Grooming of deck Cadets – 12

The defining Moment!


The MN cadets – deck, engine, electrical eventually get groomed – many reflect the styles and the qualities of their mentors picked up along the way to becoming a watch standing officer and eventually the Master in command.


The international regulatory bodies, industry regulations, the trading patterns and the economic cycles of booms and recessions largely define the Cadets’ shaping – add a portion of their own initiatives in that. But does the industry get the officers that was intended? No matter how much one may argue the answer is a flat NO! The reason being the career itself being full of extra ordinary numbers of variables.


Can one search for a defining moment then? Indeed can …. Take a number of samples from across the world and you will find very interesting defining moments in the Cadets’ lives, the most frequent ones being…


  • Shear survival moments – learning, adopting in order to survive in the current situations
  • Opportunistic viewpoints
  • Career or family decision moments
  • Financial goals in personal lives
  • Not coping up with the rigorous of the given trade type and switching over
  • Not coping up with the academical demands
  • Criminalization of the seafaring career by popular shore based trends
  • Family demands – spousal demands
  • Having no choice – certain trade type simply getting washed of
  • Careers being taken over by other mediocre – cheaper workforces
  • Having to work with low standard crews and teams
  • Security issues – piracy – exposures to war zones and having no special protection of recognition
  • Peer pressure – peer trends on mass scales
  • … and rarely – occasionally a small number succeeding in having a trade of their choice, having a planned career-path to master the skills and actually doing so.


Consequently in this centuries old career, in spite of pumping in thousands of Cadet level entrants – there are only a few hundred highly skilled industry experts who at any moments call can operate the MN ships at the highest levels even when there is no quality demand or even when the wages are down …


Safe sailings!

Grooming of deck Cadets – 13

Just the way as the birth rate in a country defines the continuation of the country’s cultural heritage and social survival in the colossal world, the MN operating standards remain dependent heavily on the quality of Cadets enrolled in the career, their grooming and the attitudes they develop and their survivability in the career.




The cadets acquire academical portion of the knowledge through land based institutions and training facilities, while the practical operational skills are honed on board during their sea service.


At least to start with one needs to understand that the Maritime world today is at a juncture when the day is made when an enrolled cadet understands the key difference between a handheld web-search machine that is largely driven by marketing gimmicks and a purposeful commanding operation through the screen on board in a control room that is meant to achieve the navigational and engineering actions still based on the basic scientific operational principles that remain intact!


Having said all this and discussed so much about the grooming of the MN cadets, the fact is that every seafaring officer in the MN is directly or indirectly always grooming the cadets – the Cadets- like children in a family –  watch the seniors at work and learn, adopt or also decide not to follow something – there is no way out ….


The maritime world is a going through the transition on all fronts, from the way the ships are made, managed & operated at a pace that was never seen in the history. There is no way for the senior generation at sea at the moment except to be good at the traditional hands-on skills as well as the electronically controlled operating skills both and ensure that the cadets receive proper on-the-job grooming!


The clock is ticking before it is too late and the onus of developing future underdeveloped, unskilled officers will be on the current day serving officers of the MN !!


Safe sailings!

Grooming of deck Cadets – 13

It is very sad that while I am writing so much about the aspects of Cadets’ grooming – deck Cadets in MN – that I have to go and investigate the accident of a Cadet meeting with a deadly fall in the cargo hold……..  Extremely ironical in a sad sense!
What about his dreams of a great future..?
What about his parents’ condition ….?
What about the condition of his colleagues on board?
What happened to grooming at all in his case?
On a cargo ship – barely in his third week, he becomes very confident (in an unsafe sense) … the Bosun would later tell me during the investigation that the Bosun had been humiliated and rejected by so many young cadets and younger ratings & officers about safe actions at sea these days that he had gone into depression and stopped telling them much … his immediate bosses were complaining about the high degree of knowledge shallowness …. And so on … too many complaints about the deceased but neither a ‘system’ nor the ‘industry’ nor the ‘old sea dogs’ telling their stories could stop a life from failing so sadly …..
At the end of the investigation, making reports and explaining it to scores of the connected people – I came to the same conclusion again and again that whatever I have posted so far stands good to the dot and may be taken further for making it more effective in practical deployment but not for a single omission !!
I have no proof in my hands but I would tell the younger Cadets, officers and ratings that the animated characters in the computer games you play fall and jump and crash and yet get up …… in real life even a meter of fall on the steel plates can be debilitating !
Do not lose awareness of the real life impact, do not be adventurous in an unsafe sense – even the greatest of wars are won by great risk analysis, survival techniques and highest levels of situational awareness ….
May the should of the dead rest in peace and his loved ones have the strength to take this shock and loss with a strong heart …. Though it shouldn’t happen to any one else at sea or elsewhere !
Failing to stop wrong is same as facilitating the wrong!!  
Safe sailings!

