This follows a regional training initiative conducted by the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which began in Suva, Fiji, on 19 September 2016.
The two-week training is intended to provide technical officers of the maritime administration with knowledge and skills to carry out inspections of ships in order to verify ship conditions and equipment; and to ensure compliance with suitable international and regional ship safety standards.
“Despite the fact that the ships plying in local sea areas, used for inter-island services or in general on non-international voyages fall outside of IMO’s remit and primary focus, safety of passenger ships have always been a matter of paramount importance to IMO,” Head of Asia and Pacific Section, IMO’s Technical Cooperation Division, Bekir Sitki Ustaoglu, said.
“This regional training is considered as a follow through activity after the 2015 Manila conference on safety of ships carrying passengers on non-international voyages,” Mr Ustaoglu added.
Domestic shipping is fundamental for inter-island connectivity and is the main means of access to and from outer islands, supporting the socio-economic needs of communities.
With around 2000 registered domestic vessels operating in the region, the international and domestic laws notably place the primary responsibility on States to ensure the ships that fly its flag are seaworthy, the master and crew are competent and qualified, and that law and order prevail on-board each vessel.
One of the most prominent obligations is for the State to ensure safety standards are applied on-board the ship at all times so that passengers and crew can travel or work safely.
Appointed Flag State Inspectors from countries are responsible for implementation of these obligations on behalf of their respective States.
“This regional training has been designed to provide Flag State Inspectors from the region with methods to conduct and report their inspections on a harmonised technical and legal basis,” SPC’s Deputy Director Transport, Thierry Nervale, said.
This will reinforce their capacity and behaviour as ship safety specialists and Flag State authority representatives,” Mr Nervale added.
The first week of the training covered tutorial sessions on relevant international and regional instruments, while the second week will focus on practical exercises with participants conducting on-board inspections, developing survey reports and entering information in a database created by them.
The outcome of the training will improve knowledge of participants on the relevant international instruments related to ship safety and pollution prevention, therefore, they should be able to implement Flag State obligations by enforcing domestic ship safety regulations, and to implement systematic methods and good practices when conducting flag state inspections.
The training ends on Wednesday, 28 September 2016, one day before the World Maritime Day, where a few of the participants will have the opportunity to join the celebrations prepared by SPC’s Economic Development Division.