Department of Transport highlights seafarer wellbeing

The Department of Transport (DoT), together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), hosted stakeholder engagements in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth where industry had the opportunity to raise concerns and address issues related to training, selection and wellbeing of seafarers.
During the roundtable sessions, delegates heard that the DoT had committed to enhancing the wellbeing of seafarers by proposing to add specialised health services in vessels. Dumisani Ntuli, head of Maritime Transport in DoT, said through the assistance of the Department of Health, the health services onboard would be “beefed-up”.
“We are determined to roll out services to help elevate the health status of the seafarers, while working at sea. Psychological, medical and physiological services will help ease the burden faced by seafarers, while removed from land services. Health professionals will soon be travelling with seafarers,” said Ntuli.

Cadet program attracts attention

Industry stakeholders, however, challenged the government to rethink its cadet program in the light of the high drop-out rate as well as the lack of real opportunities that seem to actually exist for South African seafarers – many of whom remain unemployed after completing costly training.

The notion that these youngsters were being trained for failure was highlighted and debated at the session in Cape Town where honest and robust feedback delivered 10 key points to be addressed going forward.

Panellists and delegates highlighted the need for cadets to be more prepared for what they face at sea and what is expected of them under the Merchant Shipping Act. It was noted that the industry may have over-glamourised the opportunities presented by a career at sea in an attempt to encourage the youth to sign up to become seafarers.

Developing a ships’ registry

The option to address some of the issues currently being faced through the development of a more robust ships’ registry was also discussed, but represents a medium to long term solution.

Similarly, considerations around cabotage laws to favour South African manning of coastal vessels could alleviate some of the challenges being faced in placing seafarers. Maritime Review Africa

SA Training vessel SA Agulhas takes on ratings

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated training vessel has taken on its first group of 20 deck and engine rating trainees in a pilot program aimed at growing the pool of employable South African Seafarers.

this new pilot project is a first and takes on board rating trainees who are able to climb the ranks from Deck- or Engine Rating, up to Able Seafarer level through further on board training, which will enable them to eventually achieve a Certificate of Proficiency.

The ratings trainees are part of a group of 45 candidates in a pilot project facilitated by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and funded by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA).

Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, said: “As part of our commitment to address the high unemployment rate, this rating training provides a wider scope of maritime training and skills development.

“It addresses the gap for career opportunities. Young people would be able to find jobs in areas such as

“The vessel is well suited for its training role, and its recent refurbishments at the dry dock, is testimony of its strength and calibre,” Tilayi said.

By supporting the hands-on aspects of maritime training, the project partners are contributing to skills development as outlined in the South African government’s Operation Phakisa plan to fast-track the growth and development of the oceans economy.

SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said getting a project of this nature off the ground was the result of strong partnerships and collaboration, involving both public and private sector role-players and training providers.

“Special mention should be made of TETA as the funder and SAMSA as the owner of the vessel for providing this valuable opportunity for the trainees to gain sea-time,” he said.

Malcolm Alexander, TETA’s maritime education training and development practitioner, said: “We are pleased to see this pilot training project taking shape with the trainees being able to gain practical experience at sea aboard the SA Agulhas.

“The project expands TETA’s involvement in maritime sector education and training at a practical skill level and is a positive for the maritime sector and oceans economy growth.

“It also grows the pool of South African seafarers available for local and global employment.”

The next phase of the project will entail building the capacity of TVET (Technical Vocational Education & Training) Colleges to offer the training.The current group of trainees are being managed by the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and the Sea Safety Training Group. Marine Crew Services is also a partner to the project, having agreed to place trainees in their managed fleets for further training.

The SA Agulhas will be sailing along the coast to Cape Town, on charter to the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF), to retrieve data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change. Source: Maritime News

‘Autonomous’ does not necessarily mean ‘unmanned’

I was assured last week in Houston that “autonomous doesn’t mean unmanned”. The expert who offered me his wisdom is a senior player in the energy shipping sector and heads a team of techno-wizards who should know about these things. So it wasn’t an idle statement and has deep relevance for shipping.
It’s not the first time I had heard this attempt to head off one of the most divisive conversations in maritime since the whole ballast water fiasco ripped up the myth that regulators were working hand in glove with marine equipment manufacturers. Five years ago, when “autonomous” emerged from the mists to become the answer to all shipping’s problems, it was laid on pretty thickly that there would be no crew needed to oversee these connected vessels running between connected terminals, with skeleton teams of technicians in operations control centres maintaining propulsion or pumping systems simply using holograms. There would be no accommodation block, because crews are no longer necessary on board, the space created now being filled with paying cargo. The big debate then was, how were the remote technicians able to do more than play computer games when they had no experience of life at sea? The implication of such a question was that autonomous or, to be more accurate, remotely controlled shipping did indeed mean “unmanned”. But there has been a softening of stance among the experts, in line with a great deal of rethinking among the autonomous commercial airline and ride share enthusiasts. Human error is still regarded as the number one cause of accidents and incidents in transportation but, somewhat ironically, such is our hesitancy to entirely trust technology that we think it best if humans oversee technology. A year ago, Wärtsilä conducted a series of tests on the platform supply vessel Highland Chieftain off the coast of Scotland while remotely operated from San Diego, California. I was told that the PSV’s crew were standing by throughout with instructions to take manual control if anything went wrong. So, if an autonomous ship mirrors an autonomous car in that it is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input, why would this ship need to be manned? Perhaps for maintenance, with advice from ashore, or to pounce on manual controls if the technology malfunctioned.
Rather than “unmanned” — the softened stance suggests “differently manned” — and differently manned means manned. So, in mid-2018, and in spite of the dictionary definition, when it comes to shipping, autonomous does not mean unmanned. And it will be a few more years until it does. Source: LloydslistThe