Tag Archives: manning

SHIPPING | ASF voices concern on shortage of seafarers

MANILA, Philippines – The seafarers’ committee of the Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF) has expressed concern on the shortage of seafarers, particularly in the massive orders of new building ships.

In response, many of the member associations of the ASF have been taking urgent action to recruit, train, and retain seafarers.

The committee, however, recognized that it takes time to train seafarers and expressed concern about the consequences of too rapid promotion of seafarers through the ranks, and urges ship owners and managers to consider implementing a stringent process of post-qualification seatime and proper appraisal before promotion.

The committee also expressed strong concern at the continuing trend of piracy attacks on merchant ships and the apparent inability of the world’s navies to protect ships passing through the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean.

There were also rising concerns about the increased number of attacks in the South China Sea.

The situation has become a serious crisis, one that deeply affects the mental health of the seafarers and their families and the carriage of world trade.

While the ASF is grateful for the protection of the naval forces deployed in and around the Gulf, the United Nations and the IMO must exercise greater efforts to protect ships and their crews when transiting pirate infested and treacherous waters.

The ASF committee expressed serious concern at a proposal by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to unilaterally attempt to determine crew costs of national flag vessels, which would violate national policies.

The determination of seafarer wages is a matter of negotiation between the shipowner and seafarer, the ASF said.

The ASF committee has reiterated its position that the employment conditions of seafarers should be consistent with the current market, economic and living situation of each country or region where the seafarers are domiciled.

Source: Manila Bulletin, 2010.11.22



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USA | Ship captain gets 14 days in prison for onboard drunkenness


The "STX Daisy"


Carly Flandro | Seattle Times | 2010.10.25

A Korean man was sentenced to 14 days in prison in Tacoma Monday for being drunk while commanding a 590-foot vessel in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Seong Ug Sin, the captain of the STX Daisy, was arrested April 14 after a Coast Guard inspection crew searched the ship and found that Sin and another officer had consumed “significant quantities of Korean whiskey,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The captain was given a breath test, which showed his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit for being in command of a vessel, the news release said.

The government asked for a strict sentence, noting the “potential for disaster with a drunk captain aboard” a 20,736 gross ton freighter.

The ship’s intended journey was through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and south through Puget Sound to Olympia, according to the news release. It would have covered 205 miles and gone through many areas of high commercial-shipping and recreational-boating activity. The ship was carrying large quantities of fuel oil, which, had there been an accident, could have posed a risk to the marine environment.

“In the interest of public safety, a strong sentence is warranted to deter future mariners from following in this defendant’s wake,” the sentencing memo from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

After he serves his 14 days, the captain will be under supervised release for six months. During that time, he is forbidden to sail in United States waters.

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SHIPPING | Maersk fined for breach of international regulations



Maersk Patras (IMO 9168221) -- amsterdamhaven.web-log.nl



Fred Caygill | Maritime and Coastguard Agency (UK) | 2010.10.25

At a hearing today in Newcastle Magistrates Court, the Owners of the UK registered container ship Maersk Patras pleaded guilty to eight charges of failing to provide adequate hours of rest for the crew and one charge of failing to improve the situation.

In September 2009, the MCA conducted an audit on board the Maersk Patras at Bremerhaven. It was noticed that the Captain, Officers and other crew members had not been having the required periods of rest as laid down by international agreements.

The company, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S of Denmark, were informed of these concerns but failed to correct matters and the breaches of the regulations continued. On the 25th January 2010, the MCA issued the company with an Improvement Notice which required them to rectify the position by the 28th February 2010. They also failed to comply with that notice.

A.P.Moller-Maersk were fined £18,500 plus costs of £4,439.27

Neil Atkinson, Marine Surveyor, Maritime and Coastguard Agency said:

Fatigue is often a significant factor in accidents, whether it is to individuals or to the ship itself. For this reason the MCA are focusing on seafarers hours of rest during routine inspections of UK and foreign flag vessels. This conviction should send a strong message to the industry that failing to provide adequate hours of rest for the crew is not acceptable.

