November 2009

Manning Level Controversy in Norway

A new Ship Safety and Security Act was introduced in Norway in 2008, and more recently, in July of this year, entirely new regulations concerning manning levels on Norwegian ships were enacted. Even so, the Norwegian Maritime  Directorate recently approved reduced safety manning levels on a number of ferries and high speed vessels operating along the Norwegian coast.

Our view is that the Directorate has adopted decisions on the basis of incomplete information and we have appealed in every case, Norwegian Maritime Officers Association (NMOA)  Deputy Director, Ove R. Nielsen said. A number of newspapers and TV stations have carried critical reports on the manning cases.


Norway Staging A Comeback in the Cruise Sector

Norwegian authorities are working intensively to strengthen the Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS). Following a meeting of leading cruise operators in Miami earlier this autumn, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line are now indicating that they are seriously considering a change of flag.

Cruise ships flying the NIS flag will strengthen Norway’s position as a seafaring nation, says NMOA’s Director, Capt. Hans Sande.


ITF, InterManager and Norwegian Unions Unite to condemn Full City Decision

InterManager, the ITF and Norwegian seafarers’ trade unions have joined to condemn what they are calling the worst case of seafarer victimisation since the Hebei Spirit. According to the ITF, InterManager , the Norsk Sjømannsforbund (NSU), the Norsk Sjøoffisersforbund (NMOA), and Det Norske Maskinistforbund (NUME), the treatment of two officers of the ship Full City, who were arrested in Norway when it ran aground at the end of July spilling some if its bunker fuel, is “legally and morally indefensible”. The two men, Zong Aming and Qiland Lu, were expected to be allowed to return home to China but in a surprise u-turn the appeal court reversed an earlier court decision and altered their bail conditions to keep them in the country pending trial for negligence that is unlikely to be held until next year.

David Cockroft, ITF General Secretary, commented: ” the criminalisation of seafarers- the vilification of workers for accidents thay may be beyond their control – is one of the ugliest developments in shipping.

We all support the investigation of accidents, the learning of lessons from them and the identification of blame where it is truly found to have played a part, but this goes beyond that. Sadly, it appears that once again we are looking at a knee-jerk response to an incident, which, more sadly still, is happening in the country where you’d least expect it.

Capt. Hans Sande, Director of the Norwegian Maritime Officers’ Association explained: ” There is a wealth of maritime experience in Norway and we hope that some of it will find its way in the judicial process. If that happens the court case will be dropped and the normal maritime investigation processes will be free to take action unfettered by political considerations or nods to public opinion. If common sense prevails then the lessons of the grounding will be identified and learned, and the cargoes that we all rely on to sustain our way of life in every country in the world will travel that little bit more safely. If not we will once again see, not just the criminalisation of these two men, but a new generation of potential ship’s officers deciding that the job isn’t worth the risk of being unfairly pilloried that increasingly seems to come with it.”