BIMCO VP Speaks at Quality Shipping Conference

Tuesday, July 16, 2002
At the recent Quality Shipping Conference, BIMCO predicted that a shortfall from the present 16,000 officers may grow to 46,000, or 12 percent of the total work force, within 10 years time unless a marked stimulation of both recruitment and training takes place, assuming that the recruitment levels of today are maintained. In particular, BIMCO believes that the trainee rate needs to be stepped up to a recommended level of 1 in 7 officers, or about 1.5 trainees per ship. Referring to the groundbreaking study BIMCO and the International Shipping Federation (ISF) conducted in 1990, which was the first of its kind, and recently updated, BIMCO's vice president, Bjarne Tvilde, who spoke on behalf of BIMCO at the Conference, said that "it is clear that while the past may have seen some fairly dramatic reductions in crew sizes per ship, we are reaching the end of this process." He went on to say, "so, while the replacement of old, labor intensive units will lead to some manpower economies, it is believed that the new ship of five or ten years hence will probably have a crew much the same size as that of a new ship today". In addition, the industry is continuing to see startling changes in nationalities and hence in areas of recruitment. "Individual companies and even countries where there has been a large scale switch of personnel from OECD countries to say, Philippine or Indian crew sources, illustrate this change most dramatically but viewed over the whole industry, the change has been, we believe, much more evolutionary," Tvilde said. The themes of the Conference, which was organized by the Danish Maritime Authority and held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from July 10-11, 2002, dealt predominately with the issues of how to create and sustain a safety culture, the effectiveness of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code and Standards for Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention, new technologies, and the question of competent seafarers in the future. BIMCO's Bjarne Tvilde recommended that, when establishing a safety culture, necessary standards be set and the policies and directions required be issued. Tvilde went on to describe a safety cultures a one that "cares for human life and health; protects the environment, and preserves an asset". Tvilde suggested that there are three very good reasons to establish a safety culture. The first, to create a safe and attractive working environment in order to attract and maintain a staff of well-trained, qualified, and motivated seafarers and shore staff. The second, to improve operational efficiency through a safer and more efficient operation and the third, by optimising earning potentials. A safe and efficient operation, said Tvilde, "reduces injuries, accidents and damages while improving the company's reputation and decreasing the cost of off-hire and insurance". To develop a safety culture, Bjarne Tvilde recommended, establishing a human resource management program with goes beyond statutory requirements, ensures proper communication and information and, most importantly, actively involves the crew; establishing pro-active learning systems in order to actively monitor and learn from, for instance, near miss accidents; and breaking the cultural barrier by understanding how to benefit from cultural differences and by working together ashore and onboard. Tvilde said that, in his opinion, these factors present the biggest challenges ahead of us within the human element.
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