Ship managers should put in place sensible contingency plans to guard against a worst-case scenario should Filipino officers potentially find themselves banned from working on EU-flagged vessels. This follows concerns raised by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) over the ability of the Philippine Maritime Administration to fully and effectively implement all provisions of the STCW Convention.
This call by InterManager is intended to put perspective on anxieties about what the EU may ultimately decide with regard to the results of EMSA’s most recent audit of the Philippines in October 2013. Meantime, the Philippine Government and industry representatives are working hand-in-hand to rectify original EMSA findings and Philippine sources are confident this continuing effort and work in progress will achieve the desired results for all stakeholders.
To mitigate the immediate impact of any possible ban that may be promulgated by the EU, InterManager is calling on all ship managers to ensure their Filipino officers have extended the validity of their CoCs prior to any ban coming into force. The EU has indicated that, if ever a ban were to take effect, this would not be levied against valid and active CoCs. By extending the validity of their CoCs, the Filipino officers are able to gain a maximum five year period of grace. Should the EU ever implement a ban, a subsequent resolution may likely be found within the five year grace period. Georgia, which has recently been subjected to a similar ban, resolved its shortcomings within two years.
Owners and managers should also look to hold discussions with various Port State Control MOUs to extend this five year window to Filipino officers serving on non-EU flagged vessels which may call on EU ports.
Industry discussions are currently underway with a number of countries such as the UK, Norway, The Netherlands and Belgium, to allow their recognised schools to assess cadets for their CoC, so allowing those cadets to qualify onboard EU-flagged ships.
InterManager President Gerardo Borromeo said: “The message we are giving out as responsible ship managers is that our primary duty is to ensure that ships continue to sail safely and efficiently, which means we will put the right people onboard these ships and, in the case of Filipinos, we will work with the right crewing institutions and entities to ensure these officers are properly trained and certificated.”