We wonder if any ship officer who’s still sailing has gladly welcomed the ever-increasing training requirements introduced in the name of maritime safety. Certainly not Jill Friedman of Houston, Texas. A holder of unlimited master, 1600/3000 master and DPO unlimited licences, Captain Friedman recently kvetched over having to re-take the Basic Safety Training (BST) course in her feisty and engaging blog, Capt Jills Journeys.
She wrote: “BST is a very basic course that is supposed to teach you what you should know before you can go offshore. Things you would know if you’d ever spent more than a couple of days (working) out there. Things like ‘what is a station bill? what is a muster station? what are the alarm signals? what do you do if someone falls overboard?, where can you find a lifejacket? how do you use a fire extinguisher?’ etc.”
“It’s really pretty sad,” Captain Friedman noted, “to have to require someone who’s been going to sea for 20 years (or even ONE year) to spend a week of their time off in this kind of class.” She’s not the first or will be the last to complain.
In Manila, there’s anger over the Management Level Course for ship officers (MLC). One officer commented on Facebook: “Why require active senior officers to take MLC for renewal of their COC (Certificate of Competency)? MLC is supposed to be for junior officers who are aspiring to become senior officers or for those senior officers who stopped sailing for more than 5 years.”
It’s not only the officers who are whining. Reacting to our blog post “A cat’s view of Manila’s manning sector“, Virginia Alviola-Arao, president of the Philippine School for Maritime and Medical Access (PSMMA), wrote: “Observe the faces of all officers taking this course. They all look the same – angry, sad, drained, confused – but they can do nothing.They are like puppets being pulled in strings to go to the left or right. When they enrolled they were informed the MLC will take only 2 months. In the middle of the training they were informed again that there will be additional 1 month because MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority) wants this.”
We can appreciate the need for training for the sake of maritime safety. But we also remember what IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu said on 20th January 2014 when he addressed the opening of the 1st session of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction: “I have my targets to eliminate piracy and reduce maritime casualty by half and I will maintain these targets this year as well.” Three months later, on 16th April, came the Sewol ferry tragedy in South Korea.
So much for safety. Many ship officers think that the mountain of training requirements is all about making the fat cats fatter. Based on what we’ve seen in Manila, they can’t be blamed for thinking so. ~Barista Uno
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