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  • Modernising the Merchant Navy Industry

    I'm rather new to the industry and from what i've observed so far it's been a mixture. I find on one hand the industry has great plus's like the option to travel far and work with a variety of people from all across the world. While the work in itself is interesting and challenging on a daily basis.

    Though this is all fantastic I do find the industry lacks ingenuity and development of ideas. There is still a very old feeling that 'Well this is how I was taught and this is how it should be done' attitude which I feel needs to be challenged. I understand hierarchy and the importance of chain of command but that should not be allowed to cripple the innovation of the youth and new ideas coming through. I found myself on a cargo ship for part of my sea phase and during that time the personnel on board were limited to a maximum of 60mb of internet data per month. This is 2018 for christ sake. There are ships who can supply internet to all crew comfortably so why was this ship any different. I believe the industry unions need to challenge the companies and ensure adequate means for communication back home is available to crew. This would keep people reassured and helps massively with ship moral. The chief's and captains that I speak to give the typical dinosaur answer of 'Well it wasn't available in my day'. If we all thought like that we'd never progress and develop as a species. The rotations of crew need looked at also. With technology improving and further advances with low cost travel there's no reason why staff cannot be more frequently rotated. 'In my day' great you did 9 months at a time but you also fail to mention the lack of low cost flights during that time. I believe that as technology advances so should the living standards and care of crew.

    I know this will come under fire but I feel it needs to be challenged. As time progresses the necessity to learn older methods of communication and navigation should slowly fade out. This should be to make room for the new technologies going on in industry. Why not have the latest technology taught in the colleges? As it stands most colleges hand out notes which are up to 25 years old. It's not fair these students are being taught with outdated paperwork or presentation slides handed down from lecturer to lecturer with no improvement made.

    It's an industry which has so much going for it yet there doesn't seem to be any sign they are keeping up with the times.

  • #2
    You have to remember that you work for a business meaning the goal is profit. For cargo companies internet is there for Work communication first, crew only get to use it because it doesn’t cost anymore to let them. My company brought in unlimited internet so that clients could monitor their reefers from home, nothing to do with morale. Also rotations are much shorter than they used to be already and will doubtless continue to move in that direction.

    The industry unions have pretty much zero power unless every union in the world united which is simply not going to happen, people are struggling for work as it is even among the more employable nationalities.

    I don’t know which college you went to but I don’t feel my training lacked anything on modern technology and I don’t see anything wrong with learning the old stuff too.

    It is a conservative industry, it always has been on the Ships themselves. But don’t worry about the lack of inginuity, unmanned ship technology is being developed and as much as we’d like to deny it, it is coming and we’ll probably start seeing the first stages of automation sooner than we think. How’s that for developing new ideas?

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's me believing the BS that falls out of there mouths at every career event is true as well, fool me. I find that great about rotations and glad more frequent ones are on it's way but I still find it sh*t about internet. I guess I'll have to pick my ships carefully in the future.

      Yeah the more I research and look into the unions they have fallen by the way side in terms of the power they hold as the companies have gained power within them and they're just another tool for them. It's disgusting knowing the existence of these mechanisms and yet we're unable to change the status quo.

      That's great for the Deckies that their career hasn't changed in the past 30 years lucky you. For the engineers the technology is changing at a monumental speed (As mentioned in your next comment) and with this advancement as should our learning. Being taught steam engines and old outdated technologies is futile. If you can't understand that I feel sorry for you.

      The ships you speak of are for cargo ships only and fortunately that's and an area of the industry I have no desire to work in.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yeah it is pretty terrible about the unions, sadly we just don’t have any pull when there are cheaper alternatives around the corner.

        Well I think advances in autopilots, GMDSS, radars and ECDIS have changed the Deck Officer’s job quite a bit. I’m using my phone and I didn’t see that you’re an engineer obviously it’s different for you guys, maybe dial back the condescension a little?

        That’s true, we won’t be seeing automated cruise ships in our lifetime, not fully automated anyway but it will be interesting to see how far the technology goes. I was at an AI conference not too long ago and investors are getting really excited about this kind of thing.

        Comment


        • #5
          I cant help laugh at your comments about the internet aboard. Do you know how expensive it is? You are aware its done by satellite? Last year I was given 2mb a month for whatsapp only.
          60mb would be a like Christmas to me. If you gave crew free reign they'd all be streaming "youtube" and skyping family, imagine the astronomical costs!

          As for "its like this only", it sucks. But you'll get this attitude in any profession. This mentality is also far more prominent in the east due to their culture. There is a reason that senior crew are senior, they know more than you, they have seen more than you. That chain of command should be respected because of that. That being said, senior officers are not infailable.

          Don't be so quick to dispose of old ways, theve got us here so far! Sure progress has to be made, but over the years the deck side has changed absolutely massively. Its very disingenuous to say it hasnt moved in 30 years!

