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Crew Shortage

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:03 am
by The Dieselduck
The topic of the day lately or it seems, is the issue of crew shortage. All over the industry and the media, even the mainstreams papers, I hear of this crew shortage this and crew shortage that.

I had committed to "paper" my opinions of this shortage in my article of last year "Cries of shortages become louder - So why are so many seafarers upset ?". We also ran a feature from Don Sutherland from New York City who had written a similar themed article, "A personnel shortage? Really?" shortly after. You can find both of these piece in the Ship's Library.

My opinions stemmed from a long experience as a junior engineer dealing with Human Resource departments of many local and international companies. Through my friends and this website, I noticed that it wasn't just me feeling this anxiety.

We use to hear about this looming shortage back when I was in school in the late 90s. So I ended being a bit jaded by Companies that said they are short on "young, trained engineers" but in fact couldn't be bothered to return a simple email. Or if they did it was always, well your not qualified enough or the they would send the standard "please fuck off" letter, as I got to calling them. Ultimately these were the genesis of the Marine Engineering Job Board at, a place for us engineer to lay it there for all to see, and if you like what you saw then take action.

At the end of my article last year, I had planned to place all the articles I had found on this "crisis" online. But lately, everywhere I turn I see that there is another article on this topic, and I am cannot make a "web page thats four hundred feet long". So instead I will post them here. We have lots of room and its easy to get an overview and perhaps draw some comments and perspective from seagoing engineers like you.

Recruitment shine dulled by tarnished image

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:05 am
by The Dieselduck
From, September 25th 2006
Recruitment shine dulled by tarnished image

SHIPPING’S poor image means it will not attract its share of the best and brightest young people to ensure quality in the future, senior industry officials told a World Maritime Day parallel event in Singapore.

Forum looks at greying of B.C. marine workforce

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:06 am
by The Dieselduck
MARK WILSON, in Sailings Magazine, March 06 2006 edition writes...
Forum looks at greying of B.C. marine workforce
Manpower shortfall looming

The greying of British. Columbia's marine workforce and the threat this poses to a now-vigorously expanding sector of the B.C. economy will be the subject of a one-day forum in Vancouver on March 8.

A key speaker at the event, arranged by the Western Marine Community Association, will be labour market economist Roslyn Kunin.

Dr. Kunin has already sketched a looming industry manpower shortfall in a draft paper in which she warns that "unless we do something very soon, we will not have the people with the skills necessary to manage, staff and operate our existing industry let alone a substantially expanded one.

"And 'doing something' requires that we act differently than in the past because traditional methods of filling skill gaps will not work this time around."

The draft paper, which was prepared for a coalition of employers and employees, estimates employment in the marine sector in 2005 at 16,500 full-time persons. Job growth, assuming suitable entrants are available in the required numbers, could hit 10 per cent per annum by 2015.

To meet growth and to replace the large number of workers who have already passed their 55th birthday, the industry will have to hire 7,500 new workers over the coming decade. This intake is equal to 35 per cent of the current workforce.

A canvass of stevedoring companies showed that 48 per cent of their employees are aged 46, or older, while 66 per cent are over 40. A high average age is even more of a problem among ship pilots, 75 per cent of whom will retire in the next 10 to 15 years. In the towboat business, the current average age is 55 and all of this group will be retired by 2016.

And it gets worse. Dr. Kunin's draft paper notes that a number of key occupations in the marine industry call for a qualifying period of 10 years to meet Transport Canada certification requirements. For example, the time needed to become a chief engineer involves more than three years of class time interwoven with six years of seagoing experience. Requirements for deck officers are similar.

Dr. Kunin's paper notes that even if a large class of trainees for seagoing jobs was to be taken on tomorrow, the new hires could not be fully qualified before 2015, at the earliest, by which time the existing towboat workforce will be gone.

Dr. Kunin notes that the loss of seagoing personnel may be worsened by the natural drift of certificated officers to more comfortable jobs ashore, including ones in port and terminal management. Others fill slots in marine surveying, ship inspection and pilotage.

A factor restricting competition for senior positions could be the stultifying effect of little or no growth in the industry during the past 20 years, coupled with downsizing in some areas. These restraints have thwart

ed and then blunted the desire of employees to advance themselves. They have become comfortable with their lot and now have little or no desire to accept belated promotions, which may yield greatly increased responsibility for only a marginal improvement in earnings.

The effects of skill shortages could inhibit the ship construction and ship repair component of the marine industry, which is reliant on naval architects, marine engine fitters, joiners, pipe fitters, electricians and others. Yards are faced with a resurgent demand to update older vessels and to build new ones for BC Ferries, the Canadian Coast Guard and others. Any constriction in the supply of qualified workers could force orders to be directed elsewhere, Dr. Kunin warns.

Technology will be of some help in easing labour shortages, but chiefly in eliminating some low-skilled jobs. However, technology imposes its own demand for even higher levels of skill from workers who are retained.

The forum will hear from John Dyble, B.C.'s deputy minister of transportation, as well as Dr. Kunin.

Industry speakers will describe the actions they are taking or are contemplating in order to head off a crisis in human resources. Dr. Kunin will close the session by suggesting how an industry-wide strategy can be developed. She will call for close cooperation between senior levels of government as the industry is subject to federal regulation while training falls within the provincial realm.

Get serious about human resources, marine forum told

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:07 am
by The Dieselduck
Mark Wilson, in the Canadian Sailings May 08, 2006 edition follows up on the above article and writes...
Get serious about human resources, marine forum told
Triple-A approach needed: attract, advance, attach

Rick Bryant, president of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, told a recent forum in Vancouver "that there is a lot of denial still in the (marine) industry about
personnel shortages."

