Over the years, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has done a laudable job by promoting safety at sea and addressing environmental concerns. The spiritual development of the seafarer has not been given much prominence even when it is realized that the loneliness in a seafarer’s life needs spiritual balm. Prior to ISPS era, the priests visited the ship and gave us soothing talk and even helped us by taking us out to town and bringing back, saving our money and providing security in transit. Father used to come with the van at Vancouver and Portland and took us out and brought us back on board after some hours ashore.
At Durban, the van started to shuttle by taking people to club at 6 pm and dropping them back to ships at 9 pm. Richards Bay has a very big club and bus used to shuttle from ship to club and back. Recently, I had noticed that everybody must do a course for designated security duties. It’s a two day course and fees varies widely from college to college (at least in Mumbai) and I can’t say how people will become more proficient. Masters and Chief Officers on board could have easily provided such kind of training and it would have been more realistic. I still recollect, we were put through training session on Dangerous goods code ship by our Croatian chief mate. He amicably taught us about classification, segregation and precautions to be taken in regard to these, which I don’t think any one of us has forgotten.
A small test was conducted and we even got certificate signed by him and the master. The material was also put as CBT in Ship’s office computer so that you can make amendments whenever you like. On a car carrier, there was a similar computer based course on safety and good practices where you even get your scores and it was popular because everybody wanted to perform better (something like karaoke). Do you think any amount of certification would have improved the behaviour of Costa Concordia Master?
Let us pitch for allowing priests a visit on board. In one of the Japanese ports an old husband- wife team used to come to mess room by carrying useful items. The husband was blind, and every crew member bought some thing from them and the cook even fed them. This depicted the kind nature of seamen. Seamen are generous persons and they love to interact. Let us provide such an opportunity to them. While crossing Magellan strait, two priests always visited us and interacted with us and provided reading material. On board visit of holy persons and on board training should now become the agenda of the IMO.