At long last Indian seafarers who have acquired their certificates of competency (COC) from the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), Government of India can have their authentic record on the official website of the DGS which is accessible to the shipping trade and others concerned in any part of the world. Henceforth, shipping companies, manning agents and other firms who are approached by seafarers for employment can check the status and veracity of the documents produced by them as well as their validity by logging onto the DGS website.
The Indian National Database of Seafarers (INDOS) the computerized national data base, has been set up primarily to help facilitate regulatory authorities and employers of seafarers to have a quick reference and at the same time to prevent the use of fraudulent certificates. The system also provides the details of changes if any, in the COC status taking place from time to time and update real time INDOS database of the concerned Indian / foreign nationals holding COCs granted by the Indian government. The INDOS can be accessed from the website: www.dgshipping.com.
According to an official of the Indian administration, presently 2,84,337 persons have registered with INDOS. These cover the following categories of seafarers / persons:-
1) All persons including foreign nationals who hold a COC granted by the Indian government;
2) All persons including foreign nationals who undergo modular courses in India approved by the DGS under the STCW 78 / 95;
3) All Indian nationals who possess Indian continuous discharge certificate (CDC) i.e. those who hold a valid Indian passport and an Indian CDC;
The cell issuing the INDOS number to the seafarer has been doing so on-line after the change-over took place from manual to electronic mode recently. Those registered belong to 12 different categories including nautical officer, engineer, polyvalent certificated officer, deck crew, engine crew, catering department (saloon rating), G. P. crew, medical officer, electrical / electronic officer, foreign national CDC with sea service, fitter / purser, etc. and also non-seafarers.
The cell also carries out verification of certificates received from foreign administrations. So far the certificates verified include COC (deck & engine), revalidation of COC (deck & engine), watch keeping (deck & engine), dangerous cargo endorsement and global maritime distress and safety system endorsements.
On an average nearly 200 certificates are received for verification by post as well as fax from foreign administrations every month. Besides request for certificate verification received by email from Indian / foreign companies are attended to the same day. These number over 40. About the same number of requests is received by post and these too are carried out within 24 hours of receipt. There have been nearly 174 cases of fraudulent certificates that have come to light and these have been forwarded to the shipping companies for necessary action to be taken.
The initial objective of INDOS was to do away with the need of seafarers having to carry original documents while training ashore. For e.g. a second mate who undergoes seven modular courses and one competency course would be forced to carry all his original documents. Once seafarers obtain their INDOS certificate, they have no need to produce original documents for admission to courses anywhere in India. INDOS provides the necessary details. Further, in case of loss of original documents, INDOS also helps in getting duplicate certificates. The advantages appear to be limitless!