Young people are being encouraged to enter the profession of seafaring, as the world pays keener attention to the essential service provided by seamen and seafaring women during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dean of the Faculty of Marine and Nautical Studies at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), Captain Devron Newman, explains to JIS News, the process of how seafarers are produced from a maritime education and training perspective.
Captain Newman says that in Jamaica, the journey begins with the applicants being accepted at the CMU to be trained as a deck officer or a marine engineering officer, and this initiation process requires that they spend two weeks of indoctrination.
At that time, he says, the new recruits will learn the rudiments and theory about how the programme will be run, the type of discipline that is required, the required grooming of themselves and naval etiquette.
He points out that they are required to pass an interview, complete an academic entrance examination and a medical that is established by the standards within the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), specifically related to seafarers.
“Once they have gone through all of that, they are accepted in the programme to pursue one of the disciplines, and that pretty much takes them through four years of academic studies,” Captain Newman explains.
Dean of the Faculty of Marine and Nautical Studies at the Caribbean Maritime University, Captain Devron Newman, addresses a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on June 24, to outline activities for the Day of the Seafarer, which will be observed on Friday, June 25
The Dean says that the programme largely involves a combination of the international standards required for the training of seafarers, coupled with other supporting knowledge subjects, such as Port Management, Logistics and Supply Chain Management and French or Spanish, “so they become well rounded by the time they are ready to go to sea”.
After they have completed their studies, the students are required to complete 12 months at sea as cadets, which is an international requirement.
Captain Newman explains that once they have completed the 12 months at sea they are then required to write their professional exams.
These exams, he says, are established by the MAJ, which is the standard-bearer for the industry.
“Upon completion of the exams, if successful, they will be issued with a certificate of competence, so now they are ready to board the ship as a junior officer,” Captain Newman points out.
“On board the ship, we have a structure. We have levels that dictate the positions that you hold on board. We have management-level officers, which would include our captain, chief engineer, chief officer and second engineer officer,” he adds.
The Dean further explains that the officers that are trained by CMU begin at the operational level, “which is where our new officers would begin, where we have our second officer, third engineer, fourth engineer and our third officer and then we have support-level crew”.
These individuals provide support to the officers; however, the CMU does not focus on that kind of training.
“Our main focus is to train officers. Once they have completed the mandatory 12 months at sea as an officer at the operational level, then they can graduate and come back to the University to upgrade themselves to become management-level officers, if they want to become a captain or chief engineer,” Captain Newman says.
He admits that the profession comes with its fair share of challenges; however, the rewards are good.
“You develop good discipline as to how you would lead your lives and manage your families, so the career is very rewarding, and we are happy at the CMU to have been able to train and impact the lives of so many youngsters. We want to continue to encourage youngsters to venture into seafaring, which is a very good career. It is very promising, it is very rewarding and it pays off,” Captain Newman says.
Meanwhile, Director General of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), Rear Admiral Peter Brady, who had the benefit of both naval and merchant ship training, says that he enjoyed his seagoing experiences immensely.
“In those days the sea was just an adventure. I just loved the sea, loved ships, loved navigation. I loved the ability to take the elevation of the sun, the stars and so on, do a mathematical sum and come up with a position on a ship somewhere out in the Atlantic,” he says.
Director General of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, Rear Admiral Peter Brady. (Dave Reid Photo)
He adds that there were many more positives for him in the profession.
“The ability to visit new countries and interact with new people is one of the greatest pluses that I got, but it also inculcated in me a sense of leadership, discipline and an appreciation for working in diverse environments, and for me that was a great plus,” he tells JIS News.