          As for rotations, that would depend on the vessel and its trading patterns. Ferries get on well with 2 week rotations, but that kind of rotation for a ocean going oil tanker would be a nightmare.
          2/O Tankers

          Watch out for big green boxes...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by flobbernoggin View Post
            I cant help laugh at your comments about the internet aboard. Do you know how expensive it is? You are aware its done by satellite? Last year I was given 2mb a month for whatsapp only.
            60mb would be a like Christmas to me. If you gave crew free reign they'd all be streaming "youtube" and skyping family, imagine the astronomical costs!
            It’s really not that expensive at all, a quick google shows VSAT rates around $0.1/Mb and companies buying large volumes will be getting it cheaper than that. It’s such a small cost for the vast improvement crew welfare that it brings.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jorgesc View Post
              It’s really not that expensive at all, a quick google shows VSAT rates around $0.1/Mb and companies buying large volumes will be getting it cheaper than that. It’s such a small cost for the vast improvement crew welfare that it brings.
              Thats an interesting point and I'll confess im no expert on maritime internet connectivity. Although im not sure where you got those prices from, FBB seems to be atleast a few $ per mb.
              And yeah, at $0.1/mb x 60mb x 20 crew = $120, it doesn't seem like much. I know some ships give crew unlimited streaming with a very narrow bandwidth, resulting in very slow speeds, from what I understand your not only charged for data usage but also data rate.
              2/O Tankers

              Watch out for big green boxes...

              Comment


              • #8
                You're right I am an engineer and I hold no bad will to any other type of crew/officer. I just don't like the older generation who are stuck in the mud with their ways and have narrow minds. I'm not saying all are like that not at all as I've worked with many who see the greater picture but unfortunately not all.

                No condescension intended i'm just ranting out, I'm sorry but it's this attitude that I find narrow minded 'There is a reason that senior crew are senior, they know more than you, they have seen more than you' Think about the captain of the concordia seniority doesn't always mean better, that in itself is making big assumptions which in turn is ridiculous. I don't wish to argue I just want to explain my point and expand the way people see things. There is a stern attitude drilled into youngsters about never questioning authority and do as you're told. This in itself can hinder progression and I've seen multiple occasions where, for instance, a motorman has voiced his concerns in carrying out a job and the chief eng has walked in only to tell them to do it his way. This turned out to be incorrect and caused issue for the engine team. I appreciate advances in the deck department have been made with the radar and satellite navigational systems which have been paramount to all ships safety. I guess it's the secondary functions of the ship which, rightly said, by all means are in not necessary for a company to provide. I just think that's wrong and I don't agree with it.

                You've also made my point for me by asking if I know how much the internet costs? Thanks for reminding me that it runs through satellites (Wow who knew hey?!) and moments later you've admitted not knowing yourself.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Fleet Broadband prices from Inmarsat (per vessel);

                  “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

                  – Mark Twain
                  myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DeuceSeven View Post

                    No condescension intended i'm just ranting out, I'm sorry but it's this attitude that I find narrow minded 'There is a reason that senior crew are senior, they know more than you, they have seen more than you' Think about the captain of the concordia seniority doesn't always mean better, that in itself is making big assumptions which in turn is ridiculous.


                    Like I said, senior officers are not infailable. They have however had to sit through many months at sea and gain extra qualifications through examinations. It is not a big assumption to assume that they know more than a motorman, cadet or junior officer. It should be expected that they know more.
                    If you ever take a HELM course you will see that times most certainly have changed and we are constantly told that we should speak out if in doubt, and that raising a protest to an order by a senior officer should not be thought as taboo.

                    Originally posted by DeuceSeven View Post
                    You've also made my point for me by asking if I know how much the internet costs? Thanks for reminding me that it runs through satellites (Wow who knew hey?!) and moments later you've admitted not knowing yourself.

                    I said im no expert, I dont know the ins and outs of pricing for the various communications options available to companies.
                    I am however a qualified GMDSS radio operator (as are all modern deckies), I am required to be familiar with methods of shipboard communication. alistairuk has kindly posted some pricing, a decent streaming package is going to hurt the wallet quite fast.
                    2/O Tankers

                    Watch out for big green boxes...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Wel arent we the entitled new comer with half a watch under is clean boiler suit and his head up his arse.

                      Your complaint, my Internet is ****, I want to be home more often and we are taught out dated things.........you mention steam.....let's got with the shall we?

                      Don't need to be taught steam or steam engines? Steam kills, even at low pressure it kills, knowing how to use and control it matters, knowing how it reacts matters, wet steam in a 6 bar pipe become superheated dry steam when dropped though that leaking flange......that **** will cut you and cauterise at the same time, but hey you don't need to know that cos its old......steam engines......cos no ship anywhere has steam turbines anymore.....oh no wait.....waste heat recovery, free steam made from exhaust gas then put into a turbine making free electricity, enough to carry the whole ship load and some spare for a shaft motor. Steam powered wind mills are old technology, but we don't need to know how they work cos....you know .....old.

