April, 2009 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

“The willingness to accept responsibility for one`s own life, Is the source, from which self-respect springs”

Much said on the crisis in manning of ships, by varied speakers and writers, while foreseeing acute shortage of seafarers, more particularly of officers to man Indian registered vessels, views expressed to remedy the shortage by concerned authorities. Hence, the exodus of Indian seafarers, with employability on foreign flag ships, is a big question? a group functions for ” Distraction from reality” to public minds: TRUTH SHALL ALWAYS PREVAIL.

The recently conducted National Maritime Day celebration had a special theme viz. “Crisis in Manning of Indian Ships”. While, I was the Chief Guest in one of the leading engineering college, during the national maritime day 2009 programme, which was in the suburbs of the metropolitan city of Chennai, an opportunity given to interact with the smart and intellect marine engineering students. They had exhibited high standard of ceremonial parade followed by mass PT and Drill which indicates to a great degree, the efficiency of the unit`s discipline. My advice to them was to build-up, reasonably good foresight to plan and execute well. Keep them physically and mentally fit at all times, to meet eventualities efficiently. Be alert and active while on duty, being duty-conscious. Gain greater knowledge on moving overseas, meeting people of the world, of varied culture, different walks of life etc. Maintain the code of model conduct and professional ethics, carry the good image of the country. It is observed that various events tried to look at the issue from different perspectives. A distinguished gathering of the marine fraternity, witnessed the inter-actions and discussions. It was addressed by many a speaker that there is going to be an acute shortage of Indian officers, to man foreign-going vessels. It was also strongly suggested that something needs to be done, to remedy the shortage, by the concerned authorities of our national maritime administration.

“Piracy and Criminalization-threats, to Seafaring Profession.” Dr Misra, Principal Officer, MMD, Chennai, had said of piracy attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Aden and other parts of the world and the criminal proceedings, like in the issue involving two Indian officers at the Korean coast, are posing a threat. During such period of unrest amongst the seafarers, how do the shore-based mariners e.g. Chennai port pilots encouraged, for hikes in their salary particularly comparing the wages of the active seafarers out at sea, living and working with extreme risks and sacrifices? Service conditions ashore are totally different from active seafarers living & working at sea.

National maritime administration (DGS), should consider inducting suitable Ratings into the officer- stream, to reduce shortage. This is certainly possible, as we find many qualified men in the ratings, owing to squeezed, close range of qualification and age, at the entry level. Such openings would encourage and motivate them who are otherwise qualified. The easiest and assured mode, would be to induct (retired) naval officers to meet shortage of officers in the Indian fleet with the relevant short-term courses followed by an oral test. Naval officers, are generally found physically and mentally fit, to be inducted into the mercantile marine service, best employed after grooming them into the commercial arena for productivity, in the merchant navy. A prima facie analysis also reveals that there is no realistic stringent check on Indian vessels. Which in result, such vessels are detained overseas, giving a poor image of our nation owned vessels. These vessels are generally ill-maintained, owing to maintenance of deck and engine machineries generally not carried out, but for documentation purpose only, besides the crew is strong in their parent company and wanted liberal shore-leave, home-port rights, liberal medical attendance etc. Hence, Instill ” WORK IS WORSHIP, into their minds”, situation is bound to improve. Hence, service conditions vary within the coastal shipping and foreign shipping companies. View with a broader perspective angle, to accept the real facts.

Given the above scenario, there appears to be no such `crisis` but for created situations, time alone shall tell with regard to the future of manning of our vessels.

FOCUS on realities and make a realistic approach to assessment and evaluation, on supply & demand .oEXAMINE and implement innovative manpower solutions & training techniques, for quality and safety-culture, minimize human risks onboard. Seek feedback from seafarers`, for their views & suggestions. Motivate, encourage, retaining quality crew onboard.

*Enterprising senior officers have a shorter life at sea than previously. It`s not uncommon for Indian masters and chief engineers in their thirties to have a couple of trips under their belt and have ambitions to do something different. “Those who remain at sea are earning more and can retire relatively young – and in the meantime, the supply and demand factor has created a situation where they can jump from company to company. Being awakened, of seafarers ashore earning attractive wages, the natural instinct would be to move from sea to shore jobs. The Indian financial crisis may have helped to keep the wage increases of other shore-based in check, but it has not, in the case of shore-based mariners group, since they can get-together and make tall claims, unlike active seafarers inability together.

Viewing the situation of piracy and armed robbery, against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. Fear Psychosis built amongst the seafarers following the IMO`s “Go to Sea!” campaign, launched in November 2008 to attract entrants to the shipping industry (Ref. IMO Briefing 53/2008); “There is no substitute without the required right competence” and mental make-up. Hence, the shortage of seafarers was the biggest issue for shipping and agreed to intensify their efforts in support of this worthy cause; the Round Table was in the process of finalizing a strategic document on industry action to attract, train/educate and retain seafarers;

It was agreed that industry should continue its efforts to ensure the provision of berths for cadets so as to enable them to undertake on-the-job training and build up sea-going experience; encouraged States to ratify expeditiously the consolidated Maritime Labour Convention, adopted by the International Labour Organization in 2006, with a view to ensuring its earliest possible entry into force; expressed concern over the continued and unjustified criminalization of seafarers; denounced the unwarranted denial of shore-leave to seafarers; and endorsed three objectives associated with the “Go to Sea!” campaign, namely, to achieve:

For an enhanced, more favorable public perception of the maritime industry, in line with its excellent health, safety and environmental record, and vital role as the carrier of world trade; programme to widely publicise, greater knowledge among young people of opportunities offered by a career at sea; and a marked shift in the quality of life at sea by bringing it more closely in line with that available ashore.

Let`s pledge to work with transparency, commitment and dedication, as a responsible citizen of the country, for a fair play in the maritime world.

Dr. Chandran Peechulli,
Ex.Chief Engineer(Marine), G.M.(Tech) Crossworld Shipping.
Managing Editor & Publisher-“MARINE WAVES” International Maritime Newsletter.

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