The Viva (Oral Examination) goes online!

Will the integration of information technology be further accelerated, and online Viva’s will eventually become an integral component of competency exams?

In recent times, with distressing news all around us and the darkness of fear on everyone’s mind due to the global pandemic, a light of hope embodied me with the most significant achievement of my life.

I have been an aspirant of the MEO Class 1 Examination since last year, but due to COVID-19, the Mercantile Marine Department had to announce the cancellation of all MEO examinations indefinitely.

Since I had cleared my written exam, I was left with no choice, but to wait for my Viva. Lockdowns led me to form a study group where we would have discussions over the phone, which, in a way, motivated me to put in maximum focus and hard work in completing my syllabus. However, despite my continuous efforts, there was no news from MMD about the exam dates.

On the other hand, I had also been down for more than a year. I was looking forward to going back to the high seas to help relieve my fellow seafarer, who had been serving extended tours of duty, due to the pandemic related travel restrictions.

The visionary leadership of our CEO, Capt. Rajesh Unni meant that Synergy was leading the way in conducting safe crew changeovers all across the world. The hard work and the intense level of coordination and back-end preparation by the Synergy shore staff meant that we were flown to Japan on a chartered flight and signed on our vessel the ‘Pusaka Java’, without the slightest of hassle!

A few days later, I heard about MMD’s announcement of conducting the oral examination online for those who had cleared their written exams.

It was nerve-wracking even to imagine attempting the Viva amidst my responsibilities on board, but after speaking to C/E Sai Kishore, who encouraged me not to lose the opportunity and try and give my best.

Capt. Sagar, who is in command of the ‘Pusaka Java’, continuously motivated me and assured that a lack of internet data would never come in the way of my clearing the elusive Viva.

Also, a big thank you to C/O Vijay who helped me fix technical issues on the day of my exam, so there were no disturbances. While we were at anchorage in China, due to the good internet connectivity, I was able to attempt and complete my examination which lasted 45 minutes before, I finally heard the golden words – ‘YOU PASSED’, and much to my surprise the entire team was outside my cabin, waiting to congratulate me!

This moment was overly emotional for me as it was the culmination of all the hard work and effort that I put in over the years, with the support of my family and the Synergy team to reach this level in my career.

I am very thankful to the Director-General of Shipping for proactively adapting to the current situation and conducting such virtual Viva’s to make sure seafarers do not miss out on the opportunity of attempting their examination and eventually progress in their careers.

COVID-19 has brought in the ‘New Normal’, at least for the time being!

– 2/E Nishant Verma