Saturday, September 14, 2013

DG Shipping solution in sight for sea-time imbroglio


Taking a firm step towards keeping its promise of helping the thousands of DNS cadets, who were left in the lurch without their mandatory sea-time training to complete B Sc Nautical Science degree, the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) is mulling options to go for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Andaman & Nicobar Administration and Lakshadweep for onboard training.

Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, Mr. Gautam Chatterjee, Director General of Shipping, said: “We had extensive discussions with different people for some time on whether we (Shipping Ministry) can have training cum trading ship where a large number of (DNS) students can be trained.”

Elaborating further about the steps being taken by the DG Shipping for reducing the number of DNS cadets waiting for the training, he added that there is a plan to facilitate an MoU between Indian Maritime University (IMU) and the respective administrations in Andaman Islands and Lakshadweep for the onboard training.

Mr. Chatterjee stated: “We are looking at the possibility of ships, which are running in the mainland- (Andaman & Nicobar) Island sector with 1, 200 passenger capacity, whether we can convert one dormitory for cadets who are put there along with some two officers to have structure training.”

“They (cadets) may not get the total training which is required for the programme, particularly cargo handling,  they may not understand it but a lot of things about ship running, especially the engineering cadets who certainly know about it because it is more or less same,” the DGS pointed out.

Now out of 18 months,  which is required for DNS or six months which is required for engineering, even a 50 % or 60 % of total sea-timing would be covered there, to that extent I have reduced the pressure on other ships,” the DG Shipping observed.

It may be noted here that Andaman administration and Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), a PSU under Ministry of Shipping, runs regular passenger vessel connectivity between Port Blair (capital of the Island) and Chennai, Kolkata and Vizag.

Likewise, Lakshadweep, located on the Arabian Sea has passenger vessel connectivity with Cochin, Kerala.

Meanwhile, officials in the Shipping Ministry are also contemplating for such a proposal (onboard training) to ease pressure on other ship bottoms, after senior mariners briefed them about the advantages of having a trading-cum-training ship.

Recently, a three-member team comprising Mr. K. Shankar, President –Shipping, India Cements, Chennai and Chairman, IMEI – Chennai branch; Capt. S. Bhardwaj, Professor Emeritus, AMET University; and Capt. K. P. Rajagopal, Vice President,  IL & FS  Maritime, gave a detailed presentation to the top Shipping Ministry officials on these lines.

According to Ministry sources, the team emphasized on the idea  of trading-cum-training ship with long term committed charter assisted by Government of India/  public sector undertaking as a technically as well as economically viable option.

They also vouched for a preliminary study involving feasibility of conversion of cape size bulker into cadet training cum trading vessel, whereas such conversion would accommodate about 180 training berths

With the DG Shipping remaining focused on helping the DNS cadets to get out their problems and complete their degree to remain competitive, it looks so certain that MoU would be a reality in the coming weeks.

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