Crew Shortage

In this area, you can comment on employers, trends, jobs, rumors affecting the jobs and job prospect of Marine Engineers.

Do you think there is a real shortage of Marine Engineers ?

Yes - all ranks
No - perhaps some ranks
Yes - but only senior ranks
No - Not at all
Total votes: 51

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Philippines loses domestic officers

Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:20 am

Fairplay 27 September 2007
Philippines loses domestic officers

MANILA 27 September – The Philippines’ domestic shipping sector is now starting to suffer a shortage of qualified officers. The sector is usually a source of seafarers for oceangoing ships, but now has too few officers to man the country’s coastwise fleet. Many of the non-liner operators have even proposed to reduce the regular manning requirements for both deck and engine just to run a specific voyage.

Operators led by United Trampers Association of the Philippines (UTAP) complained that the exodus of local seafarers to ships in international trade has created a vacuum in the coastwise trade. The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) usually requires three marine engineers and four deck officers, but UTAP says its members cannot fulfil that requirements. It has already asked Marina to reduce deck and engine department by one officer each, UTAP said in a statement.

Local lines started to feel the pinch earlier this year after many of their officers went overseas. Domestic operators could not match their salaries or prevent the exodus, which they say jeopardises their operations.

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A seafaring captain gives us some insight

Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:21 am

We must restore respect for our crews
27 September 2007
From Captain C R Kelso

SIR, It comes as little surprise to read (LSM, September 2007) that “insurers believe crew shortages are already contributing to the rising severity of casualties and cost of claims” and that the current shortage, estimated to be as high as 10,000, is forecast to double over the next seven to 10 years.

With the massive building programme and the reluctance to scrap older tonnage, it is difficult to come up with a panacea but, before one starts looking for one, it is important to recognise how the industry got itself into such a pickle.

The reckless and overriding quest to reduce operating costs by discontinuing direct employment and employing crewing agencies, contributed to the initial feeling of disenfranchisement among seafarers.

In more recent times the situation has been exacerbated by prolonged periods of service; under-manning leading to excessive hours of work; fatigue and the destruction of shipboard social life; the irrational application of the ISPS Code; incessant commercial pressure (particularly on Senior Officers) and increased ‘operational control’ from without the ship; the construction of ships with accommodation more suitable for the inmates of Wormwood Scrubs than the young men and women for whom it is intended; and, until recently, absolutely no assurance about a career in the industry.

Today’s young seafarers will not tolerate being incarcerated in a steel box hurtling from port to port without some opportunity for meaningful shore leave.

They wonder why they must serve with a crew of 14 comprising six different and diverse nationalities, why they are denied the right to enjoy a beer when off duty.

Making two trainees per ship mandatory may, in the short-term, result in a modest amelioration of the situation, but it will do little to solve the real problem — the inability to retain junior and intermediate rank officers.

When 80% of container vessels fail to maintain their schedule, it should be obvious to even the most ambitious operator that the schedule is unrealistic.

When seafarers are willing to be poached in return for ever-increasing salaries, it should be equally obvious that they will move on as soon as a better offer is forthcoming, and leave the industry when their finances permit.

No doubt with the understanding of numerous compliant Registers desirous of maintaining their fleet levels, the ease of obtaining Certificates of Equivalent Competency, the ability of the crewing agencies to look under every stone (including the flat ones), the outpourings of the diverse nautical training establishments globally, and the payment of ever-increasing premiums, many ships will continue to trade.

But if they are to be competently staffed and operate safely and efficiently, then the underlying causes of the current crisis must be addressed.

Captain C R Kelso 5 Bursledon Heights Bursledon Southampton SO31 8DB

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Few designs on comfort aboard

Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:24 am

Few designs on comfort aboard
17 September 2007 Lloyds List

THE importance of suitable habitats should never be neglected, enjoined an interesting article I was reading the other day. The thrust of this encouraging message was that we are too tidy in our practice of horticulture, our immaculately kept gardens preventing the much desired biodiversity from being established amid our neat borders and weed-free flower beds.

We need to let our gardens get wilder and more unkempt. Not moving the grass, leaving piles of vegetation and fallen logs around, brings a dividend in all the little creatures we would wish to encourage — the ladybirds that would feast off aphids, the hedgehogs which would gorge on the slugs, the edible dormice which besides being, er, edible, would attract owls.

All this plethora of nature, I told my unimpressed wife, could be achieved by a new policy of benign neglect, letting the mower, forks and spades moulder in the shed where they can themselves nurture colonies of spiders.

Lest impatient readers wonder whether they have picked up the wrong newspaper, let me assure them that this question of habitats has a strong maritime link. Seafarers are not like bus drivers or even aircraft pilots, alighting from their ships when they reach port, but live aboard them for many months on end. Their accommodation is a matter of concern to them.

Pursuing this theme rather farther, it is not too far fetched to suggest that, just as the habitat of my unsuitable garden causes badgers and several varieties of bird to look elsewhere, that provided aboard ships is similarly inadequate and actually deters people from following the sea life. Recruitment and retention figures seem to bear this out.

I was brought to this train of thought listening to a very senior engineer of a celebrated classification society talking about the amazing new designs of gigantic containership, which doubtless several owners are even now contemplating.

He showed us a picture of this monster, in which the bridge structure was barely distinguishable from the vast seas of 45 ft boxes which surrounded it, the wheelhouse windows peeping over the top of the towering deck stack like raised eyebrows.

Is this, I asked myself, the sort of ‘habitat’ which I would find attractive? Would I eagerly stride up the gangway at the commencement of an extended trip on this vessel, looking forward to a view out of my window of the back end of a container or, if my cabin is differently located, to the front of the same?

