The irony in World Maritime Day 2014
Posted on Friday 26th September 2014


With more than 50 international protocols now governing the shipping industry, the theme for World Maritime Day 2014 couldn’t have been more appropriate: “IMO Conventions: Effective Implementation”. It also couldn’t have been more ironic. Seafarers are still denied free online access to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and other IMO treaties that directly affect their work.
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Why & wherefore National Maritime Week?
Posted on Monday 22nd September 2014


We care about the maritime industry. We like all things nautical. And our hearts are with the seafarers, maritime women and all those who toil at sea. But try hard as we may, we can’t get ourselves to join the celebration in Manila of National Maritime Week (21st-28th September 2014). How can we celebrate when…
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They’re singing paeans again to seafarers
Posted on Wednesday 10th September 2014

Luca della Robbia’s Cantoria. Photo credit: Ricardo André Frantz

Manila is gearing up to celebrate National Seafarers Day on the 28th of September. The programme kicks off the Sunday before. Amongst other activities will be a grand parade; an ecumenical rite at sea; a seafarers’ congress; awards to model cadets; and karaoke singing and on-the-spot painting contests. It sounds like fun, but don’t count on us hieing off to the city and joining the merrymaking.
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Is there really a “seafaring industry”?
Posted on Monday 8th September 2014


We look askance every time folks in Manila use the term “seafaring industry”. It’s normal to say “banking industry” but not “bank teller industry” – although bank tellers or cashiers are in the forefront of the business as they deal directly with customers. Likewise, we speak of the “trucking industry” but never of the “truck driving industry”. There’s a “hair styling industry” but the term encompasses both labour and management components – the individual hairdressers as well as those who own the hair salons.
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Manila still far from STCW compliance
Posted on Friday 5th September 2014


Have they finally fixed up the Filipino seafarer factory? Sure, progress has been made. Not least significant was the approval last March of Republic Act 10635, which bestows on the Maritime Industry Authority the sole authority to enforce the STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers). At the very least, the new law should help streamline the system. But those who think the country is now close to complying with the STCW are wrong.
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Marine Café Blog’s first five years
Posted on Monday 1st September 2014


Our readers must be wondering why the blog has not been updated for some time. After five years and hundreds of posts, we just had to go into dry dock and take stock of things. That the blog has lasted this long (we marked our anniversary last 25th August) is reason enough to rejoice. But we’re also glad to have gained a broad international readership, including a good number of avid fans. We’ve had our share of detractors, of course.
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Knowing maritime schools by their fruits
Posted on Friday 1st August 2014

Almond blossom by Vincent van Gogh, 1890

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Does the Biblical verse apply as well to the Philippines’ marine licensure examinations? Maritime schools whose graduates do well in the tests obviously think so. It’s all grist for their advertising mill. Others, however, insist that the question of where one studied is irrelevant, that it all depends on the individual. For whatever it’s worth, here are the top placers in the marine deck examinations (written phase) conducted by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) in July 2014:
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A cat’s view of training centres in Manila
Posted on Tuesday 29th July 2014


Frankie the Philosopher Cat asked to be let out of our house when the weather cleared up after two recent storms. He said he wanted to check out the maritime training centres in Manila. He was gone for a good three days, but we didn’t mind. Frankie is so perspicacious that he always comes back with some interesting stories. It’s the kind of stuff that one never gets to read in the maritime press.
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Shocking result from Manila licensure exams
Posted on Friday 25th July 2014


At 75, Mary Lou Arcelo has learned to take things in stride. But the outcome of the July 2014 state licensure examinations for officer-in-charge of a navigational watch has hit the chairwoman of the Philippines’ John B Lacson Foundation Maritime University like a thunderbolt. Eleven JBLFMU cadets, all scholars of the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA), failed the written tests. Ironically, more than 40 regular cadets of the university passed. One of them even landed on 7th spot.
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Wherefore the Day of the Seafarer?
Posted on Tuesday 24th June 2014

Eight Bells, oil on canvass by Winslow Homer, 1886

It’s been our custom to write about the Day of the Seafarer, which is every 25th of June. How could we not? Is it possible to ignore the chorus led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as they sing paeans to the world’s mariners? And yet, we have never really joined in the celebrations. The slogans and speeches just sound too hollow to our ears. This year, we find it more difficult to celebrate for two reasons.
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Anger and despair over officer training
Posted on Monday 16th June 2014


We wonder if any ship officer who’s still sailing has gladly welcomed the ever-increasing training requirements introduced in the name of maritime safety. Certainly not Jill Friedman of Houston, Texas. A holder of unlimited master, 1600/3000 master and DPO unlimited licences, Captain Friedman recently kvetched over having to re-take the Basic Safety Training (BST) course in her feisty and engaging blog, Capt Jills Journeys.
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Merseyside maritime rocking & rolling
Posted on Friday 13th June 2014


The Beatles are no more but Liverpool, the birthplace of the English rock band, is still rocking and rolling as a hub of maritime activity. That point was highlighted this week as Merseyside’s maritime sector welcomed visitors to the Maritime, Logistics & Energy segment of the two-week International Festival for Business. The City of Liverpool is one of five boroughs comprising the metropolitan county of Merseyside in North West England.
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Sorok Short Film Festival
Far East
John B Lacson
CF Sharp
Safe Space