Titanic 101st Anniversary Marked By Rising Tide Of Recent Marine Mishaps
AMERICAN OFFICERS SEEK CRUISE SHIP COMMANDS, UNDERCUT BY FOREIGNERS
DANIA BEACH, Fla., APRIL 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Today marks the 101(st) anniversary of the Titanic cruise ship disaster, which comes in the wake of a rising tide of marine mishaps, which the American Maritime Officers organization says underscores the need for increased safety, emergency response, nautical navigation and engineer repair training on commercial vessels worldwide – training that AMO officers already have.
“None of these incidents involved US flagged ships or American Maritime Officers who are documented, licensed and vetted by the U.S. Coast Guard,” says Tom Bethel, President of American Maritime Officers. It is the largest organization of professional merchant mariners.
Although many cruise ships are owned by publicly traded American companies, the vessels are built overseas, fly foreign flags and are commanded by officers from other nations who are not required to obtain US licenses but are certified by governments abroad where the ships are registered, according to AMO.
“Highly-trained Americans are not getting cruise ship commands because mariners from other nations, including crews from underdeveloped countries, are willing to accept lower wages and fewer benefits,” says Bethel. “American maritime officers want what every American wants – salaries that reflect their level of expertise, a solid pension and health insurance for their families.”
Bethel says, “Since most cruise ship passengers are Americans, I believe they would feel safer and more comfortable if there were U.S. officers in command and on the deck, especially in an an emergency.”
In most cases, recent ship collisions, groundings and sinkings are the result of human error coupled with fatigue and sometimes inadequate training. Most fires and mechanical malfunctions are due to equipment issues and improper maintenance coupled with the inability of crews to conduct underway repairs and the lack of qualified engineering officers, according to AMO.
“To solve the global shortage of maritime engineers, AMO is devising a campaign to recruit U.S. high school graduates – educate, train and place them in high paying positions on ships worldwide,” says Bethel.
Since 1949, the American Maritime Officers organization has been improving training methods – now offering nearly 80 training and certification courses at its STAR center in Dania Beach, FL. It is one of the world’s preeminent nautical training facilities. Additionally, the center operates a state-of-the-art, full command bridge navigation simulator.
“Just like an actual ship’s bridge, it is equipped with a full complement of communications, navigational and anti-collision instruments,” says retired U.S Navy Captain Philip Shullo, AMO’s Director of Training and Safety.
“The simulator’s array of vivid video projectors generate a 360 degree view of oceans, seas and many rivers, lakes and harbors, plus high-tech animated images of passing ships, landmasses, waves and various weather conditions,” says Shullo.
All AMO officers undergo simulator training, as do some foreign officers at overseas facilities but not every merchant mariner is afforded this level of training, according to Shullo.
“Navigation simulator training is essential, says Shullo. He says, “It hones officers’ command and communications skills, eye hand coordination and provides a preview of waterways on which they will sail through.”‘
Bethel says, “That while cruise ships are equipped with the most modern equipment and are constructed with safety in mind and whilst the cruise ship industry and its employees have handled many of the emergencies professionally, there appears to be a need for improvements, which AMO officers and their organization are capable of providing through training, education and job placements.
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SOURCE American Maritime Officers – STAR Center