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The Assembly was chaired by CESMA President Captain Wolf van Pressentin

New board:VanWijnen/VonPressentin/Ribaric
         Resolutions adapted by the previous General Assembly are the guidance for the policy followed by CESMA during the running year. During the 15th Annual General Assembly these resolutions were reviewed for the progress made. On the Master/Pilot relationship it was noted that an important issue had not been resolved sofar, that is the language to be used by pilots and VTS personnel. The Assembly agreed that in principle English should be used as maritime language. It also agreed that in some countries safety of navigation was better served if pilots used their native language in the communication with other vessels and landbased stations. The master of the vessel should however be kept informed at all times, in understandable English, of their intentions and manoeuvres.

       On the piracy issue, the Assembly repeated its view that no arms should be used on board, not by the crew, nor by military or private armed security teams. It was also noted that the after-care of seafarers, once they returned home after being held hostage for some time by pirates, left to be desired in many cases. National administrations should safeguard a proper follow-up, physically and mentally of piracy victims.

       It was noted with great concern that evacuation of passengers and crew from a large passenger cruise liner in case of a calamity could cause serious problems for which no efficient solutions are available. The Assembly was of the opinion that cruise operators should guarantee that all masters and officers receive adequate crisis management training.

       As far as the relationship of CESMA with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is concerned, CESMA was invited to attend the opening of the new EMSA premises in Lisbon, Portugal. During this occasion we had the possibility to visit the newly installed LRIT (Long Range Identification and Tracking) centre. The system mainly aims at tracking polluting vessels in European waters but can even be useful in the follow-up of hijacking cases in the Gulf of Aden.

       CESMA is participating in SAGMAS (Stakeholders Advisory Group on Maritime Security), a forum which can express its views while assisting the Regulatory European Governmental Committee on Maritime Security, MARSEC. One of the objectives is to implement EU legislation to enhance security of ports and ships in the face of threats of international unlawful acts including piracy and armed robbery at sea. The outcome of the discussions is to be regarded as confidential. The Assembly was of the opinion that an important issue is the identification of seafarers serving on board in order to shut out people with wrong intentions.

         The Assembly again noticed with concern that little or no progress was made with regard to the fatigue problem on board certain types of vessels such as the smaller coastal ships with the six-on / six-off watch system. The Assembly reconfirms its full support for the joint proposal of IFSMA/ITF, requiring at least three certified bridge watchkeepers on each seagoing vessel of over 500 GT. CESMA not only emphasizes the serious threats posed to safety of navigation by watchkeepers suffering from fatigue, but also ask attention to the longtime consequences of fatigue with regard to the health of the seafarers concerned.

       As far as the review of the STCW95 Code is concerned. CESMA awaits the outcome of the relevant diplomatic conference to be held in manila in June 2010.

       It has been noted that abnormal freak waves do not only occur in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They have also recently been observed in the North Sea and other European waters. As freakwaves cannot (yet) be forecasted, masters are advised to be cautious at all times and are invited when observing the phenomenon to report to the local meteorological offices and CESMA, so experiences can be shared with colleague shipmasters.
       It has also been noticed that many vessels are in violation with Colregs, posing a serious threat to navigation, yet go unpunished. CESMA calls for an international system with stricter controls in this respect and sanctioning of vessels violating the Colregs.

       Every year thousands of containers, cars and trucks are lost or damaged at sea. Apart from economical damage, lost containers often remain afloat for weeks, posing a serious threat to navigation. MARIN, a maritime research institute in the Netherlands, has recently concluded a research project aimed at scrutinizing lashing systems and observing behaviour of (larger) container vessels in extreme sea conditions. Container lashings disengaging during the voyage can be attributed to twisting of the vessel in heavy seas and/or incorrect loading condition due to incorrect container weights. Masters are advised to exercise greater attention in this respect whenever possible and report findings which may contribute to improvement of container lashing systems.

