The global shortage of seafarers continues, despite influences resulting from the economic downturn. So all efforts for retention of seafarers and recruitment of new intakes, are as essential now, as in the past.
A shortage of seafarers however, will also result in a shortage of competent seafarer teaching staff.
Preferably, seafarer teachers will be recruited from among seafarers; but, this is becoming difficult, such that many shortcuts and ad-hoc solutions are observed, to try to overcome the shortage of qualified teaching staff.
New initiatives are required to recruit potential educators and enhance the professional expertise of those wishing to pursue a career in maritime education and training (MET). Some of the required characteristics of the maritime educator can be described as follows:
• Subject matter knowledge. The educator should hold at least the same qualifications as the trainees he/she is supposed to instruct. But the higher or more specialized the training, the more difficult it becomes to find educators holding the same qualifications as the trainees.
• Experience. Like with any teaching programme it is necessary to achieve the skills to organize a lesson, transfer knowledge and ideas and relate to people. It is essential to communicate remarks or criticism in the appropriate way. The trainees’ background, culture, personality, age, peer group, all have influence on what is appropriate and how sensitivities should be dealt with.
• Motivation. The enthusiasm of the teacher for the training programme, exercises and equipment, is a crucial element in the success of a course. He/
she should recognize the importance of the training and convey this to the students. However, instructors can be over-experienced, which could result in teaching material becoming so familiar, that the importance for the trainees, who encounter the subject for the first time, is completely overlooked. Even worse is when routine leads to de-motivation of the teacher, due to loss of a new challenge.
Where STCW puts emphasis on the qualifications of instructors and assessors,
it gives very little specific information on how this shall be achieved.
Part A, Section A-I/6 of the STCW Code requires that “Each party shall ensure that instructors, supervisors and assessors are appropriately qualified for the particular types and levels of training or assessment of competence of seafarers, either onboard or ashore.”
‘Appropriately qualified’ implies knowing the present situation on board. Refresher sailing periods are the best way to assure this. Then there is the issue of competence-based rather than knowledge-based training and education. It makes little sense if a graduate knows how to write about a shipboard operation, if he cannot perform it. The quality of instruction, therefore, will depend heavily on the experience and expertise of the staff in the training institute; which means that, despite the global acceptance of STCW, there will still be considerable differences between the various institutes and thus of the product of their educational efforts.
One of the fundamental human skills needed by those working in the maritime industry is that of changing mindsets.
At the core of Human Factors is the move away from blaming the personnel whose actions ultimately triggered the incident/accident. This change of mindset is potentially the most important skill to develop. Blaming and firing an individual(s) does not solve the problem.
It may be viewed as being quick, efficient and convenient, but the root causes are still there, on the surface or deeply buried away, forgotten or not known about. Changing mindsets also include viewing the human not as weak, unreliable, lazy and reckless, but as competent, reliable, capable and professional.
The English word Complacency means, too much self-confidence or egoistic pleasure. Some authors (e.g. Fahlgren) translate the word by the consecutive form of its basic meaning as lack of motivation, lack of discipline, lack of concentration, or feeling that somebody and/or something else will take care of the problems on board.
From the psychological point of view the meaning of the notion of Complacency represents a process of gradual change of attitudes that transforms a «good» seaman into a «bad» seaman. In this connection, the change of attitudes is caused by the influence of hierarchical authority and subordinating influence of the Company (Management). In that sense, the change into inhibition begins as a spontaneous reaction to bad communication or unpleasant environment (hierarchical relations) within which the individual(s) can feel insignificant.
Such a reaction is visible after a longer period (several years) from the way such a person/persons adapt to the circumstanmces. The way of adaptation can be seen through gradual change of personal attitudes that finally results in unconscious refusal of existing knowledge and skills.
Despite all efforts to reduce maritime accidents through improved safety measures and technological advances in navigational aids, there will be occasions oil or other harmful substances are spilled from a vessel as a result of:
- Striking a wreck or other obstacle
- Fire and/or explosion
- Failure or breakdown of machinery or equipment which results in impairment of the safety of navigation
- Structural failure
- Storm damage and ice damage
In most accidents the master, takes immediate action to ensure the safety of his crew, the preservation of the ship and to stop or limit the loss of cargo. This may also involve the operation for salvage of the ship. Salvage is a super-specialty maritime operation which is concerned with saving a vessel from being damaged further, saving her cargo, saving or limit environmental damage from a ship which has experienced an accident.
The organization which does this operation of salvage is called Salvor. As per the International convention on salvage, 1989”A Salvage operation means any act or activity undertaken to assist a vessel or any other property in danger in navigable waters or in any other waters.”
Aft: At, or towards the stern of a vessel. (Opposite to forward.)
What is the Maritime Labour Convention?
The International Labour Organization's Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 - also known as the Seafarers’ Bill of Rights – sets out the minimum rights that you should expect as a seafarer.
Every ship over 500 gross tonnage operating in international waters or between ports of different countries has to have a maritime labour certificate. This confirms that it complies with the MLC.
The MLC has been described as the first of a new generation of international labour standards “with teeth”.
The MLC incorporates and builds on 68 existing maritime labour conventions and recommendations, as well as other fundamental principles, to ensure decent working and living conditions for all seafarers.
The MLC is designed to sit alongside other regulations such as the IMO standards on ship safety, security and quality ship management (such as SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL). Where those instruments deal more with the vessel and its operation, the MLC deals with your rights as a seafarer.