None of those attending the half-day event arranged by Canada's Marine Industry Alliance could have been in doubt that the industry is closing fast on a human resources crisis as an aging workforce heads for the exit.

Economist Ros Kunin said the industry has a doughnut profile, with a ring composed of competent, middle-age male workers who are drifting to the periphery and retirement. At the core, where young recruits should be emerging to compensate for the fraying edges, is a hole.

Joy Thomson, a business agent with the Canadian Merchant Service Guild, said the manpower situation is so serious it could imperil construction of the 1,220-kilometre Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, if the $7-billion project gets underway.

She said Northern Transportation Co. Ltd. (NTCL), which provides marine services throughout the Mackenzie River watershed, will be facing an exodus of retirees at about the same time it is expected to be approaching peak activity in support of pipeline construction, delivering pipe and supplies by river barge.

Ms. Thomson said that Vancouver's port is the largest in the nation, but it might as well be invisible to the host community. Educators and students are seemingly unaware of the job opportunities the marine sector provides.

"Provincial government funding for the training of industry recruits is needed and there has to be federal involvement, too," she said.

Ms. Thomson questioned whether a recruitment drive undertaken now can be successful in averting a crisis if the industry sticks with its current leisurely timetable for having new hires advance to being captains or chief engineers. The process of passing examinations and gaining sea time takes a decade to complete. "We need to fast track graduates of the Pacific Marine Training Campus (of the B.C. Institute of Technology)," she suggested.

Campus graduate Brook Walker, 24, expects to gain his chief mate's certificate this summer but has found difficulty in gaining work on the West Coast. Currently, he is a deck officer with Princess Cruises, sailing out of his home city of Vancouver in summer and switching to the Caribbean in winter.

He has been told that he needs to start as a deckhand if he is to get a job with a unionized employer in B.C. as he cannot be taken on as a deck officer. Sixteen of his classmates are in a similar fix of needing to find jobs with foreign companies, he said.

Brian Siemens, assistant manager of marine personnel with the Washington Marine Group, which has the largest towboat operation on the West Coast, said the Pacific Marine Training Campus needs to reformulate its training program to give graduates practical experience in the towboat sector. "You know nothing about towing," he told Mr. Walker.

Mr. Siemens said that Washington Marine subsidiary Seaspan International experienced difficulty in getting deck officers to adjust to towing when it decommissioned two self-propelled log carriers and had to slot the men this displaced into unfamiliar work.

Other speakers asked that the towboat industry be accommodating so that motivated young men such as Mr. Walker are not denied work in home waters.

Frank Pasacreta, president and chief executive officer of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, said there are 3,878 longshoremen and 451 foremen at work in B.C. ports. It is expected that 989 longshoremen and 127 foremen will retire in the next four years. Recruitment will have to make good this loss and to provide for the projected brisk expansion in port activity.

Mr. Pasacreta said the BCMEA is ramping up training for industry recruits. In September it is to take delivery of two crane simulators from Applied Research International (ARI), of India.

The simulators, which cost $2.5 million, are believed to be the most sophisticated of their kind in the world, capable of being used to train operators on container cranes, railmounted gantry cranes, rubber-tire gantries and shiploaders. Full visuals can be provided to give a realistic work setting.

The BCMEA has been providing training on simulators since 1991, when it claimed industry leadership in this area. Mr. Pasacreta said his organization has since been overtaken but is confident it will regain a front position when the two new simulators are operating.

Simulator training is complemented by instruction on equipment at a five-acre site in North Vancouver. The property is provided by the Vancouver Port Authority for a token sum but is felt to be too small for an expanded training program. Mr. Pasacreta said the BCMEA is scouting for a larger site, of between 10 and 12 acres.

Another need is for a training centre to house classrooms, a computer laboratory and the new simulators. Classroom training is currently conducted at the BCMEA hiring hall, but it is highly desirable to put all training facilities under one roof. Mr. Pasacreta said an interim solution could be to lease premises, as the ARI simulators need a home by the fall, which rules out new construction.

He said that a training curriculum, developed in collaboration with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, at a cost of $1 million, is to be offered through ARI to other training bodies, on a profit-sharing basis.

The curriculum allows industry newcomers to tackle training in segments. This modular approach permits them to make a productive contribution as quickly as possible. Additional skills can be acquired later.

Max Birch, acting regional director of operations with the Pacific region of the Canadian Coast Guard, said the service does have the flexibility of being able
to draw personnel from other regions, if necessary, "but it is looking at a bit of a (recruitment) bump three to five years out. Being in government, we are great at making plans, but we have not yet gone beyond the paper stage."

He said one positive development is the tying of human resources needs to the coast guard's business plan. Funding is conditional on proper planning to meet staffing requirements. "You won't get funding unless you have a HR plan in place," he said.
The recruitment of more women is a potential line of relief but seagoing assignments are not easy and the service has found that you need a minimum of at least two women on a ship if things are to go well, Mr. Birch commented.

Dr. Kunin said all sectors of the marine industry are poised to expand. 'The bad news is that the constraining factor will be a shortage of people unless we do something, as the recruitment pipeline is empty." She said the most favorably placed sectors of the industry are already experiencing mild problems that will become serious within 10 to 15 years. Other sectors will encounter severe problems within three to five years.
One problem she identified is unwillingness by some hourly-rated workers to accept promotions that could see their earnings diminish while giving them more responsibilities. 'We have to find a way of rewarding these people for helping the industry out," she said.