Would I look forward to an exciting moment in some faraway terminal when the light blue Maersk container would be snatched away by the great gantry skyhooks to be replaced a little while later with a soothing shade of Evergreen, or a little MOL alligator grinning in my window?

I remember a cartoon in the New Yorker many years ago in which a couple of tough-looking seamen loll on the hatchway of their ship. Says one to the other in the caption: “It’s the ambience of shipboard life which I find so attractive.” Well, it probably dates me, but I found it attractive, too.

Seafarers from time immemorial have always been treated as a complete afterthought by those who designed their ships. At the delightful museum of Roskilde in Denmark, where 10-year-old Erik Bloodaxes row around in small Viking ships on their school visits, there is a splendid lifesize cutaway of one of those peerless vessels of trade and conquest.

These were magnificent seaboats and, if you loaded a massive modern ship design program and computer with the same sort of criteria of seakeeping, weatherliness, ability to penetrate shallow estuaries, cargo and loot capability, platform for fighting men and so on, I bet the solution would look very like what was turned out by the eyes and adzes of those old Scandinavian shipwrights one thousand years ago.

But, as the ships of Roskilde make eminently clear, the crews of those ships had to fit in where they could after the stores and war gear, the water barrels and mead, the oars and spare sails had been loaded.

They would seek what shelter they could under the thwarts in crude sailcloth shelters wrapped in their furs against the biting cold of the Denmark Straits.

They were the most essential component of their expeditions, but in terms of provision for their comfort and maintenance were an afterthought, fitting in where they could and fortified only by the beguiling prospectus of loot and land offered them by their jarl.

It would be nice to think that as the rude habitations of our Anglo-Saxon forbears gave way to rather better living conditions for those ashore, with chimneys and windows, brick and slate roofs, living afloat would be similarly improved.

But, whether it was aboard warships or merchantmen, the crews continued to ’fit in where they could’ in the spaces not occupied by the great guns and their ball, the ballast or barrels or any other paying cargo.

Stuffed into the forecastle or shuffled into the poop, stowed away where the stowage of cargo would be an inconvenience, the seafarers continued to be the last thing ever thought of by a ship designer. Whether hot-bunking in racks of three dozen in a single fetid compartment below the waterline and alongside the stokehold of an Atlantic liner, or freezing in a damp and unheated space under the catted anchors, the seafarer was ’accommodated’ where nothing else could be stowed.

There was, perhaps some legal relief with the arrival of registered tonnage in the 19th century, with crew accommodation not actually counted into the tonnage computation. But that was only an afterthought, as it was really the engine and boiler rooms for which the owners were seeking a dispensation and the crew accommodation was merely stuck in for convenience.

It would be exaggeration, even for me, to suggest that there was not a shred of improvement enjoyed by seafarers over the best part of a millennium. But I would insist that the amount of time which was devoted to considering the living conditions of the crew, as a proportion of that expended in the totality of the design, remained, and remains, quite tiny.

During the 20th century there were some modest improvements. It was a Port Line ship in about 1928 which was the first vessel ever to have been seen in New Zealand which had her forecastle accommodation divided into a series of two-berth cabins instead of one large space. There were articles in the newspapers and astonished visitors queued up to visit this evidence of the shipowners’ largesse.

The fact that this same layout was a feature on such ships when they were 35 years old in the 1960s was not really something to be proud of.

And, while officers enjoyed better accommodation than ratings, it was perhaps with the addition of electric light and heat, little different to that seen aboard the clippers a century earlier.

During the 1960s, when it was becoming quite hard to persuade people from the industrialised countries to sea, there was a short period when there was some effort made on the accommodation front, notably in the liner trades.

Single berth cabins, unrationed water, pleasant messrooms, saloons and smokerooms made an appearance. Scandinavians appeared with gymnasia aboard.

There was some astonishment at a series of amazing ships built by the British tramp operator Watts, Watts for the quality of the accommodation provided by this one, albeit rather eccentric, owner. A few people, it seemed, were making connections between the retention of the best seafarers and the life they lived aboard ship.

For a few years, literally an eyeblink in the history of the ship, there was some attention paid to crew living conditions. Crews could walk about on deck, where in the ’blue water’ trades much of the ship’s life would be lived, enjoying accommodation far away from the extremities of the slamming bow or the pounding, vibrating stern.

There was, in more ways than one, a little space in which one could live, play deck golf or tennis, swim in a little pool. And, even if the accommodation looked a little utilitarian with its wide use of the laminates of that era, there was the sense that someone had made a bit of an effort.

But it was not to last and the era of the modern, hard-driven ship, crewed by folk from the developing world — prepared to put up with more discomfort than the crews from the developed world would tolerate — soon began. Crews once again found that ship designers had rediscovered their old traditional ways and resurrected the notion that sailors should ‘fit in where they can’.

We saw the appearance of the tower block of superstructure with the smallest possible footprint on the working weather deck, positioned so far aft it was abaft the sternframe, a wonderful conduit for strange propeller and rudder excited vibrations and very uncomfortable motions in a heavy quartering swell.

It might have seemed relevant that the urban tower block had at that time been identified as as a serious source of social problems and even mental health. But designers like to operate in compartments — don’t we all? — and little of this social dimension appears to have made the transition from land to sea.

Some clever designers, trying to balance their weights, plumped for the superstructure right forward, sustained by the belief that this would be an excellent human breakwater to protect the deck cargo. At least they would be able to see where they were going, although the violent accelerations of such a ship in a heavy head sea would not afford the most comfortable habitation.

