Manager urges government to play bigger role
Governments and port states must co-operate in regulation and operation of vital shore-based services, besides establishing uniform standards and procedures for inspecting vessels, a ship management executive says.
Giorgio Sulser, chief executive of Acomarit Services Maritimes, said the authorities also should co-operate in charting passage channels and tides to meet the demands of huge vessels for proper and adequate reception facilities.
'None of this is in place despite a large number of serious accidents in the United States, in particular, involving pilots and a string of government inquiries,' Mr Sulser told the Intertanko 25th anniversary conference.
The pursuit of better facilities and standards of training and certification should be by all governments and not just by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), he said.
'Cadet berths on ships have been falling over the years. Many governments appear unwilling or unready to invest in training schools,' Mr Sulser said.
He said his company had invested heavily in recruitment and training of seamen despite low charter rates.
On the regulatory environment, Mr Sulser said the International Safety Management (ISM) Code would become mandatory for certain types of vessels as part of SOLAS (IMO's International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974) from July 1998.
He said quality owners and managers had been practising the code for many years, including IMO's International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
'We now are afraid that many flag administrations are moving so slowly, and the rate of vessel compliance is so low, that the integrity of the code may be compromised,' Mr Sulser said.
He applauded a move by the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) for producing guidelines for ISM code auditors, which were being presented to the IMO this month.
On the STCW Convention, which will come into force next year, Mr Sulser said flag states should tackle the issue of how certificates of competency could be issued to third mates, second engineers or masters of coastal vessels, as they presently did not exist.
He warned that there would be chaos and confusion if the issue was not addressed.
The governments of India and China, anxious to supply seamen to the world's fleet, must consider investments in training and audit facilities urgently.
Investments in this area could not be left solely to large ship managers and owners, Mr Sulser said.
'Regulation in today's world also means public information,' he said, adding that the issue was not 'what we say but how we say it - and how quickly'.
He emphasised that what was necessary was the presentation of all the facts.
Mr Sulser said changes made during the 25 years of Intertanko had been paid for by independent shipowners and managers.
'Others must now be made to take their share of responsibility and cost,' he said.