Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Cadets miss out on sea time due to pandemic travel restrictions

Published:Tuesday | October 19, 2021 | 12:05 AM

Restrictions on crew change and repatriations are impacting cadets at a time when the shipping industry needs to recruit more young people.

Crew travel problems can affect cadet training by preventing them from reaching ship placements to gain vital experience at sea, or delaying their return to continue maritime studies.

During a webinar on seafarers’ welfare, hosted by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) on behalf of Jamaica’s ministers of transport & mining and foreign affairs & foreign trade, panellists heard how the rotation of cadet berths has become a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.

Captain Devron Newman, dean of the Faculty of Nautical Studies and Marine Engineering at the Caribbean Maritime University, said delays in crew changes adversely impact some cadets as they do not have the necessary documentation, such as certificates of competency or proficiency, to prove their role as a full-fledged seafarer. The panel agreed that cadets need to be afforded the same designation as qualified seafarers and given appropriate passage to and from their ship placements.

Urging more nations to recognise seafarers as “essential workers” and allow them to travel to and from their vessels, Rear Admiral (ret’d) Peter Brady, MAJ director general, said: “There’s an absolute need for crew changes and repatriation. It is critical for them to visit their families to help their mental health, to rest, and to prepare them for their next posting.”

The panel discussion, which took place on World Maritime Day, also featured a seafarer’s point of view. Third Officer Javed Loza stressed that the mental health of seafarers was a crucial factor that should be prioritised by the shipping industry. “Good mental health makes all aspects of life onboard positive,” he said, pointing out that a positive attitude to work and life at sea can also have a beneficial impact on commercial shipping operations.