Bangladesh Marine Academy Golden Jubilee
25 June 2013
Speech by Koji Sekimizu,
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Permanent Secretary, Commandant, cadets, academy staff members, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you today as you celebrate such a significant milestone in the history of this excellent institution.
In the 50 years since the Bangladesh Maritime Academy took its first influx of new cadet trainees, it has established a strong reputation for producing a consistent stream of diligent, conscientious, capable and highly-qualified personnel for the shipping industry.
This has not happened without a great deal of foresight, planning and sheer hard work from a large number of people: from politicians, to the Academy staff and, indeed, to the cadets and trainees themselves. My thanks and congratulations go to all of you, past and present, who have contributed to the Academy’s proud history.
You cannot survive and prosper for such a long period without being aware of change, and being able to respond to the challenges that come with change.
In the very early days, the challenges facing the Academy were concerned with matters such as funding and the construction of the facility. Later came other challenges as Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation in its own right.
All of these were met, and today we see a thriving institution ready to face the fresh challenges that lie ahead as we enter a new era for the world and a new era for shipping.
Throughout the lifetime of the Academy, there has been a constant need to keep pace with developments in the practice and operations of shipping. The advent of containerized cargo, the introduction of VLCCs, the huge growth in size of ships of all types, automation, one-man bridge operation: these are just a few of the game-changing developments since the Academy was formed.
At the same time, the regulatory regime has become increasingly more demanding and more effective. Many IMO conventions and other measures have been adopted and entered into force, and together they have served to make shipping safer, more secure and more environment-friendly.
The modern ship’s officer needs to be far more than a navigator or an engineer, and the modern ship’s crewman needs to be far more than a manual labourer. A modern ship is a highly technical workplace, which means that, as well as a highly advanced technical skillset, shipboard staff now also need to be fully conversant with management and communication skills, I.T. knowledge, budget management and so on.
The Academy has continually developed and evolved its training offerings in order to meet these changing demands. The initial pre-sea cadet training, designed to enable trainees to join ocean-going ships as deck or engineer cadets, has been supplemented with various post-sea and ancillary courses. IMO Model courses have been introduced to the curriculum.
Coming right up to date, the Bangladesh Marine Academy today provides a first class educational environment with facilities to match. The introduction of various simulators has helped to meet the challenges of the new era following the adoption of the STCW Convention, and the Academy is now busy implementing the new requirements of the Manila amendments.
The Bangladesh Maritime Academy has played an important part in putting Bangladesh on the “White List” of countries properly implementing the STCW Convention.
In producing so many trained and competent seafarers, you have also helped to maintain a labour resource on which the world depends – even if most people do not realize or understand it. In this regard, it is a fortunate coincidence that today also marks the third international Day of the Seafarer, an event formally recognized by IMO and the United Nations and celebrated all around the world.
On the Day of the Seafarer, we aim to place seafarers at the forefront of global awareness, to ensure that they receive the thanks and recognition that they truly deserve. Global trade depends on a safe, secure and efficient shipping industry; and, in turn, the shipping industry is dependent on seafarers to operate the ships that carry the essential cargoes we all rely on.
People within the maritime sector are familiar with the role of the seafarer. For shipping companies, seafarers are the embodiment of their business and they are a critical asset.
However, even they may not be completely aware of the sheer scale of effort that seafarers expend, and the physical and psychological challenges that they face. On the Day of the Seafarer, we can take the opportunity to highlight seafarers’ importance and to thank them for what they do.
Today, a number of factors are combining to make ships more complex and sophisticated than ever before. Environmental pressures, the need to operate at optimum efficiency in difficult economic times and the quest for sustainable development, are all factors which raise the bar with respect to the skill levels of sea-going personnel.
Looking ahead, the human element in shipping will be seen as increasingly important, not just for the commercial success of shipping companies but also as the industry moves towards ever-higher standards of safety, environmental protection and sustainability. It is the seafarers who will bring the new objectives into solid actions. It is on seafarers that the industry and all of us will depend for our daily lives and future prosperity.
All of which makes the importance of training and education for the ships’ crews of today and tomorrow greater than ever before. We must ensure that standards of training and certification, on the one hand, and quality of manning, operation and management, on the other, are equally high.
However, recruiting and retaining seafarers has been a challenge for the shipping world for some years now. A shortfall of seafarer recruits, below the number required to sustain the industry, has long been predicted.
If the global pool of competent and efficient seafarers is to meet future demand, then seafaring must be presented to younger generations as a viable career choice. In Bangladesh, this certainly seems to be the case. Every year, this Academy receives around 7,000 applications from young people who want to study here for a career at sea. From those, the 295 selected are indeed the lucky ones; and I am delighted to note that a certain number of those places are specifically reserved for female cadets, something that is very much in line with the United Nations’ – and IMO’s goals for gender equality.
It is, of course, highly beneficial for seafarer recruitment that many of the skills now needed for a job at sea are also highly transferable to a continuing career ashore. Indeed, there now seems to be a greater awareness that, after a seagoing career in a responsible and demanding job, there are many opportunities ashore in related industries that rely on the skills and knowledge of those with seafaring expertise, and this is certainly a cause for encouragement.
It is, therefore, vital that those of you responsible for training current and future generations of seafarers ensure that the necessary skills are developed and practiced for the future well being of the shipping industry as a whole. This has always been your main goal and your biggest challenge.
For the past 50 years, the Bangladesh Maritime Academy has been meeting that challenge with great skill and has achieved excellent results. I am delighted that I have been able to share this golden jubilee celebration with you, and I have no doubt that your record of success will continue for the next half century, and beyond.