Graham Duff, prosecuting on behalf of the MCA said in court:

The hours of rest regulations are not just a bureaucratic exercise, they are all about safety.

It should go without saying that fatigue, particularly for decision makers on board large vessels, is a very real enemy and presents a significant risk to the safety of others.

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SHIPPING | Maritime cadets get first-hand exposure

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.”

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SHIPPING | Philippines in bid to stamp out illegal seafarer recruitment

Steve Matthews | Lloyd’s List | 2010.10.18

EFFORTS to end the recruitment of seafarers in Manila’s Luneta Park are intended to curtail illegal recruitment, provide better protection for seafarers and stop poaching from driving up wage rates for officers that are in short supply.

The Philippine government’s crackdown is having some impact and most of the leading crewing agencies in the country support the move.

However, the Philippines could make a substantially greater contribution to meeting the increased global demand for officers, but according to one leading crewing agency efforts are being hampered by a continued unwillingness of shipowners to sanction the necessary investments.

Opportunities to step up the numbers of Filipino officers are being wasted because potential graduates from maritime academies are being denied shipboard opportunities to meet sea time requirements.

In an effort to clean up recruitment at Luneta Park, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration stopped issuing the Special Recruitment Authority that is required for crewing agencies to set up booths to carry out recruitment there.

As existing SRAs and leases expire, recruitment booths rented out to agencies by the Luneta Seafarers’ Welfare Foundation are disappearing. This means that in effect there will no longer be any legal recruitment of seafarers in Luneta Park.

Agencies continuing to do so run the risk of having their licence suspended and incurring heavy fines. Leading crewing agencies have already largely ended recruiting there. Instead, officers looking for seagoing jobs must go to agencies’ offices, while agencies must use other ways of marketing their services and advertising jobs.

Miguel Angel Rocha, executive vice-president at CF Sharp Crew Management in Manila, told Lloyd’s List: “Both large and small owners are commonly poaching officers. I believe this development will slow the rise of wages and make poaching officers more difficult for shipowners. Sharp supports the POEA decision and we no longer recruit in Luneta Park.”

He suggested that some smaller agencies that had a difficult time attracting crew to their offices faced a greater challenge in trying to recruit officers and it would therefore be harder to engage in poaching and competitive increasing of wages.

“Ultimately, I believe this is a positive move for the industry at large and will keep wages in check in the long run.”

Recruitment of seafarers in Luneta Park has been taking place for many years. It became more formalised when Luswelf established its Seafarers’ Centre and crewing agents were permitted to set up booths. At one time there were about 120-130 licensed recruitment booths set up there.

That situation changed in June when the POEA announced that from July 1 it was ending authority to license recruitment booths and no new licences were being issued.

In addition, the new Migrant Workers’ Act significantly tightened up rules on recruitment to protect the rights of Filipinos working overseas, including seafarers.

By early October the number of recruitment booths in Luneta Park was down to about 60-70 and will continue to decline as licences expire.

According to the POEA, there were 421 licensed crewing agents in the Philippines at the beginning of October.

Gregorio Oca, president of the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines, told Lloyd’s List: “Since licensed manning agencies continue to operate, there should be no impact on the deployment of seafarers. What has changed is the manner of using the booths.”

He stressed that Amosup had no connection with Luswelf, but the union supported its efforts to develop Luneta Park to provide protection for seafarers.

“Amosup saw the need to set up tents and a seating area for the multitude of seafarers who traditionally congregate in that place. But it was Luswelf that constructed the booths to lease to manning agents,” said Capt Oca.

Agencies continuing to recruit in Luneta Park are not allowed to advertise using signage or to advertise wages. But some agencies are trying to get around the new regime by sending representatives to the park and meeting with potential recruits on an individual basis. If they are found doing so they are likely to face court action.