“Seafarers are there to work, not loaf about enjoying themselves” was the remark attributed to the fearsome Lord Vestey as he struck out several proposed amenities in a draft plan offered him by the company naval architect in the 1960s. I have no means of knowing whether this was true, but certainly those who came after him in the era of ’standard’ ships would have appreciated such a comment.

I was looking at a biggish container feeder just recently, a smart and striking looking ship but from her high and almost windowless superstructure stuck on the afterpart of the poop she was not exactly replete with amenity for her crew.

Nowhere to walk, unless you count squeezing along the weatherdeck rails under the deck stack as enjoyable exercise. Nowhere, even, to sit in the fresh air other than the top of the all-enclosed wheelhouse structure. But maybe they are happy sitting in their cabins watching violent videos when they are not eating their almost solitary meals in their characterless mess before going off to their lonely watches.

Why cannot clever naval architects consider this issue of ’habitability’, because I am afraid it is starting to matter? It matters because people we want at sea will not tolerate the mean-minded conditions in which they are expected to live.

I would like to propose a prize to be offered at one of these endless award ceremonies for a ship which, in addition to delivering all that the money men desire, is a pleasure to sail in.

“It’s the ambience of shipboard life which I find so attractive.” Let us hear it for those who have to live in cabined ships at sea, and see some imagination exercised on their behalf.

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Postby JK » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:29 am

Excellent article on accommodations.

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Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:33 am

Status quo is no longer an option for crew shortages
David Osler, 14 September 2007 Lloyds List

THE International Shipping Federation’s crewing and training conference — held annually in London — has established itself as perhaps the leading forum where the shipping industry can debate what is increasingly a major problem area.

This year’s edition, which took place this week, saw a clear awareness that the status quo is not an option.

It is getting harder and harder to recruit seastaff of sufficient calibre, with the shortages that initially came to prominence for specialist tonnage now spreading out to other sectors.

It is not simply a question of money, either. The idea that a globalised industry should pay its frontline workers first world salaries is one of the perpetual stand-bys of International Transport Workers’ Federation pay-bargaining tactics.

Employers counter that the pay on offer makes ratings as well off as senior professionals in their home countries. Indeed, sometime they earn more then their prime minister.

But however you want to slice it, the fact is that the job is not attracting the right people in the right numbers.

Various explanations are put forward. Probably heading the list is the argument that going to sea is not much fun these days.

Seafarers spend long periods away from home. Whatever amount of money their dollar cheques convert to, they work damn hard for it.

Their hours can be long enough to make junior doctors in the National Health Service look like slackers by comparison.

Short turnaround times leave little option for such traditional distractions as ‘going up the road’. Now that teenagers routinely spend their gap year hitchhiking round rural Thailand, world travel is no longer much of a lure.

The job is sometimes risky, and if the worst does come to the worst, a custodial sentence can be the result. It is not a happy picture.

Opening up Tuesday’s proceedings was Willem de Ruiter, executive director of the European Maritime Safety Agency.

Mr de Ruiter told the audience that crewing — including the link between casualties and fatigue — and the environment were top of EMSA’s agenda.

The chief factors making for safe shipping are three in number, he argued. First, good quality ships. Second, competent crews. Third, the correct infrastructure.

But probably the human element is the most important of these.

“Very considerable efforts have been made to make shipping safer and these efforts have not been in vain,” Mr de Ruiter said.

Groundings, collisions, fires and explosions are all down. There are fewer oil spills. Losses are down for all ship types. Port state control inspectors are finding fewer deficiencies and dishing out fewer detentions.

Encouragingly, he summed up these trends: “Shipping is simply getting better.”

However, he left the question of whether crew quality is improving in a similar fashion open.

Mr de Ruiter did note the obvious improvement in crew productivity. In the 1980s, he pointed out, a typical general cargoship would employ a crew of 30 or more.

Today’s largest containerships carry around 20 times the cargo volume with a crew of just 13. Wages make up just a “tiny, tiny proportion” of an operator’s costs, he insisted.

Accordingly, one would expect to find a surplus of seafarers. In fact, the industry faces a dearth.

Mr de Ruiter said that the quality of maritime training varies from country to country, and even within countries themselves.

This brought him to the topic of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping convention implementation.

EMSA is not in the business of creating new EU rules, as enough EU rules have been introduced over the last 15 years, he stressed.

It undertakes a number of operational tasks, including responsibility for a fleet of pollution response vessels. But STCW implementation is a key aspect of its work.

If countries are to grant reciprocal recognition of each others’ seafarer certification, trust in their worth is essential. Thus there is a need for the verification of standards.

It is obviously more efficient for EMSA to carry out this task on behalf of EU member states, so that one inspection can replace the 27 that would otherwise be entailed.

Likewise, it is obviously more efficient for the training centres only to have to be inspected once.

From next year, EMSA will also audit training in EU member states. “We do not work on the basis that if you are in the EU you are OK,” Mr de Ruiter said.

Its modus operandi is to select the right criteria, prepare extensively — perhaps for months — and then collect as much information as possible.

Only when inspectors more or less know what they are looking for does the actual visit take place.

Moreover, these tasks are carried through with only the minimum necessary manpower; there are fewer than ten EMSA inspectors, Mr de Ruiter pointedout.

The final decision on whether or not to recognise a country’s certification rests with the European Commission, through the so-called comitology process. Ultimately, the Commission can opt for recognition, renewal of recognition or withdrawal of recognition.

Non-recognition was described as the “nuclear option”, as nationals with that country’s certification would no longer be able to work on EU-flag shipping.

