Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Walport video highlights dangers of ‘human element’

An exhausted Mate, with real fatigue kicked in and at the end of his tether, bawls out the ordinary seaman who appears dimmer than he should be (although he is barely qualified to be taking the lookout because all the qualified hands were “out of hours”). Continue reading

Schooner rigged, or what?

How many people would you estimate as being adequate for the safe manning of a 6000grt ship, a sizeable lump of metal by any standards, although a minnow by comparison with the monsters wandering around the world today?

The Netherlands maritime administration will happily issue a Safe Manning Certificate which will permit this ship to trade with just six souls aboard. Master and Mate, Chief Engineer, cook and two sailors, which seems quite generous – to the owner.

As I write this I have at hand the manning arrangements for a 3194gt general cargo ship commanded in the Indian trades by a relative, 75 years ago. Aboard this busy little ship there were no fewer than 108 crew, which is illustrative perhaps of the leaps in productivity that… Continue reading

In praise of politeness

It is not very original, but true nonetheless, to state that the modern shipmaster is rich in responsibility, but grossly impoverished in his authority. Continue reading

Wi-fi in ports is a must for seafarers

I am delighted to see that my fellow World Maritime University board member and crewing agency head, Doris Ho is making good progress with her campaign to get seafarers access to wifi while they are stuck aboard their vessels in ports. Continue reading

Time to raise seafarers up the social scale

The week before I joined my first ship, there was an encouraging headline in the local paper.

“Seafarers the scum of the earth, says judge”. He was, if I recall, dealing with the aftermath of what appeared to me a low-level riot in Southampton, with a Cunarder’s crew celebrating in an unrestrained fashion, in the course of which part of the city was wrecked.

Well, that was more than a half century ago, but it often seems that in a world even more dependent upon shipping for its food, fuel and fashionable consumer goods, the seafarers does not appear to have greatly advanced up the social scale.

Nobody knows any seafarers, so ships might be manned by Martians for all they believe. If they did, or if they had some inkling… Continue reading

Nautilus survey confirms ‘poor social life at sea’ fears

There was once a famously mean British shipowner, who, when shown the plans of his new vessel, seized a pen from his naval architect and with a few strokes, inserted six of the officers’ cabins into the space denoted on the plan as “officers’ recreation room”. Continue reading

Solutions for EU manning crisis

Sir Robert Coleman, who once ran the transport directorate in Brussels and now monitors the EU for BIMCO, is to head up a taskforce to find solutions to the regional crisis facing maritime recruitment. It is one of those problems which sounds a lot easier to solve than it really is, once the full scale of the problem is revealed. Continue reading