Participants in The Bahamas Maritime Authority’s Cadet Corps Program visited the Bradford Marine facility yesterday for a practical application on what they have studied on the maritime industry.
Program instructor Clayton Curtis, said that with the increased interest from students in the program, it was important for them to see how the industry functions and the hard work it entails.
He explained that the purpose of the program is to expose high school students to various aspects of the shipping industry, underscoring the importance of shipping to The Bahamas.
“Being a maritime nation, we are archipelagic and The Bahamas has the third highest ship registration in the world. The country is strategically located on the cross roads linking east, west, north and south so shipping is very important to us,” Curtis said.
“The visit here at Bradford marine gives the cadets an opportunity to have a practical application to some of the theoretical information that I cover with them in the classroom, including areas in ship construction, seamanship navigation, first aid and firefighting.”
During the first year of the Maritime Cadet Program on the island, Curtis said that he had 12 students followed by 30 students the second year and this year in excess of 70 students.
“We have had an explosion of persons interested and this year because we only have two instructors, we had to turn away some students but the interest is definitely there and we hope that we can show the students how valuable maritime really is and expose them to training and various career opportunities.”
He noted that the industry is “virgin territory” and Bahamians, for some reason, are uncomfortable with the water and are unable to swim.
“Many of us do not see shipping as a viable career but those ships that are registered under the Bahamian flag need to be manned and staffed, so there are hundreds of shipping jobs out there if Bahamians want to leave home, work, see the world and get paid for it.”
General Manager for Bradford Marine Dan Romance presented the cadets with navigational tools and equipment for them to use during the course of their studies.
He said that he is in support of the program because it is an excellent opportunity for students to be a part of an industry which has such a tremendous impact on The Bahamas.
“We want to create an awareness of careers and the economic impact that marine related business have and the opportunities that are out there. We have cadets working with us and we have to make sure that we support them to keep the future bright.”
Yacht Broker, Mike Stafford said that there is a tremendous opportunity for young people coming out of school who are properly educated to become inducted into the industry and have a life long rewarding career.
During the Maritime Conference this year Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Efthimios Mitropoulos noted that the maritime industry may be in jeopardy if more seafarers are not recruited worldwide.
Mitropoulos said that by 2011 the navy officials will be short 40,000 seafarers and by 2013, 53,000.
“We may end up having beautiful ships, build in accordance with IMO for safety and environmental protection but we won’t have the people to man them. The shipping trade will suffer and the world economy will suffer so we have to act promptly to bring in the young people, fresh bloods to the maritime profession.”
To this end, Mitropoulos said that the IMO has launched a “Go to Sea” campaign to bring to the attention of young people, of the right calibre, that shipping and seafearing is a first-class career choice.
“Seafaring is a rewarding and stimulating profession. Seafarers are well paid. They can have long periods of rest. They have the opportunity to improve their career and climb the steps in a very short period of time and to be given the opportunity of great responsibility to command ships at a relatively young age,” he said.
“They also have the opportunity at a young age to leave the maritime profession and do something really interesting in the number of core related professions. So all of the prospects of a good career are there for those who decide to make shipping their career choice.”