I REFER to your editorial (Oct 9) about sea safety and certification of sea farers.
As you rightly say, the PNG Maritime College is a premier training institution in PNG and it is recognised internationally by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The PNG Maritime College achieved “white list” status with the IMO in May 2001 and passed a mandatory external audit again in February 2006 in order to maintain that status.
The next audit is due in early 2011.
The college has benefited from two major infrastructure development programmes, funded by the PNG Government and AusAID to ensure that international standards are maintained.
Lecturers are a mix of highly qualified expatriates and equally highly qualified Papua New Guineans, who regularly go back to sea during college breaks to maintain their marine qualifications.
Independent assessment of the training provided by the college is critical to ensure the graduates meet the standards required for the certificate of competency being pursued.
The National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) gives each graduate who has studied for a certificate of competency course at the college an oral examination to ensure that the training has met its requirements.
The NMSA is the issuing authority for the certificates.
It is the Government’s regulatory authority tasked with ensuring that the international conventions that PNG is a signatory to, and which form part of our national legislation, are enforced.
It is crucial that the regulatory function of the NMSA is allowed to proceed unhindered to uphold our laws.
During the course of the investigations conducted on the maritime accidents mentioned in your editorial, the NMSA requested information from the college on the training and certification of the PNG seafarers involved, which the college was able to provide.
The college keeps records back to 1985 on courses and examination results of the seafarers attending those courses.
The critical issue is for shipowners to ensure they man their ships with seafarers who meet the requirements of the minimum safe manning certificate, a document issued by NMSA.
Where officers in particular are not sufficiently qualified in the position of responsibility for which they are required to fill, then the ship cannot be deemed to be safely manned.
Should any additional information be required, the college is more than happy to help the NMSA.
The PNG shipping industry is vital to the continuing growth of this country’s economy, and together with the NMSA, the PNG Maritime College continues to work towards safer working conditions for seafarers whilst seeking to ensure the protection of the marine environment.
PNG Maritime College