Finally, Mr de Ruiter expressed concern over the difficulty of finding good data on crewing. Even the best statistics are often out of date on the day of publication. As a result, EMSA is compiling its own STCW database.

John Adams, managing director of Teekay Marine Services, said that the industry was experiencing not so much a labour crisis as a “war for talent”.

Whereas in the past it was not necessary for shipping companies to develop a personnel strategy, today shipping has become a “people business”.

This applies not just to human resources departments but the entire industry.

With 400 newbuildings expected to be delivered each year between now and 2010, opportunistic companies are seeking short-term fixes by poaching staff trained by others.

“If a company’s viewpoint is simply getting people on ships, then it has already lost,” he suggested.

Recent reports that some companies were even hiring seafarers they knew recently to have been dismissed by others for bad attitude were “on the verge of madness”, he said.

Developments such as the International Ship and Port Facility Security code and working hours regulations make it impossible to meet the shortfall by further crewing reductions.

Wage escalation and higher attrition are likely outcomes, and bring with them the obvious potential for operational difficulties.

There is no alternative to heavy investment, and human resources now need to be at the management top table in every shipping company.

Employees want to be treated equitably, with direct employment and genuine promotion and career possibilities.

Companies have to become self-sufficient in training — as Teekay has — in the realisation that they cannot expect other companies to do things for them.

Not being reliant on training centres brings competitive advantage, Mr Adams suggested. For instance, Teekay is able to conduct ship-specific training for its recruits.

He concluded by arguing that human capital is now as important as financial capital, describing it as the new differentiator.

Ashok Mahapatra, head of the maritime training and human element section at the International Maritime Organization, gave details of the IMO’s current review of STCW.

It will not occasion any back-tracking on standards, he stressed. Instead, it will seek to identify inconsistencies and outdated provisions, root out fraudulent certification, and harmonise STCW with the recent maritime labour superconvention.

John Murray, marine adviser to the International Chamber of Shipping, brought the audience up to speed with the work of the Inter-Industry Work Group on fires and explosions in chemical and product tankers.

This is not an investigative body, he said. Its remit is to obtain reports on such incidents, review them, and collate trends.

He pointed out that the majority of incidents occur during tank cleaning, venting and gas-freeing operations.

In most cases, a failure to follow procedures is evident. Unknown tank atmospheres is a feature in many instances.

While insistent that this was not a case of “blaming the seafarers”, the analysis points to a failure of company safety cultures.

There is no way to avoid entering tanks to clean them, and the use of inert gas is inevitable. Accordingly, procedures should take into account the specialist nature of chemtankers, and not just see them as mini-VLCCs.

The human factor is also an issue. Otherwise competent people can make mistakes, and there is no single solution.

Helen Jones of Det Norske Veritas argued that there are no simple solutions to the crewing challenges facing the industry.

Faster promotion has lead to less practical experience on board ships, with few ‘old heads’ who know the ropes.

DNV estimates that errors are one thousand times more likely when crew are undertaking new tasks than tasks they are already familiar with.

Yet some shipowners lament that 80% of their seafarers have been with their company for less than one year.

Ms Jones examined the reasons why people do not always comply with procedures.

The problem is not one of malice or sabotage, but a desire to save time, or a believe that they have too much work to do or that there are not enough people to do the work.

Often they believe that they are expected to cut corners for commercial reasons, and may even be under pressure from superintendents.

Not all hazards can be designed out; however, it may be possible to increase error-tolerance instead.

Pieter Sprangers, an advisor to the Swedish Shipowners’ Association, said that safely-managed ships adhered to work and rest schedules.

A proper safety culture was present, and seafarers were aware of it.

Fatigue could arise from substandard safety culture, or the absence of a safety culture at all; poor adherence to flag state regulations, and perhaps poor flag states; lack of a true ship-to-shore link; and poorly motivated, ill-equipped crews.

Yet these issues can best be addressed by enforcing and utilising existing instruments rather than introducing new ones.

Companies should tap all available safety resources, including the provision of back office support, and consider such issues as bridge and engineroom ergonomics.

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Master facing drugs trial slams charges as ‘a farce’

Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:35 am

Yeah these kind of actions against seafarers surely help and I am well founded, eh huh . Its no wonder.



Master facing drugs trial slams charges as ‘a farce’
By Nigel Lowry 31 August 2007 Lloyds List

A VETERAN Croatian reefer master has highlighted the personal and professional indignity he and two shipmates are suffering after being thrown into a Greek jail when drugs were found stashed among thousands of boxes of bananas their vessel was carrying from Ecuador.

From Korydallos prison, where he has been held since mid-July, Captain Kristo Laptalo called the case against him and the other two crew members “a farce”.

In a brief telephone call to Lloyd’s List, Capt Laptalo said: “I am a seaman. I do not have a problem with the heat, or bad food or being in a small room. These are not things I cannot stand.

“But the awful thing is that at the age of 58 I am a prisoner when I should not be a prisoner. It is the indignity. ”

Despite his dignified stance his daughter Kristino Laptalo, who has spent a total of 20 days in Athens since his shock incarceration, said her father suffered from high blood pressure and “the three of them are pretty depressed”.

She said: “We do not want to offend anyone, but this is completely absurd. Please show us some evidence. How can it be so easy to put someone in prison?”

Ms Laptalo, who works for the Dubrovnik Port Authority, also said the mayor of Dubrovnik had written to the wife of Greek premier Costas Karamanlis in a bid to bring attention to Capt Laptalo’s plight.

The master of the 1976-built reefership Coral Sea, together with Lithuanian first mate Konstantin Metelev and Filipino bosun Narciso Carcia, were arrested after 51.6 kilos of cocaine was found stashed in two boxes among more than 27,000 boxes of bananas that were unloaded at the Greek port of Aegion on July.

