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The Maritime Industry in Sri Lanka


Shipping or carriage of goods by sea has played a significant role in the development of the human society over the centuries. Presently there are two major types of shipping services: shipload services, which move goods in bulk for one or more shippers; and liner services, which carry relatively small shipments of general cargo on a regular schedule for many shippers. The shipping trade continues to expand, bringing benefits for consumers across the world through competitive freight costs. Without shipping, the import and export of goods on the scale necessary for the modern world would not be possible. Thanks to the growing efficiency of shipping as a mode of transport and increased economic liberalization, the prospects for the shipping industry's further growth continue to be strong.

Shipping is the safest and the most environmentally benign form of commercial transport. Shipping is amongst the very first industries to adopt widely implemented international safety standards. Because of its inherently international nature, the safety of shipping is regulated by various United Nations Agencies--in particular the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has developed a comprehensive frame work of global maritime safety regulations. IMO is a United Nations Specialized Agency with its 169 member states that develop and adopt global regulations on safety, security, and the prevention and control of maritime pollution from ships around the world. The year 2010 has been named as the “Year of the Sea Farer” to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the maritime environment in order to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO’s work. The “Year of the Sea Farer 2010” was organized to provide the maritime community with an opportunity to pay tribute to sea farer's for their excellent contribution to the entire world in enhancing the global trade.

The “Go to Sea” campaign was established in November 2008 by the (IMO) in association with the International Labor Organization, International Chamber of Shipping, International Shipping Federation, International Association of Independent Tank Owners, International Association of Dry Cargo Ship-owners and International Transport Workers Federation to protect the rights of the seafarers and to ensure their safety, and to investigate whether they are fairly treated when ships become involved in accidents. The “Go to Sea” campaign was also launched to inspire a new generation of seafarers by media activities relating to sea farer's, making an awareness program about promotion of sea farer training, highlight the importance of a sea farer's role, and to honor them.

There are many different types of companies involved in the shipping industry such as ship owners, managers and agents, container services and terminals, freight forwarders, and even manufacturers and exporters who have their own shipping departments and require specially trained shipping personnel. Although some positions require a degree in a certain field, the shipping industry does not generally specify particular disciplines as entry requirements. Many shipping companies provide in-house and on-the-job training including management courses and executive development programs. Others may also grant education allowances for local or overseas courses of study that will help in career development. Some companies may offer shipboard training to provide staff with exposure to seagoing operations.

In the early 1970s, with the affiliation of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation (CSC), a cadet training program was initiated on the vessel MV “Lanka Kalyani” where batches of twelve cadets were trained aboard a year. Sri Lankan youth were given opportunities to obtain Cadet ships with foreign shipping companies, and later proceeded to the UK, India, Australia, or to other commonwealth countries for their Certificate of Competency Examinations. It was in mid 80’s that the government-based NDT Cadet Training Schemes were initiated, and followed the establishment of Nautical Colleges in the Private sector. For the first time Certificate of Competency Examinations for junior officers were held in the early 90s, followed by the first Master Mariners Examination, which was held in the year 2002.

Maritime Colleges in Sri Lanka today prepare students for careers through a content- centered curriculum and a hands-on team building approach to learning. The structured communities emphasize responsible citizenship and self- discipline, while maximizing opportunities for exercising leadership. The Colombo International Nautical & Engineering College (CINEC), the Mercantile Seamen Training Institute (MSTI), and the Lanka Academy of Technological Studies are considered as the pioneer institutions where thousands of students complete their programs successfully as rated and licensed seamen. Training programs conducted by these institutions assist students with training specialists and training equipment in the field of maritime transport. The utmost measures are being taken to enhance the capabilities of maritime transport training with the multinational scope in developing countries. These programs do aim at improving the conditions of work and life of ship's officers, and increasing the ratings in seagoing vessels. The Colombo International Nautical Engineering College (CINEC) in Malabe, Sri Lanka, established in the year 1990’, caters for students to reach their goals in higher education in the field of Marine Engineering, and Management.

The maritime experience begins in the classroom with top- ranked academic programs. The Mercantile Seamen Training Institute (MSTI), which is located in a sea front in the city of Galle, creates a vibrant and active learning community and the best maritime learning opportunities and experiences for all students. The area of student programs provides support for those students through services and activities. Academic as well as social support is provided by the programs. Whether you need tutoring, mentoring, or just academic guidance, the staff is always available to assist you. Success is the number one goal for each and every student, and providing the tools and supported needed is vital for today's student. The life in the school is much more than lectures, tests, books, and studying. It is also encompasses meeting diverse people, experiencing new and exciting things, developing students personal skills, and enhancing interests or finding new ones. Getting involved with every activity will benefit students in and out of the classroom and will give them memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.

These days, learn to be good seaman calls for more than just learning to be a good Deck, Engine room or Catering hand. A seafarer has to be especially skilled in saving his own life, in knowing how to use Life Boats, Life Rafts, Immersion Suits, and all other Life Saving Appliances. All students attending upgrading programs at the MSTI participate in certain courses as part of their regularly scheduled program. Over the years MSTI has had the privilege of training thousands of Seamen, who today have advanced their studies to become Officers in the Navigation and Engine room departments. This has enabled the institute to develop programs that are success oriented, with unbeatable pass rates, as well as cost and the time efficient. The level of success has resulted from having a staff of dedicated, licensed professionals who care about the students, and are willing to work as hard as it takes to ensure each students success.

One of the main reasons I am writing this article is that growing up, I have been a part of the Maritime world. I have braved the seas with my family when my father worked as a ship captain. He is currently the manager of the Mercantile Seamen Institute in Galle, Sri Lanka, a Maritime Academy that is dedicated to shaping young men into qualified and skilled seafarers. Sri Lanka is a nation with great resources that will aid the growth of the country's Maritime Industry. This over the past years has contributed immensely to the growing economy of our motherland Sri Lanka.

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