InterManager investigates minimum manning levels

InterManager investigates minimum manning levels

Oslo: Following its meeting in Oslo last week, InterManager, the international trade association for in-house and third party shipmanagers, has set its sights on examining two key areas which could have significant benefits for the shipping industry.

First in its list of priorities is an investigation of minimum manning levels for different types of vessels trading on different trade routes and carrying different cargo types to determine whether and how these need to be reviewed, better understood for their implications to safety and efficiency and then discussed at flag state level to take into account required rest hours as set under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

The rules currently in place stipulate the minimum number of personnel needed to move a ship safely from one port to another. InterManager is concerned, however, that these rules were not just meant to set a crew complement number but were intended to also serve as a mechanism to improve overall operational status. Given today’s operating realities, this may not actually be what is happening. InterManager’s executive committee agreed to engage with industry stakeholders to consider how best to ensure sustainable and safe manning levels, taking into account the current operating and legislative environment, onboard administrative burdens and fatigue issues.

A second important area that InterManager also intends to examine is the issue of ‘the paperless ship’ and work to draw up guidelines aimed at reducing the amount of paperwork officers and their crew have to undertake while at sea. Executive members are keen to seek ways to reduce this burden and improve the flow of form filling between the ship and shore.

Gerardo Borromeo, InterManager president, said: “Managers are concerned that these previously agreed minimum manning levels may not be properly reflective of today’s marketplace. For example, a VLCC calling at seven ports a year may have a minimum manning level of 18 but a smaller chemical tanker, calling at over 100 ports in the same period may be required to operate with a much lower crew complement of say 12. This has concerning implications when you consider the number of ports such a vessel may be visiting in a very short period of time.

“We want flag states to look at each vessel type, the cargo it is carrying and the voyages it is on and to set up and agree on legislation to ensure there are always sufficient people on board to operate that vessel safely while catering for the necessary rest hours. We, of course, need to be realistic in approaching this issue as it involves not only safety and efficiency, but economics as well.”

He added: “The burden of administrative tasks falling on seafarers in today’s shipping industry is significant. Industry surveys have indicated that the volume of red tape is one of the factor’s adversely affecting recruitment. InterManager aims to improve this situation not just for today’s seafarers but also for tomorrow’s.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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