April, 2010 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

Every maritime nation, needs to look into the rightful welfare of their “seafarers with qualified and competent performance” unlike the just traditional seafarers, who are working out on the deep seas, leading a professional life of risks and sacrifices with occupational hazards, serving far away from their near and dear ones. There inability to get together and voice their genuine- grievances, should not be heartlessly neglected by way of exploitation.

“The media shouldn`t be a spectator to the true happenings of crime and injustice nor play the role of a mere messenger in reporting without verifying the real facts…….Dr.Chandran Peechulli, “MarineWaves”

“Satisfaction of one`s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life”…….Dr. Linus Pauling

Common-man fails to get justice, because of inefficiency or corruption of prosecuting agencies. “Always aim at complete harmony of thought, word and deed by purifying one`s thoughts and everything will go well.”…….R. Venkatakrishnan, “Marine Waves”.

International Shipping governed by several conventions, needs to be efficiently regulated and monitored by IMO an UN agency, instead of resting with the respective national maritime administrations, by developing a sound monitoring mechanism, with a concern for enforcement of good practices and its timely proper implementation. Where safety is concerned, the establishments of adequate port state control systems, with requisite power to the port state to detain a vessel, if it is found to have serious defects upon inspection. This way, the port state and flag state combine efforts to maintain good control over the safety of international ships. Adopt good international practices with in-depth understanding of maritime legal-requirements and strategic business-solutions knowledge on the industry`s expectations. Maritime Regulators and Experts to interact clearly, keeping abreast of the latest updates, on the various international and regional shipping and maritime regulations and keep marching ahead. .

SAILOR represents:- `S` the foremost for service-oriented, `A` ability and attitude. `I` Integrity and Intelligence, `L` Loyalty, `O` for Obedience which instills discipline and `R` for Regularity. Recognise this important asset (Sailors), which keeps the world trade alive. Make training relevant and effective. Impart appropriate training to the needs of the shipping industry, with skills training and regulations of the best industrial practice. Here, we don`t need people (Seafarers) onboard vessel as sleeping passengers but for trained and will to work, viewing squeezed manning and limited resources onboard.

The secret of life is not enjoyment, but education through experience…….Swami Vivekananda.

The new breed of seafarers turning-out from Maritime Colleges/Institutions/Academies be the change, we wanted to see in this world, rather than from the old timers turned-out only through set paper exams. Such of those empty vessels make loud noise of in-competency, waiving off the mandatory STCW courses, for themselves. While those better qualified and experienced sailing officers were forced upon to attend, not valuing their quantity and quality of time spent during their hard-earned leave ashore. The System needs to be revamped as a whole and made more transparent and accountable.

Coastal/Domestic Shipping: managing local vessels of various applications as against foreign-going, vary in the rules and regulations, towards governance mechanism; same need not be blindly followed unless where needed, considering in-depth study and understanding of maritime legal requirements and strategic business knowledge on industry`s expectations, rather than adopting economically and socially viable, good maritime practices of the required quality for development, implementation and monitoring at national level. National Shipping Administrations to seriously view prioritising the safety of domestic ferries and non-conventional vessels, viewing reported annual casualties, in consideration of functional and critical requirements ensuring that “only safe ships sail” realistically-practical, not but for documentation purpose only. Implementation of the Safety Regulations for Non-Convention Vessels and use of `Instructions to Surveyors`-a set of guidelines for surveys of vessels. Strong support need to be expressed, for an expansion of the maritime safety audit system that would ensure series of safety audits and inspections on all domestic ships with in the region towards “Safe Ship Management” (SSM) system as practiced by other maritime nations. SSM in shipping companies is expected to refine the systems and processes for dealing with safety as prime concern enabling monitoring of implementation-measures through safety audits, upgrading systems etc.

It`s high Time, The National Maritime Administrations and the I.M.O. , the UN Agency, be more open, towards transparency and commitment with responsibility, for greater transparency. Open registries are a business, and IMO fees are a business overhead for the states they serve. If flags set up business, they should ensure that they pay their way, in the same way as any other enterprise. Though, the bill is footed on proportional basis, with an element related to ability to pay, the current system by which it is levied is supposedly fair. Yet the IMO is not entirely blameless in all this. Frankly, the lack of financial transparency at the only UK-based UN agency is little short of shocking, while every company, charity, local authority, political party and trade union in Britain must by law file a full set of audited accounts each year. Most table tennis clubs, amateur dramatic societies and the like choose to do so, even though it is not a legal requirement. In this respect, the IMO persists in exemplifying the veil of secrecy that remains the unacceptable face of the modern shipping industry, routinely refusing legitimate requests for information asked by the media.

PIRACY: In the 21-st century we still talk about piracy. It`s inconceivable. It is pertinent that something needs to be done urgently but when calls for collective action, there is almost an audible shuffling of concerned parties averting their gaze and not wanting to engage. The debate over how to handle piracy is as much about means as anything else. The complexity and inconvenience of prosecuting pirates in jurisdictions of a ship`s register was avoided by assigning the role of prosecutor to Kenya, which is at least in the vicinity of the area in the Indian Ocean where many of the attacks occur. Kenya is also a signatory of Djibouti code of conduct. The code, signed by 13 states surrounding the east African hotspot, provides for sharing piracy information through dedicated centers to be established in Mombasa in Kenya, Sana`a in Yemen and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Saudi Arabia strengthened the code last week by becoming a signatory during an official visit to the International Maritime Organization. Finally, the collective will seems to be meshing. Kenya stoutly answered back to criticism that its court system and jails are unable to support the prosecutions and of late, a Kenyan court sentenced eight Somalis to 20 years in prison for piracy. The presiding judge said that only stiff penalties would send a deterrent message. In Kenya, there are some 117 alleged pirates being prosecuted. Four of these cases, involving several defendants each, are expected to be completed in the coming weeks. The pick-up in momentum seems to have stemmed from a combination of significant international funding and witness support from governments and navies. Kenya has a backlog of 500,000 criminal cases but the piracy cases are being fast-tracked, probably with a little international pressure mixed with support. Kenya`s court system is more robust than predicted is good news for shipping. A further step would be to see greater direct involvement from all the signatories of the Djibouti Code.

The Saudi-signing furthers this possibility. It effectively commits Saudi Arabia to establishing laws and criminalizing piracy, but also to ensuring “adequate provisions for the exercise of jurisdiction, conduct of investigations and prosecution of alleged offenders”, according to a Saudi release. The entry of such a power and influential regional state can only give the code greater clout. Too little and too late. Actually it is not piracy, its terrorism. Hijacking a plane is terrorism, but hijacking a ship is considered piracy and treated as a petty crime. In addition, we hide behind Kenya, pushing others to solve our problems (removing the chestnuts from the fire with someone else`s hand). This is what makes a country – Britain – great; not the title-name but Transparency, Impartiality, Fairness, Ethos and Unbiased Institutions.

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

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