Dr. Kunin, who both addressed the forum and acted as rapporteur, said, in summary, that a modular approach to training allows industry entrants to get to work in the quickest possible time and have a productive impact while earning good money.
Immigration will offer no easy fix as past experience has shown that those immigrants who are attracted to the industry often move on to other jobs or to other countries. "immigration can be only a small part of the solution as every developed country other than the U.S. has the same demographic of an aging population, so there is international competition for skilled immigrants," she said.

Recruits will not accept a slow path to advancement and higher wages and the 40-something deckhand may disappear in the future. Dr. Kunin offered, as a prescription for the industry's problem, a 'triple-A' solution: attract, advance and attach.

There needs to be a concerted effort to draw in young people by persuading them that good jobs with attractive prospects are on offer. There also needs to be careful selections of recruits, and the promotions pathway for them has to be kept clear. And care has to be taken to see that people stay with the industry during all phases of their careers.

Dr. Kunin said the focus on human resources has to be intense and sustained. She cautioned that it is going to be more difficult to find and retain the people than it will be to win fresh business or raise financing.
On an apocalyptic note, she said: "if the marine industry doesn't get serious about human resources it will come to an end."

B.C. shipping trade issues distress signal

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:08 am
by The Dieselduck
Below is another article I received by email from a friend, its from the Business in Vancouver, Issue #853 - February 27-March 6, 2006
B.C. shipping trade issues distress signal
Krisendra Bisetty

The province’s marine industry is in danger of running aground in an increasingly shallow labour and talent pool over the next decade.

B.C.’s marine industry is bracing for a wave of retirements and other labour supply pressures that will require it to replace almost half its current workforce over the next decade.

The shortages will be felt in posts ranging from engineers, deck officers and foremen to terminal operators and managers. More retirements, fewer cadets in training and the erosion of training programs have combined to create a bleak outlook for the industry. The province’s marine sector includes coastal freight and passenger business, deep-sea shipping, ports, stevedores and terminal operations, ship-building and support services.

With no long-term labour strategy in place, it’s now turning to the province’s oil and gas and construction industries for advice on strategies to deal with a looming manpower shortage that could cripple marine transportation. “We figured that unless we did the same thing we’d definitely be in some sort of difficulty,” said Rick Bryant.

The president of B.C.’s Chamber of Shipping is also a representative of the Western Marine Community, a coalition of the various marine industries that plans to meet March 8 to explore ways to grapple with the labour shortage issue. Research commissioned by the coalition reveals that B.C. will have to replace 45 per cent of its marine workforce during the next decade. Shortages are expected in a wide range of occupations mainly as a result of retirements. “The shortages are made seriously worse by the fact that in the marine industry one needs very specialized qualifications, very specialized training, and extremely specialized experience to become a qualified worker,” said Roslyn Kunin, the study’s author. “It’s a long pipeline and the pipeline has been pretty empty.”

Kunin, a Vancouver economist, said the industry will have to deal with its manpower crunch by either adjusting or accelerating training programs without compromising qualifications and safety. It will also, she said, have to look at using more women and imported workers. The long lead time required to quality for some marine industry jobs has raised concern over whether they can be readily filled, said Bryant. For example, it typically takes more than a decade to move up the ranks to become a pilot of a cruise or container ship.

Bryant added that luring new workers will come at a price. “I think we’re looking at higher wages, higher than they would need to be,” he said. “If we can’t get people like [shipping agents, tug berth operators], then B.C. stops being an attractive place for shipping.” Bryant said the industry isn’t seeing the same interest from prospective employees as in the past, mainly because they don’t find the marine lifestyle desirable. “They want to be in the cities. They want nine-to-five jobs and are not looking to be away for weeks or months at a time.”

The coalition is hoping to boost the industry’s image in several ways. A key strategy will be grassroots marketing at schools. “The real hurdle is lack of awareness. We’re just not on the radar screen of kids that are in school,” said Bryant. “I don’t think these kids are even aware these kinds of jobs are there.”

The industry is also considering asking the B.C. Institute of Technology’s Marine Campus to develop new courses and re-introduce a basic course in shipping and shipping logistics. Canada ’s largest marine transportation company, Seaspan International Ltd., which has its offices in North Vancouver, is already addressing some of the industry challenges through greater investment in company training programs, said Lisa Bumbaco, human resources vice-president for Seaspan’s Washington Marine Group corporate parent. “While there are currently some challenges in finding qualified staff we anticipate that in the next five to 10 years we will be faced with a more critical shortage, particularly of licensed officers, including masters, mates and engineers.”

Bumbaco added that there are also shortages of skilled trades people in the company’s shipyards. The study said “striking” statistics were provided by the B.C. Marine Services Guild, which represents 2,138 deck officers, 1,040 engineering officers and 106 pilots in its member companies.

Those ranks are projected to drop by up to 50 per cent in the next 10 to 15 years. According to the report, pilot numbers will be among the hardest hit: an estimated 75 per cent will leave the industry during that period. B.C.’s tugboat sector, however, will fare even worse, with all of its personnel, whose average age is currently 55, expected to retire.

