Seaways - April 2023
At the time of writing, I am in Cape Town, South Africa, having just taken part in the last of our 50th Anniversary celebrations – and what an iconic city to finish up a year of events around the world.
Captain André L. LeGoubin MNM MA FNI, President – The Nautical Institute
Following the next steps
I was last here in 1981 as a second trip deck cadet, so it’s been a while. Two things that haven’t changed are the stunning scenery and the friendliness of the people. The welcome I have received at every 50th Anniversary celebration and technical seminar I have attended around the world has been awesome. I am honoured to have been President at this time and grateful to everyone who has made my visits so special.
For many of us, the last year has been a time of nostalgia and reminiscence as we have reflected on our membership of The Nautical Institute over however many years. It has also been a look into the future with our global conference theme of Maritime Leadership in a Changing World, and we have welcomed many cadets and junior officers at our celebrations – our leaders of tomorrow. We have talked passionately about their future, but that’s the easy part. Now we must turn talk into action and ensure that our young career professionals get the onboard opportunity to learn to lead that they deserve. I am talking about getting cadets on ships and the promises we have made to help them get their sea time. Let’s now deliver on those promises.
From what I see and hear during my work, life is improving post Covid for seafarers onboard. I am hearing talk about shore leave and on-time repatriation, which is encouraging, and I hope that it will continue. But not all is back to normal yet (whatever the new normal will be) and the lingering effects of the pandemic are still being felt. Companies must listen to and support their sea going employees, for they are the ones that truly know what is happening. Globally, most countries are suffering from inflation and the price of ships’ stores is increasing, but I understand in many cases the feeding rate / per diem rate is not increasing at the same rate. In my opinion, saying it is too expensive to take stores in South America (for example) when the next port is in Asia is not an option. The cost of fuel oil has increased dramatically over the last two years, but bunkers are still being stemmed. How can stores be any different?
We are now into the second year of the war in Ukraine and the effects continue to be devastating. I regularly work with seafarers from both sides of the conflict and their fears are the same, for their families, their homelands, and their futures. Hundreds of seafarers are still captive on their ships and unable to leave ports within the war zone. We are one Institute and care about our members wherever they come from, but our thoughts go particularly to our Ukrainian Branch members in Odesa and other parts of the country. We know that celebrations have been the furthest thing from your minds this last year. We stand with you, support you and hope and pray that the conflict ends soon, and you can start putting your lives back together.
I am excited for the future to see how ships and shipping will develop over the next 50 years. Many of us will be long gone by then but, as has been evidenced at every recent technical conference, we have the opportunity to set the course of how things will develop at every level, continuing the great work started by our founder members back in 1972.