Danger Ahead!

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He added that: “International shipping is a vibrant industry and provides rewarding, stimulating and long term career prospects. In recognition thereof, we should focus not only on ensuring that public functionaries and the general public are better informed of shipping’s great values to national and international communities, but also on promoting a career at sea and the varieties of opportunities it offers among children and young people in schools and universities all over the world.”

He further stated that: “Furthermore, the civil public is generally unaware of the important role played by the shipping industry in their day to day life. They seem to be blissfully unaware that without shipping there will be no international connection, and to use the phrase of the then Secretary General of IMO, “one half of the world will starve while the other half would freeze”.

He went on to state that “Until recently, much of the regulatory processes within IMO was focused on developing measures which seek to improve what might be termed the hardware of shipping –the ship themselves, the way they are built, the way they are equipped, the way they are maintained. But, in looking at how improvements in the performance of shipping can best be achieved in this new century, IMO has taken the conscious decision to concentrate its efforts much more on the human element. Thus, “shifting the emphasis onto the people” has become enshrined as one of the organizations’s guiding principles in the new millennium.

“Undeniable, the most crucial, central and pivotal role in IMO’s work in this respect is played by the sub-committee on standards of training, certification and watch keeping –STCW, which through the Maritime safety committee, has the mandate to regulate how shipmasters, chief engineers, deck and engine-room watch keepers and rating –in other words, the entire human element manning ships- should discharge their responsibilities relating to safeguard life at sea, property and the marine environment.

“The most significant achievement came with the adoption by a diplomatic conference in Manila, the Philippines, of major revisions to the international Convention on standards of training, certification and watch keeping for seafarers-STCW convention and code which entered into force on January 2012. These revisions will ensure that the necessary global standards will be in place to train and certify seafarers to operate technologically advanced ship for times to come.

Seafaring is a glorious profession and has no room for error or negligence. Indeed the education f a young sailor is incomplete if it does not include indoctrination for facing calamities at sea or at shore. Successful seafarers are unique individuals. The uniqueness comes not from the possession of any extraordinary intellectual capacity but from the possession of simple common –sense, often referred at sea as behaving in a seamanlike manner. The training and skills required for seafarers are by no means restricted to any particular nationality, race, religion or creed.

In Sierra Leone, the seafarers’ Union, since its restructuring in May 2016, has become the poster organization for, and have been in the forefront of advocacy for marine and maritime training and education in Sierra Leone. And we are proud to receive the trophy of battle, the singing of an MOU to establish marine training for seafarers in Sierra Leone.