The larger crewing agents have sufficient resources to conduct recruitment using conventional means based in their Manila offices, many of which are close to Luneta Park.

Mr Rocha said that Sharp never recruited many officers at Luneta Park and most seafarers would go to the agency’s offices.

He said the increase in poaching officers and escalating wages — which reached its peak during the period of greatest shortages in 2007-2008, and could return as shipping markets recover and the fleet grows — is symptomatic of the lack of investment in developing Filipino officers by recruiting and training cadets. “But still no one is investing.”

This investment is the responsibility of owners. A common defence from owners for this deficiency is that if they invest, trainees will simply be poached by other owners. But this is a circular argument which ends up with overall inadequate investment and loss of opportunities for potential Filipino officers.

Some leading owners do invest in training Filipino cadets and directly in training facilities there. They try to retain them when they have qualified by offering attractive employment packages rather than short-term contracts, even if others offer higher wage levels in an effort to poach them.

According to figures from the POEA, there were 329,728 Filipino seafarers employed on board ships in 2009. However, a large majority of them were ratings and efforts to increase the supply of Filipino officers has had limited results. Only about 43,000, or 13%, of all Filipino seafarers were in junior officer ranks.

There are an estimated 100 maritime academies in the Philippines, with about 80,000-100,000 students. However, to qualify for seagoing certificates as officers, as well as needing to pass professional exams, they need to complete 12 months sea time.

According to Mr Rocha, less than 10% of these graduates currently complete the required sea time by the time they finish their courses. Of the remaining 90%, less than 10% never complete their sea time.

“This represents a huge waste of potential,” he said. As a result only about 1,000 Filipino cadets actually go to sea each year. “This is pretty pathetic,” he added.

The reason for this failure is that shipowners do not offer sufficient opportunities for Filipino cadets to go to sea or provide enough facilities on board their ships. The option of officer cadets signing up as ratings to gain their sea time is not a solution.

Efforts to encourage ratings to qualify as officers have had some effect, but it takes time and has not produced enough new officers to make significant inroads.

Mr Rocha said that if more owners sponsored Filipino cadets, up to 80% of the maritime academy graduates could obtain licences, allowing for some dropping out and failing exams. This would be more than sufficient to meet the global shortfall.

He said that Sharp had about 250 cadets at any one time spread over their four-year training period, equating to about 60-70 per year. “We have about 10,000 seafarers on board ships and we are fairly typical, which shows the scale of the problem. We are large enough to represent a microcosm of what is going on in the Philippines and our figures are representative of the overall situation.”

He added that some of Sharp’s client owners would like to crew ships fully with Filipino officers and ratings. Philippine shipping companies do not have enough capacity to provide these facilities so it must come from international owners.

Many owners still prefer to use eastern European officers and Filipino ratings and claim they do not have the resources to train Filipino cadets.

“But the problem will get worse and if they leave it too late the industry will have a big problem,” Mr Rocha said.

“The supply of officers from Europe will continue to fall and the industry will need to replace them from somewhere. It is hard to see how it will play out, but it will not be pretty. Too many owners are burying their heads in the sand and hope that they can continue to poach officers.”

During the recession the escalation of wage levels of Filipino officers slowed down and this has been aided by the changes in Luneta Park, but wage differentials between Filipino and eastern European officers have narrowed and the gap will continue to close.

“Filipino officers are no longer a bargain basement option, but the problem of recruiting officers is a global one,” Mr Rocha said.

“There is nowhere else for owners to go for officers other than the Philippines.”

He said that poaching could continue as a short-term fix for some owners and crewing agents, unless something changed. Ending recruitment at Luneta Park might ease the problem of poaching, but if owners commit the necessary investment to recruitment and training of cadets the need for such activities would recede.


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SAFETY | Norwegian shipmanager fined in the UK

Originally published in Tradewinds, 2010/09/24

Fraudulent paperwork, out-of-date maps and busting a one-way traffic system have landed a Norwegian shipmanager in hot water with UK authorities.

