India is a large supplier of seafarers for global ships, but China is racing ahead in training cadets to meet the future demand for trained seafarers.
Cadets need to undergo six months of compulsory training on board a ship. Most of the training happens in foreign flag ships. However, the global slowdown has led to shortage of ships leaving Indian cadets stuck without adequate training on time.
At present, Cadets and Ratings pay huge amounts of money to touts and agents to get berths on ships at great risks to themselves, said K Vivekanand, CEO, Indian Institute of Logistics, a leading maritime training institute.
On the other hand, China has built the world's largest training ship named Yu De to enable cadets get training. With an investment of Yuan 240 million, the 64,000-tonne and 199.9 metre long ship integrates the functions of training, research and bulk cargo transportation, and has a crew capacity of 173.
The navigation bridge as well as the teaching and training areas are located at the ship’s stern to accommodate 143 teachers and students at a time. It also has research rooms for navigation technology research and other scientific research activities, said Vivekanand who had spent 26 years at sea and another 26 years ashore in maritime education and training.
"China has also launched a second training ship. While we are twiddling our thumbshere, China is going full speed ahead. We also require a commercially trading-cum-training ship could to help cadets get trained on board," he told BusinessLine.
India provides 9 per cent of global seafarers' workforce. More investment should be put into ship design centre, ship research and development centre and towards development of an integrated training centre in India, said SK Das, Principal Officer (i/c), Mercantile Marine Department. Vivekanand said that the idea of a 'commercially trading-cum-training ship' was first floated at the World Shipping Forum in Chennai in February 2013 by the Institute of Marine Engineers, Chennai Branch. The vessel will operate as a self sustaining training ship to meet its training costs for 180 trainees and 20 trainers. It will also be commercially trading ship operated by an independent crew in serving cargo interests.
In July 2014, a Trading-cum-Training Vessels Committee Report to identify the right type of ships to be converted for trading-cum-training vessels and to draw a road map to operationalise the ship was submitted by the Chairman of the National Shipping Board and accepted by the Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.
The idea was to convert an Aframax tanker of about 1,10,000 dwt or a Kamsarmax Bulk Carrier of about 85,000 dwt, as a Special Purpose vessel, with about 100 training berths, 20 trainers and 25 crew, said Vivekanand.
Even though the project was accepted by the Minister, "it is at present hibernating in the corridors of the Ministry. We have no choice but to get training ships in the water as soon as possible. This is the only solution to sustain the supply of trained manpower to the merchant navies of the world from India," he said.
Source: The Hindu Business Line
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