The discovery was made during a quality check carried out by the ship’s agent who notified the coastguard and police.

Although the Coral Sea had already been cleared to sail, Capt Laptalo said he voluntarily left the ship to inspect the suspect boxes himself just 10 minutes before the expected arrival of a pilot.

The Bahamas-flagged vessel remains under detention in Aegion. Its manager, Trireme Vessel Managemen of Antwerp, is said to be strongly supporting the men.

Trireme managing director Kevin Bragg, who also heads a number of Bonita Bananas partner companies in Europe, was travelling yesterday but approved a pre-prepared statement. It concludes: “This is a problem which afflicts all companies involved in the banana trade from South and Central America.

“No member of the crew could have known that the boxes containing the drugs would be unloaded in Aegion. Also, it would be impossible to introduce the drugs into the cargo while in the holds given the limited access to the holds and lack of space.”

Although they are confident the trio will eventually be acquitted, Greek lawyers have prepared them and their families for what could be a lengthy wait behind bars.

Stamatis Tzelepis of the Ioannis Iriotis law office, hired through the P&I club to handle the criminal defence of the three seafarers, said the first opportunity to seek bail again would be after September 17, with an investigating judge’s decision not likely until October.

He said the fight to have the men freed on bail would be “difficult”. Jailing of crew in drug cases was almost routine in Greece. “This is the mentality of the judges,” he said.

Mr Tzelepis said that even against this background of blanket charging of seafarers the Coral Sea case stood out.

“I personally have never seen such a case where there was absolutely no evidence before the judge. The big issue in this case is that when the ship left Ecuador the captain could not know the destination and therefore could have no plan to deliver any drugs.”

In his pleadings Capt Laptalo has said that the orders to call at Aegion were sent to him 13 days after the ship’s July 6 departure from Guayaquil.

Orders to unload 27,377 boxes at the Greek port came 17 days into the voyage.

Korydallos prison, on the outskirts of Athens, is a high security jail that has hosted some of Greece’s most notorious criminals, including dictator George Papadopoulos and urban terrorists.

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Shipmasters slam dry ships policy

Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:37 am

Fairplay 16 May 2007
Shipmasters slam dry ships policy

LIVERPOOL 16 May – AP Moller’s zero-tolerance stance on alcohol on its ships came in for strong criticism from senior member members of seafaring union Nautilus UK today. The issue has come closer to home after Maersk Line imposed the dry policy on former P&O Nedlloyd ships with effect from 1 April. It followed the death of a seafarer on a Danish ship as a result of an alcohol-related incident. Master mariners lined up at the union’s biennial general meeting in Liverpool to express their anger that the imposition of this policy called into question their professionalism, trust and integrity. One P&O Nedlloyd master warned that it would lead to increased levels of undercover drinking and encourage binge-drinking during the short stays in port. Another suggested the move revealed a lack of consistency, as shoreside managers were not prohibited from drinking alcohol outside office hours. Nautilus UK co-ordinator Paul Moloney told members that contact had already been made with Nautilus NL and Danish unions to take the protest to the highest level at AP Moller in Copenhagen.

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Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:41 am

More exemplary treatment of seafarers by a large money machine that is the american shipping line Carnival Corporation. - well ok they are not American per se, but head office and its movers and shakers are located in Florida.


Bravery award hero gets axe
By CHARLES RAE, May 16, 2007 © 2006 News Group Newspapers Ltd.

A HERO seaman due to receive a top gallantry medal from the Queen today has been axed by cruise ship bosses.

Security officer Michael Groves, 41, repelled gun-toting pirates from a ship
carrying 151 passengers off the coast of Somalia.

The buccaneers had tried to force their way on board the Seabourn Spirit
on its way from Egypt to Kenya — using rocket-propelled grenades and
Kalashnikov rifles.

Passengers fled in terror but Michael stood in full of view of the gunmen
and routed them using a high-pressure hose and long-range acoustic device which emits ear-splitting noise.

He also saved crewmate Gurkha Som Bahadur Gurung, 46 — hit by shrapnel as he helped in the rescue.

Som will also be commended by the Queen.

Michael, from the West Midlands, was knocked to the ground by a rocket in the 2005 incident and says he suffered severe injuries which left him unable to work.

He launched a damages claim against Miami-based ship owners Carnival,
accusing bosses of negligence. They claim his employment was terminated
after he chose not to return to work.

Michael said of his award: “I am honoured.”

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Its the same tune, even in French

Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:05 am

Pénurie de navigants : La marine marchande à l'heure du dépavillonnement ?
21/09/2007, MER ET MARINE

Les armateurs français doivent se réunir lundi pour faire le point sur la crise dans le secteur de l'emploi navigant. La pénurie est telle que, cet été, trois navires ont dû sortir de la flotte de commerce française pour être réimmatriculés en Grande-Bretagne. Appartenant à la compagnie Broström Tankers, les pétroliers Bro Albert, Bro Arthur et Bro Alexandre battent désormais pavillon anglais, avec commandants et chefs suédois. « Nous manquons de navigants français. Il faut de quatre à six marins français pour un navire RIF et compter le double avec les relèves », explique Patrick Decavèle, patron de la filiale française du groupe suédois Broström et ex-président d'Armateurs de France. Avec un peu moins de 200 marins français et un potentiel de 60 navigants, la compagnie ne serait donc pas parvenue à maintenir des effectifs suffisants pour armer l'intégralité de sa flotte avec des officiers nationaux. Dans ces conditions, sur 16 navires gérés par Broström Tankers SAS, seuls 13 battent encore pavillon tricolore.
Au-delà de cette entreprise, l'ensemble des compagnies est confronté à la crise, le manque en officier étant estimé actuellement à 600 personnes dans l'Hexagone et 4000 à l'échelle de l'Europe.

