Senior naval personnel at the newly- inaugurated Senior Rates’ Mess at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder in Port Harcourt last week.
Front line master mariner and chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited; Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho has said there was no need for the federal government to upgrade the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron Akwa Ibom State into a degree awarding institution or university.
Iheanacho stated this at a conference organised by the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria in Lagos last week.
Iheanacho argued that the original idea of MAN Oron is to award certificates of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) to Seafarers and not for awarding of degrees. He advised that the academy be left the way it is currently because it is meant specifically for seafarers.
The STCW sets minimum qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing vessels.
The former Minister of Interior argued that: "I hear people saying that MAN Oron ought to be a degree awarding institution, Oron is for seafarers who get STCW for 18 months, they are not supposed to have degrees, if you want to have a degree, then you can go to other higher institutions, the people who work onboard the ship are people who have STCW certificates".
Also lending voice to the recent statement by the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Dakuku Peterside on why Nigeria does not need a training ship, Capt Iheanacho argued that it is better for the government to go for a trading vessel and not a training vessel.
According to him, "there should be a distinction between a trading ship and a training ship, the training vessel is just for navigation, so if you do coastal exercise by going out today and come back the following day, this doesn't count as seatime, what counts as a seatime is the time you have on a trading vessel, and the trading vessel we talking about is not the coastal one, it is the international one"
"If you have the same size ship and she is doing coastal runs, it would be about one-third of the time, if you do 30 days, they will count it as 10 days for you.
On the need for trainees to get seatime, they need to acquire it on a proper trading ship" he said.
He said that shipping is about international trade and that any country that does not have trade cannot have ships, he added that the demand for shipping is a derived demand.
The master mariner also advised NIMASA not to put the cart before the horse by going to train cadets all around the world without considerations of seatime experience.