SUNBIZ

Cadets Reminded Of Roles, About Taking Responsibility

MAHESA ABEYNAYAKE Head of Quality/ Management Representative/Consultant Marine Engineering Fiji Maritime Academy One grey and overcast morning, the vessel sailed quietly into the Turkish Port of Ambarli. It was supposed
08 Feb 2017 11:00
Cadets Reminded  Of Roles, About Taking Responsibility
Students at the Fiji Maritime Academy.

MAHESA ABEYNAYAKE
Head of Quality/ Management Representative/Consultant Marine Engineering
Fiji Maritime Academy

One grey and overcast morning, the vessel sailed quietly into the Turkish Port of Ambarli. It was supposed to be a routine stop to unload a few tonnes of bulk tea.

The crew members were happy to see land after a long voyage and had planned to stretch their sea legs later in the evening after the discharging of cargo.

In the pre-container ship era, cargo was carried in the ship’s hold mostly packed in hessian or canvas bags.  After discharging the cargo, one of the jobs for the crew was to sweep the hold to rid the area of the residual dusty tea particles.

The Chief Officer, who was on his honeymoon with his new bride, supervised the operations and was keen to show her the sights of historical Istanbul later that day.

Just as they were about to disembark for a well-earned shore leave, the local authorities swooped on the ship arresting some of the crew and the Chief Officer.

It appeared that some shore cargo workers had been detained at the gate with some of the tea sweepings from the hold.

When questioned they had indicated that the ship’s crew had sold the tea to them.

The ship’s Captain found out a day later that the Chief Officer and the crew had been tried and sentenced for seven long years in a Turkish jail.

Having contacted the ship’s company, the Captain was advised to set sail. With a distressed Chief Officer’s new bride aboard, the vessel returned to its home port.

The Chief Officer and the crew spent three years of the sentence before returning to the motherland.

This is an exceptional tale of a tragedy, an example of unexpected events that can happen in a foreign land.

If you break the law of the land, seafarers find themselves arrested, and even jailed.

 

MESSAGE TO MARITIME CADETS

Firstly, it is noted that when an officer is in charge of crew members, that he or she must take responsibility for what happens on the ship when they are in command.

It’s something we try to enforce with our Cadets at the Fiji Maritime Academy. When you are an officer, you carry the responsibility of your position, the ship, and the crew.

Secondly, anytime someone sails into a different country’s port, whether on a ship, a yacht or any other vessel, the rules of law are not the same as the home port, and you will need to do some homework.

However weird they may be, each country has its own set of rules, with some countries sporting more relaxed regulations while others are stringent, with tough penalties for getting it wrong.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

There are countries with strict religious laws that seafarers must be aware of especially when they stroll ashore.

Females must cover their heads in some of the Islamic ports. There have been occasions where foreigners have been arrested and thrown in jail just for urinating in public places.

Carrying parcels on behalf of others is also a common pitfall as sometime they contain forbidden substances. You must also make sure your travel documents and certificates are valid. Although it may be the shipping company’s responsibility, it is a good idea to make sure they are up to date.

Due diligence and personal awareness could very well avoid you a major disaster in a foreign port.



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