responsibility on the ship, with the goal being your Masters ticket. That one would qualify you to perform the duties of a ship’s captain. At least two people on every vessel hold a given ticket, so that – for example – if the captain were to become incapacitated for any reason, there would always be at least one other officer who could step in for him. I have yet to qualify for my Masters ticket, but I plan to one day.”
In 2007 Marienus came to work for Holland America. He served on the Noordam until December, after which he assumed his current position on the Statendam.
“My current position is very interesting,” he told me. As a navigation officer, I do watches of four hours each. Then I do about two hours of administrative work. During this administrative time, I am involved in preparing the ship’s navigation charts, which are always done by hand, on paper charts. We mark out the route for any given sailing, based on the itinerary information provided to us by the home office. We use electronic charts to make sure our paper ones contain the most up-to-date information regarding things such as undersea shoals, reefs, shallow areas, and other potential hazards beneath the surface of the water. We also use radar to update our information on a constant basis. This way we always have the most current data on our paper charts, which we pencil in to delineate the changes.”
Marienus also told me that charts are shared between various ships in the fleet. “We will take our completed charts from this cruise and pass them along to the next ship that will be doing it; for example, the Ryndam in January. Another ship may pass along their completed charts for a voyage we may be scheduled to do. By sharing our charts in this way, each ship in the fleet can benefit from the experience of those who have sailed the route in the recent past.”
Marienus also told me that visual bearings are constantly being taken by the officer on watch anytime the Statendam is at sea. Position readings are taken as often as every three minutes. Radar is also constantly checked to keep track of any other ships that may be in the area.
I asked Marienus if he and the other navigation officers onboard had any input into overall itinerary planning. “Not usually. That’s all done by the home office in Seattle. The itineraries are planned a year or more in advance, and the information is forwarded to us. We then plan the navigational details for the sailings we will do. For example, we are now busily at work on the charts for the Statendam’s next cruise departing San Diego on October 25th. Of course, though, our input and suggestions regarding specific itineraries is always welcomed.”
In addition to his actual chart planning duties, it is sometimes Marienus’ voice that we hear in the daily “Voice from the Bridge” reports we get onboard at around noon each day. In these reports, he provides us with a daily update as to our position and the weather forecast. Marienus is also involved in preparing the navigational information that is printed in our Daily Programs.
It takes a lot of people to safely man a ship the size of the Statendam. Supporting the Captain and the senior officers are the deck department. “The deck officers are the ones charged with actual ship operations,” Marienus told me. “We usually have two second officers, two third officers, and two fourth officers. In addition, we also have two deck and two engine cadets onboard as well. Each deck officer progresses up in level as he gains more experience and earns promotions,” Marienus added.
“Deck officers work on the bridge in shifts,” Marienus explained. “Cadets are similar to ‘interns’ in industry. They join us for short periods of time during which they observe ship operations and get some hands-on training under the watchful eye of the officer on duty. Then they return to their classrooms at the Maritime Academy to complete their formal schooling and earn their “ticket.” But while they are onboard the ship as cadets, they can only work under close supervision since they have not been awarded their proper certifications.”
Marienus discussed the importance of the work deck officers perform. “It’s a demanding job,” he told me, “and there’s a lot of components to it; a lot of skills that have to be learned and mastered. To get through maritime school, you have to be really strong in science and math. It’s a tough course of study – tougher than most, requiring a strong degree of diligence as a student.
“The sad fact is that the maritime academies are not graduating as many deck officers these days as they are engine room ones, and that’s going to one day lead to a major shortage. A career as a deck officer is not particularly attractive to young people today simply because it’s a lot of work to gain the skills, and then there’s little that can be done with them other than working on a ship. Engine room personnel have much more flexibility since they can far more easily parlay their skills into a variety of other industries as well.”
When I asked Marienus what goals he has for the future, he said that one thing he would like to do is get some more schooling so that he can earn his Masters ticket. Such a certification, while not guaranteeing an instant promotion to Captain, would qualify him for such a job should one become available. “I’d also be qualified to step in and perform the duties of a ship’s captain if the need ever arose,” he told me, “on either a temporary or permanent basis.”
Marienus also said that he was quite happy with his career with Holland America. “I worked on cargo ships for a while, but I always wanted to work on passenger ships. Passenger ships present far greater challenges, plus there’s a lot more going on – which makes the job more interesting. I was glad to be hired by Holland America because it’s known throughout the industry as a great company to work for. They are probably the most family-oriented one out there, and they are great with their promotion policies. As for my future, I’d like to think I’ll still be right here, working on one of HAL’s ships.