October 8, 2008
Coast Guard professionalism recognized in BIMCO seafarer survey
U.S. Coast Guard efforts to improve relations with the maritime industry are bearing fruit.
Back in February, Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen issued two ALCOAST (All Coast Guard) announcements on the issue.
"USCG activities involving U.S. and foreign professional mariners and maritime organizations will be conducted with utmost professionalism and respect," the first began. "Licensed and documented mariners are professionals who share our interests in a safe, secure, and environmentally compliant industry."
The initiative seems to be working. BIMCO, the world's largest international shipping association with a membership representing about 65% of world tonnage, has developed a unique ship reporting system. Feedback on various issues and practical problems comes directly from seafarers serving onboard a group of 220 ships selected from the fleets of some of BIMCO's board members.
The first survey, focusing on assessing seafarers' experience with ship inspections in the United States and internationally, has just been successfully completed.
The survey compared each respondent's latest U.S. ship inspection with their most recent non-U.S. ship inspection.
The results of the survey were very positive and indicated that although 30% of the respondents had experienced "unprofessional" or "disrespectful" inspections somewhere in the world within the last 24 months, 95% reported that the most recent inspection in the U.S. had indeed been professional and respectful and 77% of the respondents who had visited the U.S. since February 2008 had noted an improvement in the attitude of US Coast Guard personnel.
Although some seafarers did not report an improvement the general feeling from those respondents was that they had "Never really had a bad experience with the USCG".
On October 6, the results of the survey were presented to Commandant Thad Allen during a visit to BIMCO's headquarters.
"I was very pleased to receive this unsolicited feedback from a major representative of the maritime industry we regulate, serve and protect," he said. "The results of this survey reflect positively on all of our marine inspectors and boarding team members and their commitment to professionalism."
The results of the survey will be of great assistance to BIMCO in prioritizing future initiatives. It clearly indicates that while seafarers still experience problems with ship inspections, such problems are now rare in the United States. This information and the feedback from future surveys on a variety of practical issues and problems will help BIMCO to direct its resources more efficiently.
According to BIMCO CEO Torben Skaanild "It is essential for BIMCO to be fully in tune with its members and identify and respond to the challenges faced by ships in their daily activities worldwide. The BIMCO Ship Reporting System will spearhead our interaction with our member's seafarers and provide us with an invaluable tool with which to better serve our industry and help resolve practical problems."