Most Maritime Authorities, Training Providers and Seafarers are familiar with the term HELM, for those that are not; it is the new Human Element, Leadership and Management course that becomes mandatory for certification under the STCW Convention, incorporating the Manila Amendments.


HELM focuses on human interaction towards each other as well as to their perceived environment in different contexts. The MCA in its “Human Element -a Guide to Human Behaviour in the Shipping Industry”discuss to the following aspects of human nature that affect behaviour:

  1. People actively make sense of things
  2. People take risks
  3. People make decisions
  4. People communicate with each other


  1. People get tired and stressed
  2. People learn and develop
  3. People work with each other
  4. People make mistakes


It is vitally important that the interaction and connection between these aspects are clearly understood, and in some instances addressed, if we were to eradicate shipping disasters caused by the ‘human element’.

“The Map is Not the Territory” –

This is probably the underlying belief on which NLP was founded.

Now you may find yourself asking what is NLP…
and what does it mean to anchor it in HELM?

Anchoring NLP in HELM

NLP World’s Terry Elston defines Neuro-Linguistic Programming as the study of excellence. It describes how our thinking produces our behaviour and allows us to model excellence, and to reproduce that behaviour.

It is human nature to use all our senses, as well as memories of past experiences, and emotional states when making an internal representation of an external event –this leads thereto that our internally generated representation of an event may be very far from the event itself in reality as we delete, distort and generalise the information we process.

We seem to have ‘pre-programmed’ ourselves through language and non-verbal communication, to behave in a certain way following the ‘coding’ our nervous system have given our experiences and its representation – this can lead to a somewhat disastrous outcome if we are continually ending in a negative state of mind…

The good news is that we are able through the mastering of NLP Techniques to get to dry dock,clear the hull of marine growth, overhaul the mind’s engine and rewire our vessel for better performance.

Anchoring in NLP refers to the process of (re-)wiring our response to a certain stimulus in such a way that the perception of the stimulus will in turn lead by reflex to the anchored, i.e. desired response occurring.

“Respect for the other person’s model of the world”
“People are not their behaviours”

– Terry Elston-

SAMSA advised in MN 20 of 2016 that sufficient elements are currently embedded within existing training courses to address the requirements of HELM Training. Candidates having started training after 1.1.2012 will be considered as having met the HELM training requirement.

Both deck and engineering holders of Certificates of Competency will attain recognition of prior learning and as such, there is no need to attend a HELM course.

Should you feel the need for additional hands on deck during dry dock, as you navigate your way around the wirings of Human Element, Leadership and Management, 1-on-1 Neuro-Linguistic Programming sessions offer insight and learning opportunities to understand and address, amongst others, the following processes

  • Goal-setting
  • Effective Communication
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Setting Empowering Beliefs
  • Building Rapport
  • Negotiation skills
  • Anchoring
  • Strategies
    • Meeting Conduct
    • Learning

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