Des flottes en croissance et un effectif stable

Alors que le commerce par voie maritime bénéficie à plein de la mondialisation, avec un développement considérable des flottes marchandes, le nombre de marins français reste stable depuis une quinzaine d'années. Au 1er janvier 2005 (derniers chiffres disponibles), on dénombrait environ 3100 officiers et 7000 personnels d'exécution français. Ce chiffre ne tient cependant pas compte de la petite navigation (micro-cabotage, promenades en mer et petite desserte des îles dont activités saisonnières, navires auxiliaires) pour laquelle on estime les effectifs à environ 3000 emplois équivalents temps plein, officiers et personnels d'exécution confondus. Le premier secteur employeur est le transport à passagers, avec les compagnies de ferries, qui représente à lui seul près de la moitié des effectifs (surtout constitués de personnels d'exécution et pour une large part, parmi ceux-ci, de personnels hôteliers), suivi des activités portuaires pour 20%.

Manque d'anticipation ?

A l''Union Fédérale Maritime CFDT, on ne considère pas le dépavillonnement des trois navires de Broström comme une surprise, mais plutôt comme l'illustration d'un malaise général : « Nous ne sommes pas surpris. La formation a été réduite à une époque et on paye aujourd'hui le fait de ne pas avoir entretenu la ressource quand il le fallait », explique Paul Golain. De manière générale, le responsable syndical estime que : « Certains armement se retranchent derrière leurs positions en disant qu'il n'y a pas assez de marins. C'est une excuse un peu facile. On savait très bien qu'on serait confronté à cette pénurie car ce n'est pas du jour au lendemain qu'on voit le manque venir. Il n'y a pas eu d'anticipation ».
Du côté des armateurs, on affirme ne pas rester les bras croisés. La situation est prise d'autant plus au sérieux que le problème devient mondial. A l'échelle internationale, il devrait manquer en 2010 quelques 40.000 officiers pour armer la flotte mondiale. Autant dire que les marins européens, dont la formation est de très bon niveau, risquent d'être très convoités. CMA CGM, qui compte environ 600 marins français, recherche actuellement 70 personnes : « Nous commençons à avoir des difficultés à trouver des seconds et des lieutenants polyvalents. Avec l'acquisition de Delmas, nous avons intégré 46 officiers et une cinquantaine de personnels d'exécution mais ce ballon d'oxygène a été absorbé par le vieillissement des effectifs », explique Thierry Billion, Directeur des Ressources Humaines de CMA CGM.

Départs en retraite, abandons rapides en cours de carrière, refus de l'éloignement...

L'analyse de la situation actuelle démontre que la pénurie d'officiers, en France, est due à des départs rapides après le début de la carrière, généralement entre 5 et 10 ans. « Il y a de moins en moins de vocations et une déperdition du nombre de jeunes lieutenants. Deux tiers d'entre eux partent dans les dix années qui suivent leurs études », précise Thierry Billion. On constate également un phénomène nouveau par son importance, celui des abandons dès la fin des études. Intervient également le déséquilibre de la pyramide des âges, avec un départ massif des commandants atteignant la retraite, ce qui pose d'ailleurs un véritable problème de formation à bord des navires. Ces trois facteurs, conjugués à la croissance, même modeste, de la flotte sous pavillon tricolore, provoque un véritable trou d'air. Pour Armateurs de France, le manque d'officiers prendrait également sa source dans l'évolution de la société, l'éloignement étant de plus en plus mal vécu dans le noyau familial : « Le phénomène n'est pas tant dans le nombre d'élèves entrant dans les écoles de la marine marchande que dans celui insuffisant d'officiers qui décident de faire une carrière de navigant. Il semble que le facteur familial soit décisif dans la décision de cesser la navigation pour un emploi à terre ». De plus, les promotions des Hydros seraient également la proie des entreprises « terrestres », qui n'hésiteraient plus à puiser dans ce vivier très qualifié. Ainsi, selon Jacques de Chateauvieux, président de BOURBON, : « Compte tenu de l'excellence de leur formation et du marché actuel du travail, ces ingénieurs trouvent facilement du travail dans des conditions d'emploi moins pénibles ou moins exigeantes que d'aller en mer ».

Redresser l'image d'une profession aux avantages non négligeables

« Remédier à cette situation, à la quelle sont d'ailleurs confrontés tous les armateurs du monde, n'est pas chose simple », reconnaît Armateurs de France. Pour l'organisation patronale, il est impératif de redresser l'image générale de la marine marchande, régulièrement écornée par des affaires de pollution ou de scandales sociaux : « L'amélioration de l'image de la profession, peu connue du grand public ou connue le plus souvent sous des aspects peu encourageants, est une nécessité ». Pour les armateurs, le premier argument est le plein emploi dans un secteur de l'économie qui tourne à plein régime. Actuellement, un jeune diplômé est, en effet, certain de trouver un poste sur un navire battant pavillon français. Les salaires, généralement réévalués ces dernières années pour retenir les officiers, sont désormais défiscalisés pour les marins travaillant sur des navires immatriculés au Registre International Français (RIF). Les compagnies mettent également en avant des évolutions de carrière rapides vers des postes de direction, comme capitaine ou chef mécanicien, ainsi que l'exercice de responsabilité jeune. Au long cours, les périodes d'embarquement peuvent toujours dissuader, de l'ordre de 45 à 60 jours maximum (56 jours par exemple pour les porte-conteneurs assurant les grandes lignes Asie - Europe) mais elles sont compensées, ce qui n'est pas toujours connu, par une même période de congés. Ces périodes ne sont, par ailleurs, pas soumises aux contraintes de disponibilité que connaissent les cadres « terriens ».

