Monday, February 11, 2013.
As a result of our Post below NAUTICAL LOG received from our European Union correspondent word that the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) will make two (2) official visits to the Republic of the Philippines this year to survey their maritime industry. This is in addition to their monitoring of the industry on a less formal basis.
For some time there has been growing concern on points which NAUTICAL LOG raised during his sea career and mentioned again in the Post below. The reputation of the STCW qualifications, known to be suspect, issued by nautical training facilities in the Philippines is at a very low ebb. In fact there is so much concern now that these visits by EMSA will secure the fate of the Philippines to continue supplying crew to sea-going vessels.
In 2014 a decision will be made by EMSA whether to continue to recognise the STCW paperwork and Certificates of Competency/Licenses issued by the Republic of the Philippines. This decision could very well be that it will no longer recognise that paperwork and in such an event the entire disgusting business of selling into bondage a sea-going labour force by the Philippines to the worldwide shipping industry will cease. Crews would still be readily available from several other nations with a strong history of previously supplying crews such as India which for several centuries manned British vessels using European Officers and Indian/Pakistani crews. NAUTICAL LOG served in such vessels for several years and they were some of the best run and maintained vessels one could wish to sail in. Currently India is busy training crews ready to mann vessels once again as they become available.
When a person decides to write a Blog they must have an interest and one hopes a certain knowledge in a particular subject or subjects. Perhaps as in the case of NAUTICAL LOG it is after they retire from our seafaring profession and are completely free to write about those subjects without having to be further concerned about going for interviews to obtain and keep a position.
It requires self-confidence to develop an opinion, write it, publish it and of course a certain ego. This ego is fine as long as it is monitored and one does not get too carried away - on occasions this will inevitably happen !!
Recently NAUTICAL LOG felt the need to write a Post which we titled COURTING DISASTER it was a serious, tough article and from the perspective of the Republic of the Philippines even harsh but truthful. To our surprise we did not get any comments protesting our point of view so concluded that it had been accepted as it was intended to be constructive criticism to raise the situation of the seafaring professionals of the Republic of the Philippines.
In the Republic of the Philippines there is a maritime Blog which seems to be widely read, it appears to be the only one known internationally. Now there are numerous nautical Blogs in other countries in which the views published may be considered just those of the writer/publisher. Not so with the one based in the Philippines and the views expressed by the writer/publisher tend to be taken to reflect the viewpoint of the Philippines maritime industry though the writer/publisher may claim they are merely their own viewpoint. There are several reasons NAUTICAL LOG believes for this; the Blog may be considered the only one, it covers all the maritime events, personalities with photographs, opinions and local maritime politics.
In the Republic of the Philippines the maritime industry is big business in which fortunes are made by charging fees, very large by local standards, to obtain a job in seagoing vessels - crewing agencies. NAUTICAL LOG detests this system however due to the large number of crews coming from the Philippines it is impossible to avoid. The government also gets its percentage from these fees and to keep the business flowing extends certain courtesies to the businessmen involved - in this one has personal experience to draw upon. The nautical training schools in the Republic of the Philippines, which are also expensive by local standards, also work closely with the RP government, the crewing agencies and some regretfully have issued paperwork which appears to indicate their students are qualified in STCW. Nothing in fact could be further from the truth as one found out firsthand when serving as Safety Officer in cruise ships. NAUTICAL LOG personally found that crewing agencies in the Philippines supplied crew quite nautically unaware and totally lacking in STCW knowledge which required we immediately had to start training them on board, to meet IMO and USCG requirements for cruise vessels, to allow the ship to sail from U.S. Ports. Sadly there seems no national shame in the Philippines as regards operating this type of selling their fellow countrypersons business and nothing was done in the Philippines when complaints were made, the agency just changed its name and carried on selling. This whole nautical mess is thus intertwined with the personnel departments of the cruise lines themselves, which must know that crew are being sent to their own vessels unqualified, into a corrupt maritime bouillabaisse.
On Saturday while reading that maritime Blog from the Philippines NAUTICAL LOG noticed a comment to one of their Posts in which the commenter wrote combining his comment to their Post with remarks about our Post COURTING DISASTER. Much to our surprise (again!) the writer/publisher replied as follows:
" Johnny: Indeed the Philippines-China territorial dispute has nothing to do with the STCW reforms discussed in this article. We nonetheless published Mr. Boucher's comment as he has been an avid reader of the blog. However, we shall in future disapprove comments that are extraneous or off-topic. The same shall apply to comments that tend to be inflammatory as such comments clearly do not contribute to a fruitful discussion."
Fascinating and as we had stated in COURTING DISASTER national ego once again blocking clear thinking. Their Blog now appears to be just for publishing Republic of the Philippines approved Public Relations propaganda and perhaps no longer worth reading.
The way NAUTICAL LOG handles comments is to declare our editorial policy clearly in the opening title of the Blog regarding compliance with DMCA, the subject matter and use of appropriate professional language. We therefore decided to inform the maritime Blog in the Philippines that we would remove them from our reading list and thus by default would never again comment on their Posts (after all we shall not have read them!). To date our comment has not been published but then we did not expect it to be just so the writer/publisher saw it and read it to decide not to publish it. Apparently politics and ego have reached such a level at their Blog that even constructive criticism is no longer acceptable to them.
In fairness after all why should they have to put up with our comments when we have a Blog of our own in which can comment to our hearts content - as we have done here and will continue to do in the future.