Looking back over 2013
As I look back over 2013 I realise that in these columns we have covered a wide range of issues pertinent to our industry. Many of these have been hugely important regulatory and safety matters, such as the Pilotage Exemption Certificate provisions in the Marine Navigation No 2 Bill and the passing of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 – better known as the “Seafarers’ Bill of Rights” – into international law.
We have commented on the many improvements made in safety of life at sea, often following on from dreadful disasters such as the losses of the Princess Victoria, Wahine, Herald of Free Enterprise and, more recently, the Costa Concordia; and assessed the changing role of the Master in today’s Merchant Navy and how life at sea is for young seafarers in the 21st Century. Although over the years the number of ships lost each year has been falling, I still sense that there is a great paradox – that despite the dramatic continuing improvements in technology, many ships are still being lost or involved in serious accidents, often with associated loss of life. Unfortunately, human error is often cited as one of the key causes for such incidents. No matter how good “all singing, all dancing” modern equipment is, it is still the case that officers require adequate and ongoing training in its use, but also – and just as importantly – an awareness of its limitations. A good example of this is the lively discussion which has been taking place on Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) and how this links into other Bridge systems. Fatigue is also often highlighted as one of the contributory causes of such incidents, but one which should be alleviated if the ‘Seafarers’ Bill of Rights’ is properly implemented, policed and enforced.
As always, we have enjoyed healthy dialogue throughout the year, and not all readers have agreed with my opinions expressed in ‘Message From The Bridge’; but what we all share is a high regard for the Merchant Navy and an appreciative understanding of the vital role it has played and must continue to play in the wellbeing of so many countries around the world.
The Sea Breezes team greatly appreciate, value and thank you for your support throughout the year. We wish you and yours a very peaceful and happy Christmas.
HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR