Call to action on passenger ship safety
Posted on Saturday 22nd November 2014

We’d like to request our readers to sign the online petition for the installation of CCTV cameras on the outside decks of passenger vessels. Click here. The petition was launched by Marianne Fearnside, whose 30-year-old son went missing in May 2013 on board a ferry sailing from Calais, France, to Dover, England. No enquiry was ever made in the absence of surveillance camera footage. Similar cases of mysterious disappearances have been reported over the years in the UK, the US and other countries.

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CCTV cameras on ferries: why not?
Posted on Thursday 20th November 2014

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Retired British teacher Marianne Fearnside has been waging a protracted battle for the mandatory installation of CCTV cameras on passenger decks. We understand her agony and have, upon her request, signed the online petition she launched last year. Mrs Fearnside’s 30-year-old son, Richard, vanished whilst traveling back to Dover on 21st May 2013 from a holiday in France on the P&O Ferries-owned Pride of Kent. He was last seen going to the deck to have a cigarette.
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Life at sea hangs by a thin thread
Posted on Tuesday 18th November 2014

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The jury is still out on what caused the sinking of the trawler Ocean Way last 2nd November off the coast of the Farne Islands in the North Sea. Killed were Scottish skipper James Noble, 45, and two Filipino crewmen whose bodies have not been found – Jhunitzquo Antonio, 34, and Michael Pulpul, 38. What is clear from this tragedy is that life hangs by a thin thread for those who toil at sea. It’s a fact that many overlook or take for granted.
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IMO in love with its own rhetoric
Posted on Friday 24th October 2014

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Detail of 1889 Italian fresco, Cicero Denounces Catiline

IMO officials should slow down on the rhetoric. Speaking on 20th January 2014 at the opening of the first session of the Sub-committee on Ship Design and Construction, Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu declared: “I have my targets to eliminate piracy and reduce maritime casualty by half and I will maintain these targets this year as well.” Honestly speaking, we didn’t know that IMO has been leading the anti-piracy campaign. As for maritime accidents, isn’t Mr Sekimizu being overly ambitious?
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Maritime espresso shots on Facebook
Posted on Wednesday 22nd October 2014

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Although Marine Café Blog has gained a pretty wide readership since it started in August 2009, we sometimes find it necessary to amplify our views on various maritime subjects. What better way to do so than through social media? Below are some digital picture cards we’ve recently shared on Facebook. They contain aphorisms based on our blog posts — the equivalent of espresso shots, served hot and strong.
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Four obstacles to Filipino STCW reform
Posted on Monday 20th October 2014

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After four inspection visits over an eight-year period, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) team must be wondering why it’s been so difficult for Filipinos to put their house in order vis-a-vis the STCW Convention. We ourselves have long ceased to wonder. Four main factors stand in the way of deep and lasting reforms.
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Today’s sailors, hooked on technology?
Posted on Wednesday 15th October 2014

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Book frontispiece of The light of navigation, 1608 sailing handbook

The sailors of old relied on the heavenly bodies to navigate using instruments that seem primitive by today’s standards – compass, hourglass, celestial globe, jacob’s staff and mariner’s astrolabe. Back then, it was seamanship that mattered most, not technology. How times have changed!
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EU ruling on Filipino crews is overdue
Posted on Sunday 12th October 2014

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This month, inspectors from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) once more visited the Filipino seafarer factory. They had previously conducted inspections in 2006, 2010 and 2013. So it’s their fourth time to check if the world’s top crew supplier is conforming to the STCW Convention. This cannot go on forever. The European Commission has to decide finally on whether or not to continue recognising, for the standard period of five years, crew certificates issued by Manila.
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Celebrating maritime paintings of old
Posted on Friday 10th October 2014

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It’s sad that maritime art has not received from the maritime press the attention it deserves. We aren’t surprised, though. The shipping industry itself is too preoccupied with money to care much about such things. And yet, the great marine painters of the past have bequeathed to the world a huge treasure that ought to delight and ennoble the human spirit. People only need to look.
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Skewed path to Filipino STCW reform
Posted on Wednesday 8th October 2014

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Forget the babbling critics in Manila. Republic Act No. 10635, which gives the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) sole authority over matters concerning the STCW Convention, is a desirable and necessary piece of legislation. Where in the world can you find several state agencies handling seafarers’ affairs? Unfortunately, the 47-page Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the new law approved last March are not only seriously flawed. They could well open the doors to corruption.
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Chalking up points under MLC 2006
Posted on Thursday 2nd October 2014

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Genuine empathy toward seafarers and respect for their rights are things that cannot be legislated. Even so, we’re pleased to note the signs of progress in the enforcement of ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. According to a DNV GL analysis, a total of 160 ships were detained by Port State Control for serious breaches of MLC 2006 during the first year of implementation (from 20th August 2013). That means one ship detained every two days or so.
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The irony in World Maritime Day 2014
Posted on Friday 26th September 2014

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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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