IMEC report sheds light on officer crisis

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:09 am
by The Dieselduck
IMEC report sheds light on officer crisis
David Osler, 2 August 2007 Lloyds List

SHIPPING’S officer shortage has now reached “formidable” proportions, an unpublished report from the International Maritime Employers’ Committee suggests. Some shipping companies are even recruiting officers that had been sacked by other operators because of attitude problems or lack of ability, it is claimed. References are sometimes not checked until recruits are in transit to join ships, because of fears that any delay will lead them to take another job.The number of qualified applicants per officer vacancy has “significantly declined” and wages have to be increased every six months in some specialist trades, even though officers are working less time each year. Even basic general cargoships were experiencing recruitment issues, as officers find work on more specialist tonnage.

In addition, the document highlights “fundamental weaknesses” in maritime training in the Philippines, with only 20% of the officer trainee intake graduating and holding down a job four years later. “The need to provide upgrading training to officer cadets to overcome poor basic maritime training standards was widely reported,” IMEC notes. “Most companies reported that such upgrading cost them between $100 and $500 per trainee per month.”

All told, the situation is worse than anything highlighted in the industry standard BIMCO/International Shipping Federation five-yearly surveys, which pointed to a 2% shortfall when it was last updated in 2005. Expected growth in the world fleet will only exacerbate matters, the document suggests. IMEC’s paper summarises the deliberations of a working group on the problem, chaired by Susanne Meyer of Columbia Shipmanagement, which was charged with coming up with solutions rather than academic analysis.

Recommendations include increased use of rating to officer training schemes, funded through the joint employer-union International Bargaining Forum welfare fund, a move that would need to be sold to the International Transport Workers’ Federation. Cadet training in the Philippines should be enhanced by an IMEC training course, and there should be support for English language training for Russia and the former Soviet Union countries. New labour supply sources also need to be developed, with Vietnam, China, Burma and Indonesia seen as most likely to plug the gaps. Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Turkey were also mentioned in this connection.

IMEC representatives were yesterday unavailable to discuss the document.

Training the trainers

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:10 am
by The Dieselduck
Training the trainers
30 July 2007 Lloyds List

THE industry is facing a serious manning crisis, without a doubt. It has not appeared suddenly, like a tsunami, but has been forecast for many years, not least by the International Shipping Federation-BIMCO studies and their five-yearly updates.

These, carefully researched and enthusiastically flagged, have been full of facts and common sense, advocating the development of proper long-term strategies, urging people to train rather than poach and to face the realities.

I read somewhere recently, probably in a leaflet from lawyers trying to drum up business, that only 30% of us have bothered to make a will. This, it suggested, was because we failed to consider long-term realities. In that the inevitability of death is a racing certainty for us all, we are being downright irresponsible. An email address was helpfully included to remedy this irresponsibility immediately.

But these lawyers were absolutely spot-on. We will not even consider the mid-term realities we face, let alone the long-term ones. We are naturally short-term thinkers. Ask a ship manager about long-term manning strategies and he will tell you that he is desperate to find a second engineer with a tanker endorsement, Wärtsilä experience and a valid US visa for a ship leaving Singapore next Tuesday. A week is long-term for him and, yes, he will probably poach someone from the opposition.

Is he worried about the quality of this unknown soul whom he will be appointing to a critical post in a sophisticated ship? Yes he is, but he has to work with what he can find.

Is this chap typical of what is found in the industry? Absolutely, because with the expansion of the world fleet, and the fact that it is working harder than ever, the existence of all such people has become more frenetic, more hand to mouth, and more reactive to manning crises and shortages.

All the chickens have come home to roost, all the consequences of the long years when the shipping industry did not train or consider issues of retention or demography and ageing senior officers, are ending up on some wretched person’s desk.

You might say, what about the vast legions of Chinese officers emerging from these gigantic academies in Shanghai and Dalien? What about the great armies of cheerful Filipinos on whom the industry has been increasingly depending? What about the masses of Indian officers and all those other seafarers from what we like to term “labour supplying countries”? The countries of the former Soviet Union, which got us out of a pickle in the 1990s?

Well, as those who got beyond the executive summary of the ISF-BIMCO reports would have learnt, pure numbers are not the only issue.

Seafarers are more specialised than they have ever been. The old OECD officers are retiring in droves, but there is often a reluctance among their juniors to replace them. Why accept all the responsibilities of higher rank when you can get a very reasonable reward without them?

Moreover, people are at sea to make money, and when the nest egg has been built up sufficiently the seafarer is ashore for good, no hanging around doing a job that is largely endured, rather than enjoyed.

But, equally, competence has become a huge issue. There are all manner of people wandering about bearing certificates which purport to illustrate their fitness to be a mate or an engineer of a large, ocean-going ship. Many, it has to be said, are not worth the paper they are written on.

You have to be sorry for these people, who invariably have spent large sums of their families’ money at some maritime college in the Philippines but who, after completing the course, find their qualification more or less useless. And yet the shipping industry is crying out for officers. What is going on?

Some interesting clues come from David Dearsley, secretary-general of the International Maritime Employers Committee. His 120 members operate 6,500 ships and employ 150,000 seafarers, including 52,000 from the Philippines.

Many people think IMEC is merely a negotiating body designed to argue with the International Transport Workers Federation, but the issue of crew quality and training is a major matter for these employers. In 1998 it established, with the International Maritime Training Trust, an independently administered fund designed to provide grants and assistance, where they would do the greatest good.

From a modest beginning, the trust has disbursed grants exceeding $6m. Up to 2004, explains Dearsley, the money was largely spent on “kit”, with grants for lifesaving training equipment in the Philippines and Poland, English language laboratories in various locations, marine safety equipment, deck, engine room and liquid cargo handling simulators, various navigation training hardware and software and a range of free courses on Marpol topics. Welding equipment and advanced training was also supplied.

