Govt relaxes norms to tackle shortage of marine officers

Govt relaxes norms to tackle shortage of marine officers

Bangalore: A dearth of officers has led the maritime regulator to recently lower the eligibility bar that includes shorter training periods for those with higher academic qualifications.

The Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) has now allowed graduates to directly become second mates (officers) in ships by undergoing a six-month pre-sea training and a minimum 15-month on-board training, besides taking prescribed written and oral examinations. Earlier, Class XII graduates with a minimum of 60% marks in physics, chemistry and mathematics underwent pre-sea training for a year and on-board training for 18 months before taking the exams to be eligible for the same position.

“This will help generate qualified officers in a shorter period without any compromise on the quality and standards of competence,’ said J.S. Uppal, deputy nautical advisor to the Government of India and senior deputy director-general of shipping (technical).

“For people with higher qualifications, the regulator has given concessions by reducing the duration of pre-sea and ship-board training," said M.C. Yadav, director of training at Mumbai-based Foreign Owners Representatives and Ship Managers Association.

Science graduates with a minimum of 50% marks from a recognized university, those with B.E. and B.Tech degrees from institutions recognized by the University Grants Commission, and those who have obtained 50% marks in a 4-year Bachelor of Fisheries Science (Nautical Science) course conducted by the Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training and affiliated to a UGC-recognized university will now be eligible for the scheme.

All candidates must also have at least 50% marks in English either at Class 10, Class 12 or undergraduate levels. The new notification also specifies that graduates must be under 25 and need to be sponsored by Indian shipping companies, or recruitment and placement service providers registered with the DGS.

The gap in officer shortage in global shipping is likely to grow from 10,000 to 27,000 in a few years as owners buy more cargo ships, according to the Baltic and International Maritime Council, the world’s biggest private shipping organization.

“With a record number of new ships expected to start operating in a couple of years, the entire shipping industry is in for a very big problem if the crew crunch is not tackled immediately," said S. Hajara, chairman and managing director of state-run Shipping Corp. of India Ltd, which has ordered 32 new ships worth more than $1.8 billion (Rs9,000 crore).

India supplies about 82,000 (6%) seafarers to the industry, including about 26,900 officers and 55,000 general purpose staff. “In order to reduce the lead time to produce such qualified officers, it is necessary that horizontal induction from available human resources takes place at higher academic level qualification," Uppal said.