In a hard hitting address, chief operating officer of Oman Shipping Company, Captain David Stockley has criticised training institutions for turning out officers who are "not fit-for-purpose" and "ship staff that are unable to operate and maintain their vessels," reports Edwin Lampert from Dubai.
Captain Stockley singled out “educationalists” for promoting “type specific vocations” and "diplomas and degrees that seem to have made the Master's Certificate redundant and outdated". Training institutions, he said, are fixated on the seafarer obtaining a certificate of competency. "The fact is maritime institutes are more interested in quantity than quality. This stems from the need of the establishment to upgrade their academic status to receive funds from various government organisations."
There was further ire for the promotion of computerised control systems on board ships. "Can our newly-trained crews with limited experience cope when this technology fails?" Today, he said, equipment failure often means a vessel stops until shore technicians are available. "All the major engine makers and suppliers push maintenance contracts worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars because ships’ staff are unable to operate and maintain their vessels."
Oman Shipping invests heavily in ensuring its crews overcome these deficits. "We spend about US$1.5 million on additional training of our international seafarers and have a budget of US$2 million for training and recruiting Omani seafarers. However, we still feel the need to add company requirements for onboard training and what we call 'rank step training' to bridge the gap we feel our staff have after they leave college to run our vessels to the standard we require."
Concluding he said: "It is high time the authorities took some drastic steps to give these new professionals their due respect and place in the maritime industry."
Captain David Stockley was speaking at the Seatrade Maritime Middle East technical forum in Dubai.