Th. Jacobsen Management was hit with two fines after entering three guilty pleas in a case which saw its previously-managed 2,568-dwt Sarah (built 1971) involved in “hazardous incidents” with a pair of ships two years ago.

The general cargoship, now named Ranyus, was collared at the port of Shoreham-by-Sea in October 2008 and clamped for three days after 17 deficiencies were found.

UK inspectors’ suspicions were first raised when the elderly ship popped up on radar heading south in the northbound lane of the Sunk Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency wrote in a statement on Friday.

When inspectors clambered onboard at Shoreham they found that, not only were the ship’s charts out of date, but the ones available did not even display the Sunk TSS.

Jacobsen entered a guilty plea to this effect at Folkestone Magistrates Court on Thursday while it also admitted being guilty of “heading south in the northbound lane of the Sunk TSS and having hazardous incidents with two north bound vessels,” the MCA wrote.

“They also pleaded guilty to failing to keep proper records of rest, in that the ships master fraudulently kept false records of his rest periods…regularly recording periods of rest when he was actually on watch.”

The Norwegian former manager got off lightly, however, as it was hit with one fine of £6,000 ($9,429) and costs of £2,500. The amounts were kept low in consideration of the guilty pleas while the court felt that “to impose a higher fine would put the company in financial difficulty and with a risk to persons losing their jobs”.

The ex-Sarah was one of a raft of Norwegian-controlled ships to raise the ire of UK inspectors in October 2008. Rem’s 3,131-gt, 2008-built platform supply vessel (PSV) Rem Mermaid was pulled into Aberdeen and detained for one day with four deficiencies; Solstad Shipping’s 9,095-hp PSV Normand Vester (built 1998) was held in Aberdeen for two days with 16 deficiencies; and Spar Shipping’s 28,200-dwt timber-carrier Spar Opal (built 1984) had 15 deficiencies when it was boarded at Tees Dock.

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Giving to Filipino seafarers — and robbing them

Barista Unomarine-cafe.com

Plans are afoot to revise the standard employment contract for Filipino seafarers so that they’d get, amongst other benefits, four-and-a-half months leave in lieu of the current 2 1/2. We can understand the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) wanting to play up to the lads in the Year of the Seafarer. But the whole idea is unenlightened, if not entirely doltish.

The intention, apparently, is to allow seafarers to spend more time with their loved ones. This is all fine given the value Filipinos place on family. On the other hand, the POEA proposal assumes that seafarers abhor the idea of spending up to 12 months (the maximum allowable) at sea. Maybe so. Life at sea is hard and often dangerous. Yet, the stark reality is that scores of seafarers, even the old hands, are desperate to join a vessel in order to feed their families. Most would probably not even think of sailing if only they could find decent paying jobs on shore.

Imagine, too, the impact of the scheme on shipowners. The current rules stipulate that “days leaves shall not be less than two and a half (2 1/2) days for each month of service and pro-rated.” No need for a calculator to see that shipowners would be shelling out more for leave pay if the crew is granted longer leave. The same holds for the joining crew’s air passage, which is to the shipowner’s account, with crew rotation occurring more frequently. And woe to the shipowner whose manning agent in Manila doesn’t have enough qualified replacements for the fellows returning home for a nice, long vacation.

Seafarers certainly would get the short end of the stick. Anyone with an average IQ will understand that shorter-term contracts mean less money for the seafarer and his family. Already, seafarers are spending a fortune every time they prepare to go to sea – certification fees, medical check-ups, transportation, lunches and snacks, even grease money for the ever-outstretched government palms. They’ll likely spend the same amount to cover such items but this time for shorter periods of employment. The proposed longer-leave provision purports to give something to seafarers, only to rob them of what they now have. This is not only dumb. It is mean.

SafeSeas comment:

I think this gives an insight on how far the needs of Filipino seafarers are used against them to render their work a commodity. And how politicians can twist a much-needed initiative — the Year of the Seafarer — to serve their own purposes.


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