JIS News

Jamaica has made significant strides in the maritime industry and is “probably the most developed marine administration in the Caribbean,” says Rear Admiral Peter Brady, Director General of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ).
Jamaica’s achievements to date are even more extraordinary considering the country’s late involvement in the industry, as it was without a Shipping Act until 1998. The Shipping Act institutionalised the MAJ as the implementing body for the conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and the MAJ, by extension, has “academic oversight” for the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI).
“Since January 1999, when the Shipping Act came into force, we have been building up steadily. We have been recruiting people, training them, exposing them, and building up our expertise in maritime administration. We also have, as a part of the administration, the CMI, which offers courses that train people (to become masters, captains of ships, chief engineers and so on), on the Standards of Training Certification Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention,” explains the head of the MAJ.
Additionally, Jamaica, as a Caribbean country, is prominent at the IMO and usually attends all the main conferences on behalf of the region. “We now chair the STCW Sub-Committee at the IMO,” Rear Admiral Brady continues.
Jamaica was therefore the obvious choice to host the recent IMO-sponsored Caribbean workshop on Flag and Port State Control Inspection.
From October 6-8, 2004, the Government of Jamaica, through the MAJ, hosted participants from across the region at the workshop, which was held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
According to IMO Consultant and Regional Maritime Adviser, Lieutenant Commander Curtis Roach, the staging of the workshop was part of the Regional Action Plan, developed and approved by Caribbean maritime officials at a symposium held in Barbados in July this year. “The IMO’s Technical Corporation Programme in the region is being driven by what the region requested and proved at that symposium,” the Lt. Commander tells JIS News.
“The workshop was part of the IMO Technical Corporation Programme,” says Senior Technical Officer in the Maritime Safety Division of the IMO, Dr. Heike Hoppe, who was one of the main presenters at the training session. “We have a special Port Control (PC) programme for the Caribbean. That programme has several activities that we choose from – bookshops, seminars, training courses and participation in regional meetings,” she explains.
The objective of the workshop was to “update the knowledge of Caribbean Port State Control inspectors and also senior maritime administration officials in the latest developments in the world in relation to Port State Control (PSC) and to ensure that Caribbean Flag and PSC activities are carried out at the same standard as those of other parts of the world,” says Rear Admiral Brady.
A Flag State, as defined by the IMO, is any state that registers vessels under its flag. A Port State, on the other hand, is any country/state that has port facilities to which ships can trade.
The regions of the world have developed Port State Control Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), whereby vessels that come into any port are inspected to ensure compliance with the IMO’s rules for safety, pollution prevention and security, welfare and living condition of ships.
“Port State Control was introduced to back up Flag State Control because many of the Flag States were not carrying out their responsibilities in ensuring that the ships comply with the international rules for safety, pollution prevention and so on,” explains the Rear Admiral.
According to Mr. Brady, the Caribbean region has developed its own MOU, which is a “harmonised set of rules and standards, very much similar to those practised in the Mediterranean, and Europe etcetera, with a purpose of trying to get rid of sub-standard shipping”. Jamaica is a signatory to this MOU.
“So our officers are trained in the rudiments of the standards and the rules for pollution prevention and safety. We also check to ensure that the people who operate the ships, the seafarers, have the proper competences through certification, to operate them efficiently and effectively,” Rear Admiral Brady informs JIS News.
Thirty persons registered for the workshop, and attendees included representatives of the Paris MOU on Port State Control, who shared their latest developments and procedures in dealing with the new maritime security measures, which were introduced in July.
“The workshop was used, more importantly, as a medium for us to share information and knowledge between ourselves, among ourselves and with these advanced countries who are here helping us out,” he continues.
Participants also hailed from all the English-speaking islands in the region, and Cuba and Suriname, which are members of the Caribbean MOU.
Presenters for the workshop were drawn from the United States Coast Guard, the United Kingdom Maritime and Coast Guard Agency, the IMO and the Caribbean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control Secretariat, housed at the offices of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica in New Kingston .
“We had a presenter from the US Coast Guard, who has been helping us considerably over the last few years in building up our institutional capacities to carry out these duties of Port State Control, but also from the point of view that many of our vessels in the Caribbean trade in US waters. It is also important for us to know what their latest developments are to ensure that we conform to the requirements of the US Coast Guard Port State Control regime,” he tells JIS News.
Having attended the workshop, the participants should “feel more confident of the new rules that govern maritime security, particularly as duly authorised officers under the International Ship and Port facility Security (ISPS) Code,” says Rear Admiral Brady.
“There are certain strict standards that have to be observed both from the point of view of the port side, when the ships come alongside for these officers to check as Port State Control Officers, and before the ships actually come into port, where certain pieces of information is communicated to them, and they have to be on top of all this. So this is an area in which we feel they will come out of this workshop far more confident in carrying out their responsibilities,” he reasons.
Participants were also updated on the latest events and rules that are changing internationally, in the areas of safety and pollution prevention Rear Admiral Brady points out that the Caribbean MOU on Port State Control meets at its Annual General Meeting, but throughout the year, other technical meetings are held across the region, at various levels, be it surveyors, inspectors, administrators, or senior policy makers.

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