A review of how the money was being spent was carried out in 2002-2003 and, as a result, the emphasis changed to educational projects rather than the provision of hardware. This swing from the hardware, says Joseph Thullier, secretary of the trust, was very important as it enabled the fund to address what was already recognised as hugely critical in the issue of instructor competence.

It was something that the IMEC members already recognised. They knew the value of those bits of paper borne by all those sadly unemployable young people in the Philippines. It was recognised that a lack of teaching skills in so many of the colleges was a major factor. And, as for the simulation equipment installed, here too there was poor quality teaching, with much of this expensive equipment under-used.

There was a need, said Capt Thullier, to “get back to basics”, and the IMTT review identified the need to upgrade teaching skills and do something practical about the educational deficiencies of the Philippine secondary school system.

A system of academic “ramping” was devised — which might be described as remedial work — in which intensive training courses ensured that trainees at the Philippine maritime academies were up to scratch. Leadership had been identified as an important issue and leadership courses for both ratings and officers were devised.

A range of core courses, designed to add value to the people who undertook them, was developed. These included bridge team and resource management, electronic charts, security, firefighting, tanker familiarisation and liquid cargo handling specialist training and risk management and accident investigation. All would build quality and competence and all would make those graduating far more employable to owners seeking to recruit and retain high quality personnel. Co-operating with IMTT in this development have been the Dutch Maritime Institute Willem Barentz, Warsash Maritime Academy and Unitor.

Warsash had been involved in the 2002 review of IMTT projects, when it was concluded that the tools for training were not being used in the Philippines academies as well as they ought to be. Michael Barnett, head of post-graduate studies and research at Warsash, points out that the skills of the teachers are crucial, and there was a need to make lecturers at the Philippine institutions, who sadly are not as “revered” as they ought to be, more professional.

A range of options was reviewed which included the delivery of IMO model courses and improved technical training. However, it was concluded that what was most likely to succeed was a post-graduate certificate in maritime education which would upgrade the professionalism of the lecturing staff. Prof Barnett suggests that such a course “creates the conditions for learning”, helping to instill the view students are more important than the lecturer and learning to employ the tools for training more effectively.

The course has been validated in the Philippines and is a sort of two way process, involving visits from Warsash staff to the selected Philippine academies, and with visits from Philippines lecturers undertaking the course to Warsash.

Prof Barnett is sensitive to the significant educational cultural differences between Britain and the Philippines and has, he said, “mixed and matched” course material for the different cultures. The year- long course will provide for practical teaching experience and interaction with students to underpin theory, part of the purpose of the visits being to see people operating in their different habitats.

It will be backed up with electronic distance learning material, a virtual learning environment in which there will be elements of face to face contact, and synchronous discussion groups. In terms of content it will resemble that of an ordinary masters course.

Of course, only a limited number of Philippine lecturers will be able to undertake this training, at least at first. They will be the crème de la crème, but hopefully will be part of a ripple effect which will see the best practice they have learnt spread throughout their institutions and beyond. Considerable effort has been taken to ensure that those undertaking this new course have the full support of their superiors, as there is nothing more depressing than to discover that such new knowledge is unwelcomed at the conclusion of a course. The course had to be sold to the college principals, who hopefully will be in a position to benefit from the results.

The course, says David Dearsley, is an industry first, but it is hoped that, being accredited best industry practice, the way will be clear to widen it to other countries. It also demonstrates what can be done if proper resources and funds can be applied in such a fashion to upgrade education and start the process of providing the higher quality seafarers, which the industry so evidently needs.

In its way it is a perfect example of the fact that you get out of education exactly what you put into it. It also illustrates the sad truth that if the shipping industry really wants to see better quality seafarers aboard its ships it has to be more closely involved with what is going on in the colleges in the countries where the education is undertaken.

It is too late to wait until the end product, the graduates, emerge and then to decide that they do not come up to scratch. IMEC and the IMTT are the vehicles for this involvement and have done a great deal.

Others merely complain at the end product, subcontract all their manning responsibilities to others and wonder why they they seem to have employed incompetents and the master is afraid to go to bed at night. It is also looking a little long term, which is very important, if a trifle unusual

A seafarer offer his opinion

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:11 am
by The Dieselduck
Capt. Harman Sandhu offers some insight from Canada in a recent entry to this Marine L email list...

"In my opinion there is no shortage of officers in the merchant fleet any where in the world. Otherwise no seafarer would be at home trying to find employment. The shortage is of cheap (inexpensive) seafarers. The Indian seafarer has also reached a stage where the present salary levels are no longer attractive to bring people out to sea, where one will be away from home for long periods with pre-historic communication available on board on a large number of vessels.

Perhaps what is happening is that there is no more a surplus of seafarers; hence the managers which earlier had a ready choice have now to plan and organize themselves better.

This is probably just a waiting period till the owners/managers find a ready pool of seafarers from countries where the wages would be at a level acceptable to make a better profit margin for the ship-owners.

A shorter tour of duty, better communication facilities on board, and salaries attractive enough to justify long absences from society, will surely encourage more people to come to sea.

In my opinion this shortage is akin to the fear mongering in Canada, whereby we always seem to need more immigrants, yet the unemployment is around 6%. If we need more in Canada that would mean that the ones that are already in the country are gainfully employed in the professions that they were originally qualified and assessed on, before coming in to the country.

