February, 2005 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

The bureaucrats in the National Maritime Administration, needs to be properly backed up with better qualified dedicated marine professionals, keeping to the times, as there is ample scope to bring about a sea-change to the happenings out at sea the poor administration reflects over its limitation, causing inability for UPSC to pick up the best qualified, dedicated marine professionals into Shipping. Supremacy needs to be exhibited by one`s action and attitude and not by harassing those who call at them.

I recall Electrical officers (Non-I.N.) who takes the help of the (ratings)crew, for writing even a simple leave application, are still floating officers, without the need of a competency certificate of the Directorate, no hassles with MMD , but enjoys status of a full fledged officer onboard.While these days, it is deemed necessary for a seaman to obtain a Certificate of Competency as a Rating, forming a part of the Navigational Watch. The new breed of seamen (qualified) after adequate years of sea experience, on appearing for Orals are failed, come out from MMD grumbling, saying `failed` on account of the Surveyor`s mood was bad. Its unfair.

They need to know,what is expected of them, rather than face uncertainties. Could the learned Surveyor, brief the prospective seamen on their filing papers for the orals, towards transparency. The outstation members,calling in MMD for orals, incurring boarding and lodging being away from family, as out at sea. Calls for attitudinal changes.

Its wrong for the shore-based mariners to compare their past earnings nor with the active seafarers wages at sea (occupational hazards at sea , living with all constraints of limited resources more particularly away from their close and near dear ones)while its out of greed they compare, after securing a place in the nation`s shore-based salary of the government /private department and find ways to earn more money, giving room for corruption. The need for a Maritime Watchdog for Operational Audit in Shipping, more particularly to crack-down the middlemen`s role, supporting and strengthening corruption. This area is very less studied to eliminate loopholes and produce better results. Only then significant results of global standards will emerge. Our Merchant fleet needs to be manned only by those who are physically and mentally strong. This is a place for the tough guys to meet the hard life, out in the deep rough seas and not a place for sympathetic consideration of the handicapped or for the minority community for reservations. Emergency response decisions out at sea in particular, with all limitations and constraints, calls for”pragmatic and quick decisions” to put life back on the rails. Alertness, activeness and smartness with timely presence of mind to achieve, answers the internal security onboard from piracy and external threats. Owing to increased mandatory courses for study and the preparatory courses for promotional examinations, made seafarers busy ashore while on their hard earned leave, restricting them from being with their family, followed by tremendous work pressure while onboard, due to quick turnaround, reduced manning with increased work-load causing increased fatigue and stress. If one falls sick, the workload has to be shared within this squeezed manning onboard. Restrictions to shore leave and genuine medical needs to see doctor, causes discord amongst the ship-staff onboard. The Navigating Officers and the Marine Engineers have a multi-disciplinary role while onboard, equipping themselves with technical, managerial, social and ethical awareness.The supervising senior officers onboard gets sandwiched between the working subordinates and the shore-based management. Imperative to expose this, one can therefore imagine the amount of mental stress caused besides the physical fatigue. The recent murder incident, three miles off Brixham of the 34-year-old Filipino Master (Capt.) onboard on a 250m long crude carrier, 100,000 tonne tanker”Overseas Josef a Camejo” being stabbed to death by a crew member, the instinct of his mind to do that, should cause concern to the shipping industry as a whole. It`s a lesson to the Senior Officers onboard of a vessel not to provoke or cause unwanted pressure to subordinates who are under terrible stress, not to hurt their sentiments badly, applying cheap tactics. A realistic study could be made, calling for opinion/suggestions from the active Seafarers working with Indian / Foreign Shipping Companies, Management of Shipping Companies, Senior Marine professionals (sailing and non-sailing), Associated Organisations/Associations/Unions/Social Activists and all those interested etc. Positive Inter-actions will arrive at a consensus, towards pursuit to excellence in Shipping. Merchant Navy is the nations second line of defence as well, which should be borne in mind, for maintaining a strong young team with sustenance of a sound mind and a strong body, which primarily answers the internal security onboard from piracy and external threats. The need for the nation`s Regional Coast-Guard, to have the manning list of ship`s crew of the incoming and outgoing vessels from port, for national security. challenges. The subject of internal security onboard the vessels will then be addressed by the really competent personnel with courage, confidence and determination, in achieving the goal more efficiently.

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

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