THE EDITOR: We have around 100 vessels working these water that are between 100 to 500 tonnes. That means 200 captains and 200 mates and 200 engineers. You must also include cooks, deckhands and AB’s – I don’t know the total number – but I have heard that it is around 2,000. All of these good men and women derive their living from the sea.
Vessels up to 24 metres (79 feet) are covered by the Small Commercial Vessel Code. The certificates that are required to operate these vessels come under this code and are referred to as boat masters and boat engineers. This training and certification is presently available in Trinidad. These vessels are usually less than 100 tonnes but the magic number is 24 meters or 79 feet in length.
Mariners have paid a lot to work at sea. Physicals, basic safety training, medical first aid, advanced fire fighting, efficient deckhand, ratings certificates, proficiency in survival craft, Boatmaster 3 or 2 and more – just to be able to work on a boat. That’s around nine or ten weeks of training.
Schools not cheap yet employees must pay for it themselves. Companies want crew that are properly certified but they are not going to pay for training.
International law, that this country has agreed to abide by, states quite specifically that all mariners must be properly certified. There is a huge passage in the laws of TT that covers certification of mariners. The 500-tonne and the 3,000-tonne master, the 3,000 plus kilowatt engineers are part of the TT laws. There are no legal issues that I am aware of regarding this level of certification. It’s been there for many years.
UTT is concentrating on deep water certification. What this nation requires is 500-tonne master and 3000 kw engineers that receive (CoC’s) Certificates of Competence, from Maritime Services Division and the Minister of Transport. If we don’t do this we are lost. Caribbean Fisheries Training and Development Institute, as the nation’s foremost marine instructional institute should lead the way.
Please beware of third world certification. We possess the ability in this nation to produce and provide excellent world class certified mariners.