Why would it be so hard for the owners to hire from a world wide pool if it was not to watch the bottom line? "

Shipping lines must be allowed to hire foreign crew to tide

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:12 am
by The Dieselduck
Shipping lines must be allowed to hire foreign crew to tide over the manpower crisis
The Hindu Business Line, Shubhra Tandon, N. K. Kurup 22/07/07

One of the major issues Ms Kiran Dhingra has been trying to tackle ever since she took over as the Director-General of Shipping more than a year ago is the shortage of men to steer the country's Merchant Navy fleet.

The first lady officer to occupy a key post in the Indian maritime administration, Ms Dhingra appears to have earned the reputation as one who is prepared to understand the problems facing the shipping industry.

Despite her earnestness, the shortage of marine officers has only taken a turn for the worse, if the recent developments are anything to go by. The death of a junior marine engineer employed on a Shipping Corporation of India ship recently, has brought the gravity of the situation back into focus.

Denial of leave

While the SCI insists that it was an accidental death, a colleague of the deceased has registered a police complaint alleging that the officer had committed suicide, as he could not get leave. It was reported that the young officer was working on board continuously for 11 months. He was denied leave, as the company could not find a reliever, it was alleged.

More recently, there was another instance of suspected suicide by a seaman on a Great Eastern Shipping Company's ship. The reason and circumstances were probably different in this case. There are also instances of merchant navy officers being denied leave for marriage and even for attending death ceremonies.

Whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that there is an acute shortage of marine officers in the country, leading to what industry observers call instance of violation of safety norms and service conditions of seafarers.

The response of the marine administration has been found wanting. Immediately after the incident on the SCI ship, the Shipping Minister himself had sought a report on the service conditions of seafarers on Indian ships.

The Minister had agreed to take some immediate measures, particularly to ease the shortage of marine officers. One of them — the most important — was the decision to allow domestic shipping lines to hire foreign marine

As per the existing regulations, Indian flag-carriers are not allowed to employ foreign nationals on board. Domestic lines have been asking for a relaxation of this rule to tide over the manpower crisis.

Hiring foreign crew

Even after six months, shipping companies are awaiting the government order for hiring foreign crew. Ms Dhingra had issued a draft circular allowing recruitment of officers from select countries, but no decision has been taken in this regard.

When the issue came up in the meeting of the National Shipping Board in Kolkata last week, she had apparently pulled up the SCI for not fully utilising its training facilities. No progress was made in the draft circular either.

When airlines in India faced shortage of pilots, they were allowed to hire foreign pilots, who were even allowed to fly domestic flights. But when it comes to hiring foreign masters for Indian ships, there comes the bogey of security threat, says a leading Indian shipowner.

The Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA), whose members account for nearly 90 per cent of the Indian fleet, has reported shortage of 834 officers, as on March 31,2007. This includes 64 masters, and 232 second
and third engineers.

Considering the planned acquisitions of new vessels, the shortage could exceed 1,000 by the end of the current fiscal. "The situation may deteriorate further even with a modest growth of 10 per cent in the number of feet by next year," said a senior shipping company official.

"There is hardly any difference in the total wage bill of an Indian shipping company and a comparable foreign operator. But a seafarer serving on an Indian ship gets much lower than his counterpart on a foreign ship as he has to pay income-tax, which makes the difference. An Indian seaman working on a foreign ship does not pay any tax," said an official of INSA, which has been seeking tax exemption for seafarers working on ocean-going Indian ships.

It would be difficult to prevent Indian officers from seeking foreign jobs. Three options are being talked about to find a solution to the problem: Train more people, make jobs on Indian ships more attractive or allow recruitment of foreign crew.

Though training facilities cannot be created overnight, as being pointed out by shipping lines, nothing prevents them from fully utilising the facility available on-board.

Salary disparity

The salary differences will continue to exist as the nature and conditions of employment are different in India. The shipowners' suggestion of a flat five per cent income-tax on all Indian seamen trained in India, including those employed on foreign ships, sounds sensible, as there is no loss of revenue to the government.

But income-tax authorities may find it discretionary.

So the best solution would be to allow Indian lines to hire from anywhere, provided they are able to prove the lack of Indian hands with similar experience.

Union goes head to head with owners

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:12 am
by The Dieselduck
Union goes head to head with owners
By David Osler, 17 July 2007 Lloyds List

NAUTILUS UK — the British officers’ union — has criticised what it brands shipowner and flag state pressure to introduce greater flexibility between deck and engine departments, and between officer and rating grades.

The issue of so-called ‘alternative certification’ is being debated at the International Maritime Organization, as part of a wide-ranging overhaul of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping convention.

But a recent meeting of the union’s council heard general secretary Brian Orrell argue that owners wanted not only to see crewing levels reduced, but also the introduction of officers without full certification for their position.

“If this is being pursued for economic reasons and in response to the shortage of experienced officers, it will create further shortages, because it places increased reliance on the master and chief officer, who are not being trained in sufficient numbers to be replaced,” Mr Orrell insisted.

Another council member pointed out that the STCW review is supposedly about updating standards, not reducing them.

Senior national secretary Allan Graveson said that while unions have acknowledged the case for increased use of simulators, this should not come about at the expense of reducing existing sea-time requirements, which are inadequate.

Simulators are very good in certain aspects of training, such as ship handling, council members conceded. But they cannot teach the managerial aspects of the roles of master and senior officer

Crew recruitment in state of crisis

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:13 am
by The Dieselduck
Crew recruitment in state of crisis
By Denzil Stuart, 11 July 2007 Lloyds List

CREW recruitment, training and retention is no longer a problem — it is in a state of crisis, according to Ole Wikborg, director of the Norwegian Hull Club.

