We have been discussing topics on technology related to seafarers how the technology is helping the seafarers.
In this series of blogs we will try to walk you through the life of a seafarer,his aspirations,the world around him and the some thing about the ships and companies he works for.
In India where I hail from, even though we count as one of the biggest manpower supplying countries, the exposure to merchant navy is not that great. Most of the seafarers do not have a clear idea on what is in store for them when they decide to join the merchant navy. There are few reasons as listed below which brings young trainees to Merchant navy.
1) Lure of seeing the world
2) All the Ads about merchant navy always advertise as earning tax free salary.
3) There is no great option outside of merchant navy
4) An unauthorised agent talked him to into joining merchant navy
5) Maritime training institutes go for canvassing in 2nd and 3rd tier cities here the exposure is less and sign up the candidates for the pre sea courses.
6) The Farming now a day does not yield much (this is from the boys) and hence feel this is an alternative, most of the kids come from Farming back ground
7) Kids are not inclined to studies and feel this a career where you don’t need to study much.
8) You can start this career very earlier with minimum qualification
9) The kids see their relatives, friends living a lavish life hence decide to do the same.
10) Some kids come to merchant navy as a funding for their future studies and career outside merchant navy.
Now let’s go though each of the reasons in little detail:
1) Lure of the seeing the World-This seems to a very glamorous career from the outside and the kids see this as a great opportunity to travel around the world and get paid for it.
a) The truth in today’s world is the port rotation times are so less view the technological advancements, you get really very less time in port let alone go outside see the city, have a drink etc.
b) Some of the ports have seaman clubs inside the ports and we get just so much time to go to the seaman’s club and interact with local people and come back.
c) The security regime has also drastically changed from yester years make it more difficult for seafarers to go ashore
d) Safety management systems require strict balance on work and rest hours again making it difficult go ashore as it will affect your rest period.
e) The ports have become bigger and hence moved away from civilization and cities. With cities far away the travel time makes it impossible to have a decent outing
f) The seafarers have become more conservative in spending unlike earlier years.
g) Security Issues-Racism, robbery is a big challenge now a days going out, especially seafarers have to be extra careful as the port areas are always not that densely populated mostly.
h) Vessels trading pattern
Where then you can actually go out?
a) When the vessel is in anchorage-you know the period for sure, there is a boat service, the master and company allows you, the port has a possibility, the cost of the boat is not prohibitive.
b) When the vessel is at berth-The loading or discharge rate is particularly low extending the port stay hence giving a chance to the seafarers to go out
c) Based on vessel type-
i. Bulk carrier-again depends on the port facility, if loading or discharging with ships crane, you can get some more time. But if its shore gantry /conveyors or suction
ii. Oil tankers-smaller product tankers go to berths in the recent past, little bigger tankers from Aframax and above mostly their terminals are very isolated or better they load and discharge at sea on SBMs or STS without touching the land.
iii. Chemical tankers –again same depends on which cargo-if its edible oils or similar-then you can get berth close to port other again you are thrown out far away from cities.
iv. LPG/LNG-These vessels are again a special category with again many variations in size, only small pressurised vessel get a chance to come close to a city.
d) Dry-Docking-This is a good time to go ashore, as the vessel stays they for 15 to 20 days, if you are lucky and the vessel is for a steel renewal etc. You may get a longer period.
In summary, it’s not that you can’t see the world and this post’s intention is not to discourage kids not to come into merchant navy but to give a frank picture of what’s in store, so that you don’t see a different picture when you join your 1st ship. On the contrary we need more young seafarers to come out to sea as there is huge manpower shortages.
Self-have tried to covered the 1st point as much possible from my experience in this blog and will continue then next point in my next blog.
Please comment your experience early in your career and any special moments you cherish!