« Rechercher les passionnés de la mer »

Au sein de chaque compagnie, diverses politiques sont menées pour tenter de redresser la barre de l'emploi des navigants français. Chez Broström, où la situation est, comme nous l'avons vu, très sensible, on se veut assez discret sur la question : « Nous avons pris des mesures pour fidéliser et accroître le nombre de marins français », se contente d'expliquer Patrick Decavèle, qui refuse d'entrer dans les détails. Du côté de BOURBON, le géant français des services à l'offshore, Jacques de Chateauvieux se dit satisfait de l'attractivité de sa compagnie auprès de nombreux élèves sortant des écoles de la marine marchande : « On doit rechercher dans les promotions des écoles les passionnés de la mer et ceux là, je dois dire qu'ils choisissent souvent BOURBON pour leurs embarquement et leur premier emploi car nous avons une flotte moderne et nous sommes très transparents quant à notre stratégie et notre politique sociale ». Malgré tout, le président du groupe maritime ne nie pas les problèmes : « On est comme tout le monde. C'est difficile et nous sommes prêts à embaucher tout ce qui est disponible. Nous devons recruter 4000 personnes à horizon 2010/2011 et bien évidemment, on ne trouvera pas en France la totalité de nos besoins ».

Réinventer les carrières et peut-être assouplir les conditions d'embarquement

Chez CMA CGM, première compagnie française, la problématique du recrutement est une priorité. La moitié des 1200 marins actuellement employés étant français, le groupe cherche à adapter sa politique. Pour Thierry Billion, le DRH de CMA CGM, les carrières sont à réinventer : « Il faut s'adapter aux contraintes modernes et moduler la vie professionnelle en fonction de l'absence. Nous avons la chance de pouvoir offrir un parcours avec des postes en mer et à terre. C'est à nous d'inventer un parcours terre/mer et de l'adapter en fonction des besoins et des attentes ». Certains armements réfléchissent également à des assouplissements au niveau des effectifs de navigants. Chez CMA CGM, sur les bateaux armés sous l'ancien pavillon TAAF, cinq officiers étaient embarqués. Un accord a ensuite été négocié pour ramener ce chiffre à quatre. « Il faut gérer la croissance de notre flotte en propriété. Nous sommes dans une phase de discussion pour aménager les conditions du nombre d'officiers sur les navires. Nous souhaitons un maximum de souplesse. Comme un officier français coûte plus cher, on doit l'amortir. Si nous trouvons un accord, nous sommes prêts à embaucher beaucoup plus ». De leur côté, les syndicats ne semblent pas fermés à la discussion, mais réclament des garanties : « Ce que nous voulons ce sont des marins français affiliés au régime de l'ENIM. Il faut promouvoir le métier. Si c'est le cas, il y aura de la demande et il y aura du travail. Nous avons besoin d'un plan au niveau national car il y a une telle demande que les officiers vont au plus offrant. Si un plan ambitieux est mis en oeuvre, on acceptera peut-être d'être plus souples », affirme Paul Golain.

Les armements prêts à s'investir auprès des écoles

Pour Jacques de Chateauvieux, un important travail doit être mené en partenariat avec les Ecoles de la Marine Marchande (EMM) : « BOURBON a participé à Marseille et au Havre à l'installation de matériels très performants pour la formation au positionnement dynamique. De plus, dès le mois d'octobre, un simulateur de relevage d'ancres, qui est une première mondiale, va être installé à l'Hydro de Marseille. Ceci présente deux intérêts. D'abord, les gens viendront du monde entier pour se former en France et, ensuite, cela donnera le sentiment aux élèves d'être dans des écoles modernes qui utilisent le dernier cri en terme de matériel de formation ». Chez CMA CGM, on s'intéresse également de près aux EMM, d'autant qu'une importante vague de recrutement est à prévoir. Avec 21 porte-conteneurs actuellement immatriculés au RIF (sur un total de 336 navires opérés) et l'augmentation de la flotte en propriété, le groupe pourrait compter plus de 3000 marins dans les prochaines années, contre 1200 actuellement. Potentiellement, plusieurs centaines de navigants français seraient donc susceptibles d'être embauchés. Si la création d'une université interne n'est pas encore à l'ordre du jour, contrairement à ce que pratique par exemple le Danois Maersk, la compagnie planche sur des systèmes novateurs pour attirer les jeunes. Ainsi, CMA CGM étudie un système de financement des formations afin de séduire les étudiants : « Nous étudions un projet qui verrait la création d'un système de bourses pour fidéliser les futurs marins. Sur une promotion, nous prendrions un certain nombre d'élèves dont les études seraient payées », précise Thierry Billion.

