Visit to sail training ship "Nadezhda" and Admiral Nevelskoy Maritime State University, Russian Federation

Visit to the sail training ship "Nadezhda" and Admiral Nevelskoy Maritime State University, Russian Federation

17 September 2017
Speech by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me say what an absolute pleasure and honour it has been both to visit this prestigious state university and especially to encounter the beautiful sail training vessel, Nadezhda.

This elegant and iconic tall ship is a clear reminder of how romantic and evocative the sea can be. I am told that her name means “good hope”. Well, speaking as someone who can get excited by a bulk carrier, she certainly gives me “good hope” that new generations can be inspired to see seafaring and the maritime world in general, as more than just a job, but rather a vocation!

And that’s important – because today’s world depends on a safe, secure and efficient shipping industry; and shipping depends on an adequate supply of seafarers to operate the ships that carry the essential cargoes we all rely on. And, despite all the recent interest in autonomous ships, that isn’t going to change in the immediate future.

But an adequate supply of manpower cannot be taken for granted. The most recent industry statistics said that, in 2015, there was a supply shortfall of some 16,500 seafarers; and that, alarmingly, this would grow to nearly 100,000 by 2020.

This represents a serious challenge for shipping. Clearly, the industry must make further efforts to bring new generations into the profession of seafaring. Seafaring must appeal to new generations as a rewarding and fulfilling career.

Today, more than ever, seafaring is a job that demands highly trained and qualified personnel. 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 ever higher levels of safety are all factors which raise the bar with respect to the skill and competence levels of seagoing personnel.

Modern ships are designed and built to the highest technical standards. The emphasis must, therefore, increasingly be on ensuring that standards of manning and operation are equally high.

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 mere worker. A modern ship is a highly technical workplace operating on the tight margins of commercial viability – which means that, as well as a highly-advanced technical skillset, shipboard staff now also need to have management and communication skills, IT knowledge, and be able to handle budgets and so on.

All of which places special demands on maritime education and training. It must be of high and consistent quality, throughout the world. It also needs to be skills-based, competence-based and to utilize the latest technology – simulators reflecting modern ships and up-to-date bridge layouts, for example.

And the concept of maritime education and training goes beyond seafaring. Like the industry itself, maritime education implies broad coverage: naval architecture, marine engineering, maritime law and many other fields all need specialist training. The range of topics covered in the degree courses at this university reflect how broad-based maritime education is today: ‘economics’, ‘management’ and ‘logistics’ are perhaps not so surprising but ‘psychology’ and ‘social and cultural activities’ clearly demonstrate how diverse the modern shipping world has become

IMO has a long and wide-ranging involvement in the human element of shipping: maritime education and training are an important part of the Organization’s mandate and work.

As you know, the basic requirements for seafarer training on an international level are contained in IMO's International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers – known as the STCW Convention. This was adopted in 1978 as the first internationally-agreed convention to address the issue of minimum standards of competence for seafarers.

The Convention and Code have been periodically revised and updated to clarify the standards of competence required and to provide effective mechanisms for enforcement of its provisions, and a  comprehensive review in the adoption of the Manila amendments in 2010.

These amendments, which entered into force on 1 January 2012 and completed their transition period at the beginning of this year, ensure that enhanced standards of training for seafarers are in place now, and for years to come.

In this context, I am pleased to note that The Russian Federation submitted its 2nd cycle report of independent evaluation under the STCW Convention, which was evaluated by a panel of competent persons. The positive outcome of the evaluation was reported to MSC 96, which confirmed that the Russian Federation was in compliance with the STCW Convention.

And this compliance takes on additional importance in the context of all the other IMO measures that address maritime safety and environmental protection. Because, although implementing IMO measures is, ultimately, the responsibility of the Member States (supported by the industry) – on a day-to-day basis, effective implementation often comes down to seafarers themselves. Working at the "sharp end" of shipping, it is seafarers who have the responsibility to put into practice what the various guidelines, codes and recommendations specify; and the key to this lies in education and training.

The value of good education and training cannot be overstated. Time spent learning is never time wasted; and, in the maritime world, the need for high-quality, well-educated and competent people at all levels and in all sectors is as great as it has ever been.

Establishments such as this are vital for the continued supply of well-trained and highly-qualified people required to sustain the shipping industry as it serves the needs of a growing global population.

Maritime training establishments must look to become centres of excellence, embracing the very latest in maritime science and technology and marine information technology as well as the more traditional skills.

It is no exaggeration to say that the safety and security of life at sea, protection of the marine environment and over 80% of the world's trade depends on the professionalism and competence of seafarers.

Looking ahead, in the medium term at least, 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 impact and sustainability. It is seafarers who will translate the new aspirations in these areas into solid actions.

Ladies and gentlemen, shipping today is a highly technical professional discipline. It demands considerable skill, knowledge and expertise – and you simply cannot learn all that through work experience or on-the-job learning. Effective standards of training are the bedrock of a safe, secure and clean shipping industry; and they as important today as they have ever been.

Thank you.