May 062010
 

Two seafarers died in the log-filled cargo hold of the TPC Wellington in Northland port, Whangerai, New Zealand. Deongchil Oh, 56, of Korea, and Thi Ha Aung, 33, of Myanmar, are two more symbols of inadequate education, training and drills and industry-wide complacency and lack of will to address possibly the most avoidable cause of seafarers’ deaths.

It is self-evident that the initial victim had not been adequately trained, did not understand the threats posed by the cargo of logs, and that appropriate procedures were not followed. He died.

It is self evident that the officer who tried to save him was not appropriately trained, was not aware of the vital need to use right equipment, had not been appropriately drilled.

It is self evident that the third person into the hold, and the second would-be rescuer was not appropriately trained, was not aware of the vital need to use right equipment, had not been appropriately drilled.

Nobody knows with precision how many seafarers die because of the lack of will to address the issue. Figures produced by the Maritime Accident Investigators International Forum, MAIIF, underestimate the numbers because the largest flag states, those who vessels hire the majority of seafarers are too incompetent to work out how many seafarers die on their ships and lack that sense of humanity that would demand that they find out and try to fix the problem.

In few other industries would such a disgraceful lack of concern for human life be considered acceptable.

These deaths are the shipping industry’s shame, an industry which complains about the shortage of  quality recruits. Maybe the first step should be better quality flag states, better quality shipowners and a better quality industry.

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