|Coast Guard calls for joint review of local crew competency standards and policies|
|Wednesday, 23 June 2010 12:48|
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has seen anew the need to review domestic policies on ship crew competence. In a recent report submitted by Commander Allan dela Vega of the PCG’s Maritime Safety Office, the Coast Guard Command Center has recorded seven (7) cases of grounding incidents involving passenger and cargo vessels namely M/V Pacific Cruiser, M/Y Nomad Korea, M/V Ivatan, M/V Tong Shun, M/V Sta. Filomena, M/V Super Shuttle Ferry and recently, M/V Filipina Ozamis. On the other hand, M/V Sycamore Global rammed the pier of the Toledo Power Corp. in Cebu. Said incidents happened during the months of May and June alone. Initial reports pointed to the human factor as the possible cause of the incidents.
Because of the increasing cases of vessel groundings, PCG Commandant, Admiral Wilfredo D Tamayo is recommending for the joint review of domestic crew competence standards and training policies, as well as sanctions to negligent ship officers and crew, by the PRC, TESDA, MARINA and the PCG. The PRC issues the competency certificates for all ship officers while TESDA, the Rating Certificate for non-officers, and MARINA issues the Qualification Document Certificate for both officers and crew. Tamayo added that the human element plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of vessels, its passengers and the protection of the marine environment. The said grounding incidents alarms the PCG and calls for cognizant government agencies to immediately review existing policies and sanctions to erring ship officers and crew. This is because the incidence of maritime casualties attributed to the human factor shows an increasing trend. It should be noted that most of the said incidents happened in clear visibility, fair weather condition and in an area where appropriate aids to navigation are in place. Further, most of the vessels involved have been on their regular routes where the ships’ Masters have supposedly familiarity of the area.
Tamayo further elaborated that accidents arising from human error may be attributed to either (a) Error of judgment, when the Master or other responsible crew member did not plan properly the objective of the operation and the duty Officer maneuvers the vessel without reference guidelines or (b) Complacency, when the responsible personnel is over-confident on his performance, his crew and how the operation is going on without the proper plan and monitoring disregarding basic standard procedures such as confirming positions through regular visual fixes or plotting of position in the chart or (c) Incompetence, when the personnel performing the job has no knowledge nor experience in the task that is being done. Further, lack of sleep or stress also affects a person’s decision making that results to near misses or accidents. As worldwide statistics points to 80% of accidents caused by human factor, several international conventions had been adopted to address this problem which includes the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, the ILO’s Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006 and the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) 78/95 which incidentally is being amended in a Diplomatic Conference hosted by the Philippines from 21-25 June 2010 at the PICC and participated by more or less 650 delegates from around the world.
According to Tamayo, the PCG will strongly recommend to PRC, TESDA and MARINA for the regular review of domestic seafarer competency standard and will push for rigid sanctions for erring crew, that may range from reprimand to suspension and revocation of licenses, when proven negligent or irresponsible.
Relatedly, as per statistics of the CG Command Center, forty-one (1) vessels encountered engine breakdowns or derangements at sea since March of this year. To minimize, if not prevent said incidents, the Coast Guard also enjoins shipowners to observe strict implementation of maintenance schedules to guarantee the reliability of their vessels’ machineries or engines. Tamayo added that with the start of the typhoon season and La Niña where rough sea conditions will become prevalent, engine derangements could unduly place the vessel and its passengers at risk as it would prevent a vessel’s capability to safely maneuver at sea.
Tamayo likewise cited the need to add more Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) facilities considering that the Philippines, being a maritime or archipelagic country of more than 7,000 islands has only 3 VTMS facilities located in Manila, Corregidor, and Cagayan de Oro. More VTMS facilities have to be installed in busier ports around the country to safely guide mariners as in the airport towers in the airline industry, he said.Share