Tail wagging the dog
Once again the US tries to influence the world maritime community. Is this truly in the interest of maritime competence and safety?
Safe voyage!With the upcoming changes to the STCW convention it appears once again the US is trying to skirt the more stringent sea time requirements of other maritime countries due to pressure from State maritime academies. One just has to look around to see that the US deep sea foreign trade fleet is virtually non existent. Some US mariners are now part of the flag of convenience in the LNG trades. Is this indicative of someone who should be trying to dictate the requirements for a proper maritime education? I think not. The European nations have long had a superior pathway for entry level officers from both an academic and practical standpoint. More sea time, tougher exams and in some cases the ability to require even more sea time if examiners find a candidate lacking in some areas. This is not to say the international community is perfect particularly when you view the proliferation of "maritime academies" in many countries, either national or company sponsored. As to a "professional" education in a maritime discipline such as Naval Architecture or Marine engineering? The US has held a substantial place in the offshore area for years as well as in the drilling industry. A young person these days with a true desire to work in these areas night be better served by pursuing studies at one of the recognized universities in these particular fields. Again, one must admit, there hasn't been many world recognized developments in traditional naval architecture or marine engineering that have been developed in the US.
My suggestions? Let's see Kings Point get the needed revamp it seriously needs including a high tech live plant and a proven industry leader at the helm. Development of a realistic licensure structure and educational and training requirements for the inland and near coastal industry based on an intensive 2 year vocational curriculum fed by students who have pursued the basics of ships and engineering in maritime high schools or prep schools. Any institution in such a plan should place intensive emphasis on both simulation and live plant operations. As to the deck side, an institution should include a realistic training vessel be it towing, inland push boat, offshore DP supply vessel, etc.
The bottom line? Intensive assessment procedures at any type of institution designed to truly indicate the skills and suitability of an individual for the profession. Let's supply the people we need based on the trends of the industry here in the US. A resurgence of the unlimited deep sea shipping industry in the US is most unlikely however, the growth of the inland, near coastal and offshore sector as well as the shore based cogeneration sectors appears promising. mariners from the vocational based training sphere would fill these niches to a "T".
Photo courtesy of: Unitest