the International Maritime Organization (IMO) marked its sixth annual International Day of the Seafarer on Saturday, June 25th, 2016, We dedicate this week’s edition of Shippers Guide (the learning page of MMS Plus) to all seafarers around the world by highlighting what makes a good seafarer.
Who is the Seafarer? A seafarer is the human dimension in the shipping industry, his contribution to the safe and efficient operations of the ship, and the protection of marine environment is vital. Thus, he should be equipped with the necessary technical, physical, and emotional capabilities to face the challenges of the job on board ships.
If you plan a career at sea, examine yourself first, if you possess the following essentials to be a good one;
He must possess all the qualifying certifications from Maritime Authorities regulatory bodies of his home country including all needed Training Certificates of the position he has to assume on board the ship, travel visas of the joining country and USA if the vessel will trade the country
2.) Good and Healthy Heart
A good heart defines the character of a person; it will let him stand the stress and pressures of his job. A Healthy heart simply means to “Heal thy heart” and leave all the emotional excess baggage behind.
3.) Physically fit
All Seafaring professional needs to pass the Medical Examination from his home country depending upon the requirements needed. Some underwent the basic pre-employment exam only and laboratory test whereas others, requires comprehensive health check up including HIV/ AIDS screening test and Hepatitis A, B, C profiling.
The job on board the ship is not for those who are seeking the comforts of a tourist life at sea. On board the ship his working conditions are subject to the variable weather conditions at sea and the seasons of the countries, they are sailing to. He needs to toil hard regardless of work area be it on deck, in the engine room and in the galley. They may appear to be very generous while on vacation but the money they earns on board the ship are not obtain through a walk in the park but with blood, sweat, sometimes tears.
When working in a Cruise or Cargo Ships where the crew complement is from the different countries around the world, he should respect each other’s beliefs, culture and tradition. There is only one culture to follow on board the ship and all Seafarer must abide by it. The Companies credo, mission and vision statements became the working culture on board the ship and they should be able to internalize them, and never to compromise them at any rate. Being willing and able to adapt your behavior increases your ability to communicate and build relationships with other people.
6.) Flexible and Versatile
Flexibility is your willingness to adapt and it refers to your attitude. Versatility is your ability to adapt which is your aptitude.
Patience is a virtue. He should carry on his duties and responsibilities with fortitude and endurance knowing that he will deliver it with-in the duration of his contract. Some carries a 9months to 12 months contract on board. A seafarer must know how to live one day at a time and retain his sanity. Being patient is a trait that is morally excellent and is one of the fundamentals of a good human being. Patience can make us better people. It simply implies the ability to tolerate delay with self -control and forbearance.
8.) A role model
For those holding the Sr. Management Position on board, they must possess the skills of a good team Leader. Exemplify, we should not only know how to give orders but also learn how to follow them. The top best qualities that the crew will look upon you are: Honesty, Visionary (forward-looking), Competence, Intelligence, Good Motivator. They should be able to lead them by example.
9.) Self- Initiative
When given assignments, he requires less supervision from his immediate Sr. Officers and can deliver the assigned job well on time.
10.) High Emotional Quotient
Emotional Quotient or EQ simply means as the person’s abilities to perform under pressure, resolve conflict, and generally to cope with challenges. For a Seafarer, a high EQ is necessary because he is working with mix crew on board ships. Being away from their families and friends for some time, the negative elements of loneliness and homesickness are crippling their life at sea. You should be in complete control of your emotions. You are lucky, if they have the internet facility on board.
11.) Good Grooming
They are the sailing ambassadors of their home countries. Maintain a routine of good grooming. Carry your uniform well, have a decent haircut. What people see in you reflects the country that you came from. Always make yourself presentable. Good Grooming usually refers to a persons’ appearance. It consists of personal hygiene, tidy hair, an appropriate dressing for an occasion.
12.) Good Sense of Humor
Humor is the ability to provoke laughter and provide amusement. Life on board is routine and sometimes boring. Try to lighten up the moments on board by breaking the ice. Just make sure that it is not offensive to your colleagues.
13.) Cares for the Environment
Being at sea requires a good sense of concern for the protection of the marine species. He must be able to follow guidelines on the environmental management program adopted on board ships.
Shipping generates 500 billion USD in revenue, which is about 5% of the global economy and there are about 10,000 shipping companies operating about 50,000 ships. 90% of world trade is carried by ship, yet shipping by ship produces the lowest greenhouse causing CO2 gases, compared to other forms of transport. Seafarers are at the centre of it all.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “At Sea for All”, a reminder to the world of how and why seafarers are indispensable to everyone and not just for the shipping industry or for their own career purposes.