Astronomical awareness – what’s that? ..can we discuss it later please …?

The world of sea navigation has moved from a constant human awareness of the astronomical situation & skills to a very low level. While the availability of the accurate astronomical situation is far higher than the pre-internet era, generally the ship’s navigator’s personal day to day astro awareness & manual astro navigational skills have sunk to low levels – does it matter? ummm .. not really unless the electronics breaks down and the navigator doesn’t know how to navigate..! can it happen …? Well you better don’t get caught when your ship’s navigator opens the basic navigational academic books or looks for a search-engine that is now off-line to take your ship to a safe location or you see a giant ship grounded on your beach causing pollution just because the electronics on board failed and the navigators could not calculate accurately where his/her ship was ….. is it possible? … yes it is … no matter what the superficial statistics says …




Ironically the astronomical aspects of marine navigation (2D) can never become irrelevant – ‘time’ ‘declination’ ‘orbits’ even ‘satellites’ are all astro! It is just that instead of humans the electronic systems use them to resolve the patterns, employ mathematical arguments and display the ship’s positions in the digital form on the screens of the instruments!!




Astronavigation is never gone – it is just that the current day navigators cannot use it with expertise because of the human brain’s habit of ‘use it or leave it’ for skills keeping! The once always-aware sea navigators no longer even bother to look up in the almanacs or look up in the sky – lucky they do look in their watches though not realizing that ‘time’ is astronomical anyway!! It is now the electronic navigation systems who care instead of the human navigators !!




So human sea-navigators, we are the electronic-navigational-systems, move aside please, it is our turn now to be in far more constant awareness of the celestial stuff, while most of you not don’t even understand the Navigational criticality in starting to say ‘8 o’clock’ for a ‘20-hundred hours’ time (current sea style seen far too often) because it is our concern now and not yours!!  Your weakness is our progress!!




Sarcasm aside – Navigators! Be alert, never over rely on the electronic navigational systems, they are as accurate as the human user’s settings, interpretations and verifications !! You have to use them but not by losing the Celestial Navigational Skills.




A whale with unused weakened fins cannot go to the sea again !  




         So, what time is it mate? How is the weather? when is the meridian passage today …?






Sail Safely!

Sweet & Sour – with some ginger as well !

As the social backgrounds of the serving merchant-seafarers changed, so did a lot more too!
A modern day sailor ….
  • Well educated
  • well informed
  • well provided with high tech ships
  • well provided with high standards of shore supports
  • well trained
  • well rested
  • well protected
  • well recognized socially
  • well-connected in real time
  • well paid
  • in good health
  • high in safety
  • saves the environment
  • saves the undue expenses
  • saves well for himself
  • under the constant threat of sea-pirates
  • under the constant threat of criminalization
    But (indeed no one likes a ‘but’ interrupting the list …)
  • not able to command the crew in emergencies (see some of the recent marine accidents)
  • not able to verify effectively
  • not able to tie a knot with expertise
  • not able to splice well
  • not able to swim well (is it…? there are so many ..)
  • not able to interrupt a wrong practice with self-initiative
  • not believing in ‘command & control’ to run a unit that is designed for just that
  • too many stories of Captains abandoning the crews and passengers and escaping themselves
  • not knowing what is a seaman’s proverbs to predict the weather at sea (‘red sky at night sailor’s delight ….’) !!
  • not knowing the sea-creatures unless he sees the documentary
  • can not describe the sea and swell
  • doesn’t bother to top up the wet bulb thermometer
  • doesn’t really check the time error
  • can not predict the weather ahead  
Do the pros have to be countered by the ‘cons’ is it..?!!
Whatever – as long as the cargoes are shipped safely and timely, seas & environment are kept clean & lovely, freight earnings are plenty, the world doesn’t really mind how the man at the sea commands! ‘Command’ is old fashioned anyway!!  

What are the far reaching effects of this change already happening at sea? In part we can anticipate and in part it will be what we do not foresee now … the time will tell …..unless of course the ‘command’ is ashore by men & women in shifts controlling the futuristic unmanned ships !!

Safe sailings!