Speaking at a recent Nordic marine insurance seminar organised by Cefor, the Central Union of Marine Underwriters in Norway, Mr Wikborg argued that underwriters have yet to understand the effect this will have on their bottom lines. He said that nautical accidents is the fastest growing claims category in terms of costs, and they hurt shipowners financially. Yet they can be reduced with an increased focus on the recruitment and training of seafarers.

Mr Wikborg, who is a vice-president on the executive committee of the International Union of Marine Insurance, said underwriters are underestimating the future added insurance exposure and claims costs resulting from crew shortage, lack of training and seagoing experience.

The exposures facing owners that are not covered by insurance include offhire/cashflow, loss of management time, administrative costs, and loss of reputation. Although offhire and extra expenses could be calculated in financial terms, what was the cost of loss of reputation?

Too often, said Mr Wikborg, the attitude of owners was to regard crew as a commodity, the cost of which had to be minimised. There had been short-term employment without any long-term employer commitments.

Today, he said, there are booming markets, record newbuilding orders but little scrapping, more advanced technology, more cargo, more complicated cargo, more focus on timetables and a more rigid regulatory regime — yet owners find it difficult to fill crew vacancies

The remedies, he suggested, were that seafarers have to be recruited and retained with a long-term perspective, to realise that life at sea is a career, not a short-term occupation, and recognition of career development. All of this, he admitted, takes time, effort and money.

For a quick fix, he urged an improvement in onboard communication.

Mr Wikborg will be among a number of speakers and panellists from the shipping and insurance industries to debate this urgent topic at IUMI’s annual conference in Copenhagen from September 9 to September 12.

MOL Training Vessel SPIRIT OF MOL Launched

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:14 am
by The Dieselduck
Funny. I have never heard the Japanese complaining of crew shortages. Yet they are actually doing something about, it instead of blowing hot air and crying for attention. - Martin

MOL Training Vessel SPIRIT OF MOL Launched

Tokyo July 2, 2007 - Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. yesterday launched its first training vessel, the SPIRIT OF MOL, at the Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Company in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture. Executives on hand for the launching and christening ceremonies included MOL Deputy President and Director-General of Safety Operations Headquarters Hidehiro Harada. The company will start practical training aboard the vessel in mid-July. Launching of the SPIRIT OF MOL is key to the company's efforts to reinforce the safety of vessel operations.

Length overall : 106m
Breadth : 16m
Draft : 5.80m
Gross tonnage : 4,878 tons
Main engine : Diesel x 1 (6,200ps)
Flag : Panama

The SPIRIT OF MOL has a training bridge on floor above the actual bridge. This feature is unique to the training vessel. MOL also has about 10 full-time instructors, who will provide education and practical training to 180 trainees per session.

MOL cadets of the same level of training from different nations (the Philippines, India, Russia, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, etc.), will train onboard together. The company believes that intensive training in a cross-cultural atmosphere will not only help those master maritime skills, but also develop a stronger sense of pride and teamwork.

The training vessel will sail out to Manila, where one of the company's main base of human resource in a few days. Filipino and Russian cadets will train onboard as the first cadets of this new training program. Their training voyage, from the Philippines to India, begins on July 16. The first onboard training will last four to six months, and is mainly for the cadets who do not have practical vessel experience.

A global shortage of skilled mariners is forecasted for the coming years, and at the same time, the company is implementing a major fleet expansion. To address this issue, and ensure safe, top-quality vessel operation, MOL is expanding training operations around the world to provide classroom and practical training for future seafarers.

The SPIRIT OF MOL will give cadets onboard experience, which is essential for getting international mariner certification, as well as having passed the necessary curriculum in a designated educational institute. Graduates from this new training system will soon contribute to safe operations throughout the MOL Group fleet.

Another seafarer offer insight

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:15 am
by The Dieselduck
Greg Hayden from California, offers us his insight as an engineer a few years back in a recent Marine L list post...

"1960 I shipped out in the fcsle, got my Original Thirds March 1966. Mid year 1967 I got a Temporary Second, my Permanent Second in 1968. Temporary First, 1969. Permanent First 1970, and, Chief 1973. From summer 1967 through much of 1970 I sailed Second. I really liked the 4-8 watch and I liked the work. I liked how the hours of those watches just disappeared. I liked to make those boilers run sweet and economically. I kept up with the soot blowers and gauge glasses and water level controls and stuff and worked a LOT of OT.

Around then there was a severe engineer shortage. Companies offered five figure 'signing bonuses".

After the 'Nam War a LOT of Port Engineers lost their licenses. Because they had 'missed' so many ships. Port engineers would sign on to fill the bill, then 'miss' her. It was not unusual to sail short at least one if not
two or three engineers.

An around the world six month tramp voyage in 1968. Including hanging around in 'Nam two months. A Chief, luckily a worker, a First and a Second, me. The First and I worked six and six. The Chief never seemed to go to bed. All three of us paid off for nearly the same money. My share was seventy-eight Grand. The Shipping Commissioner was flabbergasted.

Getting back to Second with a full crew. I awoke many a morning at 4AM, propped up in front of the boiler water test cabinet. I tested both boilers every day, but one in the morning, the other in the evening. After testing
came dosing.

