Call to improve seafarer training
The shipping industry should establish schools with a standardised curriculum throughout the world to train seafarers, a ship manager says.
Wallem Shipmanagement managing director Aswin Atre said shipping accidents were costly to shipowners, managers, shippers, big charterers and environmentalists.
'We don't have enough training institutions and even if we get 200 people tomorrow, there are no facilities in the region to provide them with the necessary training,' he said.
Wallem Shipmanagement provides full management for 102 vessels, including 15 from Hong Kong.
Mr Atre said China was the only country making training a priority.
In China, universities such as Dalian and Qingdao were well equipped, he said.
While India was a good source for seafarers, the country lacked funds to expand its facilities, Mr Atre said.
Shipping was becoming more international and the need to get professionals to run ships was increasing, he said.
Mr Atre said the International Maritime Organisation's Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) had recently come into effect and the International Safety Management Code would become mandatory next year.
Mr Atre said the STCW was adequate only if the crew was properly trained and knew their ship.
Regarding port state control, Mr Atre said it was sad that ship managers and shipowners needed outsiders to remind them of things they should already know.
'I find it unnecessary policing and the industry has brought it upon itself by taking shortcuts,' he said.
Mr Atre said he did not advocate repealing existing measures but wished the industry would address important issues, including proper training and a standardised curriculum.
'If one more accident were to happen, the only way governments and the public will react is to increase the rules,' Mr Atre said.
Mr Atre said Wallem was writing its own manuals for specific ships and ranks of seafarers in order to meet STCW regulations.
He said the STCW was correct in taking into account the stress and fatigue of seafarers and that there was a need to increase skilled manpower.
Wallem had always trained its staff and had helped them to improve their knowledge, he said.
Wallem has an institute in Bombay for retraining staff who have gone on leave.
Mr Atre said it was important to put employees through refresher courses as they tended to forget what they had learned after a three to four-month holiday.