       Still many accidents occur during lifeboat exercises, some even with fatal consequences. The Assembly is of the opinion that lifeboat release systems should be serviced and tested by certified and competent service personnel, preferably from the manufacturer. It has also been noticed that, in some cases, liferafts failed to work properly after being serviced ashore. CESMA calls upon all parties concerned to guarantee that liferafts are properly serviced as human lives may depend on them.

       The 15th Annual general Assembly was concluded with the invitation of Captain Slobodan Vrdoljak, representing the Croatian Masters’ Association ZHUPK, to organise the 16th CESMA AGA in Zadar, Croatia. This invitation was received with applause.


RESOLUTION Nr.1 (Criminalisation of shipmasters):

       The 15th General Assembly in Gijon, Spain, noted that the problem of criminalisation of seafarers continues to be a matter of great concern. In stead of decreasing, the number of cases is increasing. Motives are not only environmental offences but also serious accidents which involve victims. Recent cases have shown that co-operation between all parties concerned is the best solution to tackle criminalisation. CESMA has been invited by the EU Commission to co-operate in charting the problem. Criminalisation is seen as one of the causes of the poor image of the seafaring profession.

RESOLUTION Nr.2 (Piracy and armed robbery):

       The Assembly again discussed the problem of piracy and armed robbery against ships in various parts of the world, the Horn of Africa in particular All means to prevent these criminal acts should be activated to protect the lives of seafarers. Seafarers should be properly briefed before the vessel enters piracy infected areas. Yet CESMA still denounces the use of fire arms and armed guards on board ships as it could escalate violence and threaten the safety of the ship and the lives of seafarers. A new issue is the aftercare for victims of piracy and their families in which CESMA will be involved via the project ”A response to Post-Piracy Care” together with various other organisations.

RESOLUTION Nr.3 (Shortage of seafarers in the European Union.):

       The Assembly shares the concern of the European Parliament and Commission that the number of EU seafarers is declining rapidly. As a consequence, the shortage will increase and apart from the problem in manning vessels under a European flag, there is a threat that maritime knowledge and experience will disappear within the EU, also for shorebased jobs. CESMA will co-operate, if appropriate, with any organisation in the EU to make a seafaring career more attractive. This includes supporting maritime educating and training institutions in the EU. Proposals have been brought forward during the preceeding European workshop on the occasion of European Maritime Day.

RESOLUTION Nr.4 (Safe manning and fatigue):

       The Assembly still noticed with concern that the problem of fatigue is not attracting enough attention at IMO, although the issue has been transferred from the STWC Convention to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) as a safety issue. The requirement of three certified bridge watchkeepers, including the Master, on each seagoing vessel of 500 GT and more, is still supported by CESMA. The European project HORIZON, which investigates the consequences of fatigue via simulation, will be closely monitored by CESMA as an observer.

RESOLUTION Nr.5 (Abnormal waves in European waters):

       The Assembly has been informed about abnormal waves which more and more occur in European waters, without any notice by weather stations in their forecasts, causing damage and victims on board ships. It is recommended to share information on these freakwaves, so colleagues can be warned. Weather stations are requested to include the possibility of abnormal waves in their forecasts.

RESOLUTION Nr.6 (Safety of life saving equipment):

       The Assembly discussed the safety of life saving equipment on board seagoing vessels including many incidents and accidents during drills. It urges international bodies and flag states to introduce proper legislation to improve safety and design of life saving equipment in order to improve efficiency and quality in spite of possible considerable investment.

RESOLUTION Nr.7 (Safety and Search and Rescue in the Northern Black Sea and the Sea of Azov):

       Latest info shows that the situation in the above waters has not improved with regard to maritime safety and Search and Rescue. The Bulgarian Shipmasters’ Association proposes a conference to be organised autumn 2010 in cooperation with IMO,EMSA,CESMA, Bulgarian and other Black Sea administrations. This initiative is supported by the CESMA Assembly.

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