On those C4's settlers were switched at midnight and noon. And took 2-3 hours to refill, which sounds slow. But. When you ran one over through the sounding tube, located on the operating plat aft bulkhead, behind the boilers; it sure seemed to flow fast enough. You had to run forward and down the ladder to the forward end of the lower engine room to the pumps and manifold. Those C4's, originally built as Troopers, carried 24,000 barrels, around the world fuel, in their double bottoms.

Walk the plant at 1530, relieve the 12-4 watch at 1545, start transferring oil. Blow tubes at 1600. Sound settler. Relieved for evening meal at 1645. Sound settler. Throttle watch at 1745 while Oiler makes his written temperature round. Sound settler. Begin testing water about 1800. Frequently sound settler. Done with oil transfer, boiler water testing and dosing and it is 1915. Oiler goes to call the 8-12 watch. Time to wash up, make out the log book, and stand ready to be relieved at 1945. Those 2nd's sea watches went SO fast.

I sailed First 1971 though 1975, then swallowed an anchor. Oh, five foot six, blue eyes, natural blonde. I never sailed Chief. It was offered but I declined. I was young and I just could not figure out what I would do with myself all day. I was not going to be one of those Chiefs that worked twelve-hour days, and earned about half what I did as First."

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:15 am
by The Dieselduck
Cash ‘not answer to crewing crisis’
23 March 2007 Lloyds List

PAYING “top dollar” seafarer salaries does not guarantee loyalty and is not the answer to the industry’s crewing crisis, according to a panel of experts, writes Rajesh Joshi. The way to redress the problem is to foster lifelong “contracts” with seafarer recruits that build on career development, the panel at the Connecticut Maritime Association conference concluded.

Bob Bishop, chief executive of V.Ships Shipmanagement, told the Manning Strategies panel that the intractable challenges of attracting and retaining crews needed a radically creative approach that recognised the importance of email and communication links with mariners’ families. The days of putting out to sea with no contact with the outside world for weeks or months on end were over, Mr Bishop said. Today’s new generation expected to be “connected” with its family and friends every day, and this reality needed to be addressed.

Mr Bishop cited many reasons why the “romanticism” of going to sea had faded.These included higher regulation, visa issues, criminalisation, cultural issues involving multinational crews and higher retirement levels, enveloped in the bigger challenge posed by more lucrative land-based employment opportunities.

Simply paying more in seafarer salaries was not the answer, he stressed. Instead, V.Ships sought to address reality by offering recruits a guarantee of a lifelong job if they so desired, wrapped into a clearly defined career development path. The assurance of emails and internet use was an integral component of the company’s approach. V.Ships had a goal of increasing its world-leading pool of 23,500 seafarers to 60,000 by 2010, Mr Bishop declared.

To this end, the company was placing greater emphasis on having cadets on board its managed ships, a number expected to rise from the present 765 to 1,500-2,000. He identified the US and Canada as crew supply markets “worth revisiting” as the wage gap with the developing world narrowed.

In a strictly US con text, Overseas Shipholding Group’s vice-president for marine labour relations, Norm Gauslow, echoed the substance of Mr Bishop’s comments. OSG’s 16 product tanker newbuilding programme in Philadelphia and six articulated tug barge newbuilding programme in Alabama had thrown up the need for 1,000 new seafarers ranging from entry-level unlicensed crew to middle and senior-level officers, Mr Gauslow said.

OSG was prepared for this challenge with a recruitment strategy that would promise entrants more than just the cash. The company’s focus would be on defining clear career paths for seafarers, he said.

DNV suggests incompetence among crews

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:16 am
by The Dieselduck
DNV suggests incompetence among crews is behind rise in accidents
Rajesh Joshi, 22 March 2007 Lloyds List

GROWING incompetence among crews, possibly brought on by new recruits, poor retention and overworked seafarers, could be the reason behind an increase in the frequency of serious maritime accidents since the start of the new century, Det norske Veritas has said.

Data released by the Norwegian classification society at the Connecticut Maritime Association conference purports to show that while accident figures today are half of what they were in the late 1980s, “the trend is about to turn”.

This reversal has been clearly felt and seen since the start of the present decade, according to DNV data.

Tor Svensen, chief operating officer of DNV Maritime, told Lloyd’s List that this unwelcome reversal of the trend could plausibly be attributed to a “loss of competence” among crews, linked with stress and fatigue but not necessarily attributable to fewer crew members per ship.

The link with reduced competence was only a theory, Mr Svensen stressed.

Nevertheless, figures compiled by DNV on navigational accident frequency for large containerships, ro-ros and crude as well as chemical tankers that date back to 1987 show a downward trend until 2001, followed by an increase from that point on.

Even the tanker segment, with its vaunted focus on safety, has reported more accidents than five years ago, DNV’s study notes.

The society says collisions, standing and contact damage are areas of high concern and the figures belie higher technical and transparency standards in the industry today.

Dr Espen Cramer, head of DNV Maritime Solutions, said in a statement: “In sum, the general level of experience on board vessels has been reduced. There are more new recruits, less retention and faster promotion.

“In addition, onboard workloads with respect to paperwork and inspections have increased while crew size is stable. Loss of experience is a stress factor for those... who have to continuously train newer crew members.”

Although shipping is going through relatively healthy economic times, it has to contend with increased demand for seafarers and loss of manpower to other industries, DNV’s study notes. Dr Cramer suggests “more focus on crew on board and management onshore” as a way to reduce accidents.

“The crew has to be more involved in safety and management has to demonstrate more commitment to safety,” he advises.

“In that respect, shipping still has more to learn from industries such as offshore and aviation.”