The trend of setting up forums is taking shape with the latest by a consortium of three entities of maritime field all based in Mumbai. Germanischer Lloyd Academy has joined hands with ISF Maritime and Offshore Institute and Marex Media to provide a platform, Forum-Maritime initially to focus on various issues of concern to the seafaring community.
Making a debut with a Seminar on ‘Port State Control Inspections – Best Industry Practices,’ Forum- Maritime sought to create a paradigm shift in the deep seated repugnance seafarers nurse toward inspections. It aimed at creating awareness among seafaring community that ship inspections and audits be approached with understanding, proper planning and documentation, which should lead to safer ships, better operating standards and not the least, monetary profits.
Getting to the very roots of Conventions instituted by the International Maritime Organization, Capt Cusrow Minocher chose to refer to the Titanic, which could be considered as a victim of attitude? He pointed out that the knowledge and practices of today are based on what happened to the Titanic. Referring to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that created havoc to the environment and property immensely. “This could have been averted if inspections were carried out regularly,” he pointed out. “After all inspection is a peer review of equipment, a document, system, code, etc., an assessment at a “moment in time” which identifies positive and negative conditions.”
The idea should be to enhance on what we already have to achieve the quality of operation. Because in shipping if we have not conducted safety measures then there can be a loss to shipping and reputation.
“If you maintain you ship to the requirements and high standards of international maritime conventions you can rest assured that your ship will be safe in inspections, free from detentions and accomplish voyages safely,” he said. “The immediate cause of the Macondo well blowout reveals that such systematic failure in risk management cast a doubt on the safety culture of the entire industry.” He advised that the level of preparedness should be of such high quality that inspections are always considered a routine matter and inspectors are always welcomed. Inspectors do not come on board to detain ships or to act as policemen.
Capt Subhash Joshi with his vast experience doing inspections and audits, gave an in-depth presentation on the port state control (PSC) inspection in the US region, the approach adopted by the United States PSC. He informed that USCG conducts both ISPS and PSC exams on targeted as well as randomly selected vessels. “If you have a sub standard ship you will have a lot of problems. The US has one of the most well administered procedures for inspection regime with a systematic approach.
He highlighted the penalty for misrepresentation and fudging the log book or other records, about vessel detention and prosecution recommended for violation of APPS and MARPOL. “Even if no oil is found a seafarer can still be sent to jail and companies fined even up to $ 37 million, the highest fined so far, for falsification of statements, records and misrepresentation to Federal Officers.” He dealt at lengths on what inspectors pay attention to and what they will inspect. He focused on areas including the galley, hospital, personal safety gear, fire fighting preparedness, navigation/communication equipment, pollution prevention, etc., which were of importance for the inspection by the coast guards. He used case studies and narrated incidents to give a graphic explanation so that seafarers knew what to expect. He presented a summary of detainable deficiencies for 128 ships detained in US in 2007, with about 44 detainable deficiencies related to pollution issues.
The panel discussion chaired by Ajoy Chatterjee, former Chief Surveyor to the government of India threw up several issues. They being that the Indian administration has the flag state quality system in place. Detentions were of two types either because of the ship being sub standard and the other being human failure or total complacency on the part of some or all persons on the ship. One should do an honest job and there is no reason trips to US should have any different way of operation. Further ISM needs to be expanded to environmental management. The workshop interestingly brought several issues faced by seafarers and helped to a great extent put them in proper perspective. The Seminar ended with the organizers promising to hold one such event every three months.