Une réforme nécessaire pour les Ecoles

La plupart des acteurs de la marine marchande s'accordent à dire que l'actuel système de formation mérite d'être réformé. « Un secteur qui perd ses formations perd ses métiers. Le monde maritime demande que le système soit profondément modernisé », affirme Francis Vallat, président du Cluster Maritime Français, qui a remis récemment au ministre des Transports un rapport sur la création d'une Académie maritime. En France, le système compte actuellement 4 Ecoles Nationales de la Marine Marchande, les Hydros, situées à Marseille, le Havre, Nantes et Saint-Malo, ainsi que 12 lycées maritimes. Les premières rassemblent environ 1000 élèves et les seconds 1600. « Il y a une limite structurelle et un problème de dispersion. Il faut concentrer pour obtenir de meilleurs moyens, disposer d'une formation plus reconnue et avoir une lisibilité au plan international ». Dans son rapport, le CMF préconise, notamment, la création d'une ou deux académies maritimes sur le sol français. Ces centres de formation et de recherche pluridisciplinaires et travaillant en partenariat avec les professionnels rassembleraient non seulement les métiers de navigants mais aussi l'ensemble des professions liées au shipping ou à la sécurité maritime. Plus proches des entreprises et donc plus en phase avec le marché, ces académies proposeraient des modules de formations continues à chaque stade de la carrière. Si une fusion avec les écoles de la Marine nationale n'est pas souhaitée, les métiers étant trop différents, une mutualisation des actions de formation et pourquoi pas de certains moyens est envisagée. Pour Francis Vallat, ces questions doivent être traitées au plus vite par le gouvernement : « Il y a urgence. Malgré la qualité de l'enseignement, le modèle actuel est lent et peu réactif. Les directeurs des ENMM ont très peu de latitude et les professeurs sont démotivés, ne sachant pas où ils vont. Le système tel qu'il est aujourd'hui est suicidaire ».

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Postby JK » Sun Sep 30, 2007 11:09 am

Yes, there is more and more instance of seaman being villianized. It is to the point I am not fussy about signing for anything after an acquittance was on the stand after the Norway boiler explosions. He had signed off the inspection for the boilers when he worked for the the shipping company two years previously. We all know what maltreatment a boiler can go under in a month never mind years.

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The technical knowledge gap

Postby The Dieselduck » Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:13 am

The technical knowledge gap
26 September 2007 Lloyds List

THE consequences of discontinuity may take a long time to become apparent. If you fail to maintain a ship, or machinery on board it, catching up at some later date is almost impossible, and this neglect will have effectively shortened the vessel’s life. If you fail to invest because money is tight, the chances are that irretrievable damage has been done. Continuity is everything.

It is the same with the human component. We have written regularly about the growing concern at the shortage of ship’s crews, with senior officers retiring, and the dearth of experience they will leave behind them, as a result of a recruitment failure throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It is too late, and pointless, to apportion blame, but one hopes that some lessons are being learned from the present panic, to be stored away for any future economic downturn. Don’t stop recruiting and training, the message might conclude.

The present focus of concern might be the manning of ships, but this tends to disguise the real problems that are emerging in the shore-side infrastructure, where there is a shortage of technical experience on many fronts.

There is more demand for technical superintendents, naval architects, people who can represent the owners to foreign shipbuilders, people who have the experience to oversee the construction of sophisticated ships and machinery. Owners, managers, classification societies, shipbuilders, engine builders, equipment manufacturers, designers, consultants, surveyors — the list of clients looking for talented senior technical people is virtually endless.

It is not only that the present population of senior shore-side expertise is coasting into retirement, but the need for such people has expanded. In a far more regulated world, we need people who can interpret regulations. In a world where quality and assessment are so important, we need people with the right experience, ability and judgment to take on this subjective work. And we need more of them all round in a world where the fleet is fast expanding.

So there is poaching and churning taking place. Inevitably, people without the necessary experience are being recruited because there is nobody better qualified available. People are being brought ashore from the fleet, to undertake shore-side technical roles, leaving serious vacancies afloat.

You cannot assemble technical expertise overnight, or accelerate a career structure that depends so much on experience.

It is a sobering thought to consider that the people who will be doing this sort of technical job 40 years’ on are now being pushed around in a pram. Those we need in positions of leadership in 30 years’ time must be attracted into the profession now. Those who will be in charge in 25 years’ time should have been identified by now, in the engineering and naval architecture faculties of the universities. If you are going to reap, you have to first sow, and fallow years are not on the agenda.

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Postby walter osip » Thu Oct 04, 2007 6:07 pm

I have been in this trade for 30 yrs 2nd motor 4th stm. can. I have sent resumes t o all the persons ( should say the ones complaining
about engineer shortage on west coast )ie. seaspan smit etc. around 25 resumes in all. no job . where's the shortage ? perhaps I will call joy at the guild since her qoute of "no one is available" is not so.

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Postby JK » Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:50 am

That is interesting, because I was told that a big company out there was bringing engineers in from India because of the shortages.
Just think the power a company would hold over that individual if that is the case !!

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Walter, I hear you buddy

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:43 pm

Yes indeed Walter, it is a bit frustrating dealing with the HR department of the local Vancouver companies, they seem to be saying one thing but fail to answer their phone or email. I have been there, thats kind of why I have been on this tirade regarding this topic for the last 5 years or so.

Right now is not that great a time for anyone locally because of the strike in the Coastal Forest Industry, I know for sure that Smit is running out of work as I got a lay off notice last week. You can try Brian Siemens at Seaspan, he's the Human Resource manager there, they may have something, but they deal extensively with forest products as well, so , a bit more of the same.

All the best to you...
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Croatian officer ranks shrinking fast...

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:45 pm

From numast's Telegraph, sept 2007

Croatian shortage: the number of Croats completing basic STCW training each year fell from 8,000 in 2000 to under 2,000 in 2005, a leading Croatian ship manager reports.

The pool of 35,000 seafarers available in 1985 fell to 26,000 in 2006, of which 10,400 were officers. In an effort to stem the national shortage of officers, the Croatian government is now taking steps to invest in the country’s training facilities.
Martin Leduc
Certified Marine Engineer and Webmaster
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