Cette année l'Assemblée Générale Annuelle a été organisée à Riga, en Lettonie, les 11 et 12 mai 2017 à l'invitation de la Latvijas Kugu Kapteinu Asociacijas (LKKA).
Riga, port de Baltique a connu une forte expansion ces dernières années, les échanges ayant bondi de 13.5 millions de tonnes en 2000 à 36 millions de tonnes en 2012. Riga est aussi une ville dont le centre historique et ses rues pavées regorgent de bâtiments aux origines variées, tant la Lettonie a été soumise aux occupations diverses, polonaise, allemande, suédoise, russe et soviétique. Même notre Napoléon a été tenté par Riga mais a été stoppé à ses portes en 1812.
Le 11 mai, après un tour sur la rivière Daugawa qui traverse Riga, le Conseil de CESMA s'est réuni dans les locaux de la capitainerie, au pied de laquelle sont amarrés les deux navires brises glace du port qui, réchauffement climatique aidant, n'ont pas été utilisés depuis maintenant 3 hivers. Le Conseil a réuni cette année les représentants de 14 associations membres représentant 10 pays de l'UE : Lettonie (pays hôte), et par ordre alphabétique : Allemagne, Belgique, Bulgarie, Croatie, France (2), Irlande, Italie (3 sur 4), Monténégro, Pays-Bas, et Slovénie, le représentant lituanien n'ayant pu assister qu'à l'AGA du lendemain, plus le Monténégro qui ne fait pas encore partie de l'Union européenne, même si sa monnaie est l'euro.
Le point de rendez-vous dans le centre de Riga
(Lavietšu Strēlnieku laukums)
The 22nd Annual General Assembly in Riga, again noted that the problem of criminalization of seafarers and of shipmasters in particular, continues to be a matter of great concern. CESMA urgently requests ship owners and/or operators to always provide legal assistance for masters, serving on their ships, in case of an incident as a consequence of which they are detained by local authorities, until, at least, a verdict has been pronounced. Moreover masters are urgently advised to consider taking a risk insurance.
The Assembly again discussed the problem of piracy against ships in various parts of the world, with attacks on ships in the West Africa area still frequent and violent, while piracy in seas around Somalia seems to increase lately. CESMA no longer resists the use of armed security teams, either military or private but also advocates the use of non-violent measures which become more and more sophisticated as an alternative, in combination with BMP 4 practices. Under all circumstances the authority of the master should be efficaciously maintained, except when fire-arms have to be used. CESMA also insists on exact rules of engagements to be observed under all circumstances.
The Assembly again discussed the problem of fatigue in the maritime industry. The requirement of a minimum of three certified bridge watch keepers, including the master, on each seagoing vessel of 500 GT and more, is still supported by CESMA, although we see improvement due to better controls by some flag states (Spain) and Port State Control officers. It continues to urge Port State Control officers to intensify verification of work and rest periods during shipboard inspections. CESMA supports the results of the Martha project.
The Assembly again discussed the safety of roro and large passenger ships as well as car carriers. Disembarking a great number of passengers and crew in an emergency situation continues to be a great concern. Damage stability as a result of flooded decks and/or holds caused by an accident, is still not sufficiently observed, also with regard to new buildings. Recently ordered vessels seem to show improvements due to lessons learned from the “Costa Concordia” accident.
The Assembly again expresses its concern about the increase of serious mooring accidents on board and ashore. Reasons discussed are the increase in sizes of vessels, lay-out of harbours, mooring equipments used and the ability and number of crew at the mooring stations. Another issue is disturbances in communication due to language problems.
Following the growing shortage of EU officers, employed on EU flag ships, also due to complicated procedures by some administrations regarding training and certification, the Assembly again urges EU administrations to support their respective seafarers by recognizing certificates issued by all EU administrations and enforcing simpler issue/renewal procedures for certificates of EU officers. CESMA again appeals to EU ship owners to create opportunities for young EU officers to complete their practical education and training and obtain their certificates. In this way maritime knowledge and experience within the EU maritime industry can be maintained. All efforts should be employed to interest young people in the EU to choose for a maritime career.
The Assembly again noted with concern the situation in the Mediterranean where illegal immigrants try to reach Europe by using unseaworthy craft which sometimes, due to overcrowding and bad condition, require assistance from merchant navy vessels nearby. According to the SOLAS Convention, ships are obliged to render assistance and take the immigrants on board. This could lead to dangerous situations whereby the crew is outnumbered by the quantity of immigrants. Moreover their intentions and medical condition are unknown, as most ships have no professional medical staff on board. As a consequence, vessel and crew could be endangered. The Assembly again wants to convey its concern to the European Commission and Parliament, as well as the IMO, in this respect.
The Assembly again underlines the importance of simulator training in the maritime industry. However it urges EU administrations to standardize exchanging of practical education and training periods by simulator training as “sea time equivalent”.
The Assembly urgently requests governments and authorities to intervene in reducing the many documents to be completed by vessels before and between entering ports, as they severely increase the working load on board, particularly of the master, who is primarily responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel, especially in confined waters.
The Assembly, noting with concern the large number of seafarers missing at shipwrecks of VLOC's, asks international maritime authorities, including the European Union, to not close their eyes on a kind of fatality that could convict seafarers aboard this vessel type to death. It urgently requests the European Union and its member states to push the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to create clear legislation on VLOC's. This includes the prohibition of conversion of Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC's) into VLOC's, as well as their current operation.