                      But it's old best switch it off and throw it away.

                      Nothing, literally nothing is new in marine engineering, since we added turbo chargers to diesel engines nothings changed, we have polished the turd a bit.
                      Common rail? Doxford had that 60 years ago, MrBenz pioneered it when he used coal blast injection
                      LNG powered....hmm gas engines are as old as diesel, London water board had some working ones right up till the mid 90's
                      Remote monitoring, yeah that's fancy and new but remember while you sit in the ecr watching the ps4 screen at the end of every mouse click there's a bit of equipment, it might break or jam or otherwise mess up, do you know where it is? Do you know how to put it in manual? Do you know the consequences for these actions?

                      Also bear in mind you are licensed to sail on any vessel of any age.......ships can be (and are) upto 40- 50 years old, at the time they had best and most shiny new stuff available now it's old and out dated,but the hull is fine, the engine works, why throw it away? You will be qualified to sail on that, if you are taught only the newest and shinyest then how will you operate such a vessel, with no ps4 or mouse?

                      Rotation lengths are a valid point, however until you get the far east personel to also push for shorter trips, 1for1 and so on then it is difficult to push through as they will be seen as cheaper, more compliant, less difficult to use. MLC can help in stopping the abuse of such people and mind set, but it can only go so far.

                      As for price comparison of data, no one has yet mentioned the cost of the equipment or administrating the system, the legal nightmare that is corporate social responsabulity and so on. I know for a fact that when internet was first introduced here, it took 36 hours for the first mail asking the company to find out who was torrenting a movie, ok they should have had better filters in place sooner, but wait there's another cost.

                      Like it or not shipping is here to make money, everything costs, old stuff is cheaper, well proven and there are spares available, oh and people understand how it works and how if need be to fudge it to make it work enough to get safety back to port (always handy )

                      I'm pleased you've had your rant as I've had mine now get out your old printed college books and read from the paper page about how new technology will change the face of shipping.....until the next big Internet fubar/hack/malware attack; )
                      Trust me I'm a Chief.

                      Views expressed by me are mine and mine alone.
                      Yes I work for the big blue canoe company.
                      No I do not report things from here to them as they are quite able to come and read this stuff for themselves.


                      Twitter:- @DeeChief

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                      • #12
                        I knew this thread was going to go like this, what I’ll just point out as I have no personal experience, of being on a big ship, only small yachts, is this, that the OP will find that if he should ever find himself in dire straits, and post, that it will likely be the old un’s with their ‘outdated views and ideas’ that will be the first ones who will be around to offer guidance and support, when you need it most.

                        They do this sometimes in their off time with their limited internet too. They make time on leave to speak to people, and the retired from sea do too. This sometimes when they have other events in their lives which probably is where they need to be spending time.
                        Why? Because it’s a career they love, and they know of the blips of ups and downs people get in this career, and appreciate when help is needed, and when people are just having a bad day.

                        Actually they deserve thanks for their time effort and sharing of their experience gained through the years. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a engineer, deckie, ETO, cadet or parent either they help them all. I think it reflects very much how close knit this career is.
                        In every career you will come across brilliant helpful people and others which frankly if they fell over board or under a bus, the reaction would be. Won’t miss that one.

                        Oh yes the deckies learn the old stuff too, with sextant and stars and charts, flags and morse. Useless? no gives a good underpinning of what the electronic versions do, and when they don’t work? Sometimes the old ways are all you have left, at least you know where you are and which direction you are going in and what is in the way or not. In your lifeboat, after some catastrophic event, and no working radio, might be quite useful to have a mirror and signal and use it!
                        I recall a while back an article about the US navy having ditched some of the old nav in their training, after a few nasties, they as far as I recall decided to bring that training back in.

                        As well as keeping up with all the new electronic ways of navigation, and communication, the rules, the safety stuff etc even in the years I’ve been around there have been new things they had to train or be tested on or examined, because just as chiefly says. Your ticket covers everything from the very old to the very new. You maybe lucky when you qualify to be on some new ship, on the other hand you may find yourself where a job offered is on a paddle steamer. Job going on one currently....1947 Rankin & Blackmore engine. You will need a steam endorsement.....! Not to mention the paddles to maintain. Check nautilus if interested.

                        Maybe when you have qualified and have some experience you might like to move ashore into an area where you can develop the new things to replace the old, but first maybe better to learn what people are working with daily, so you understand what if anything needs to change, what works and what doesn’t, and that way help those that work with it 365 24/7.
                        Ok now off to deal with politicians... and raise my blood pressure several notches!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          'Chiefy' First of all 'Wel arent we the entitled new comer with half a watch under is clean boiler suit and his head up his arse.' - I'm not even going to warrant that poorly written attempt at an insult with any sort of retort as it made me laugh.

                          Secondly, You make some very valid points and i'm glad you've made them. I have no desire to wipe out an entire generation by staying they're useless. If you read the post and my following post that's not my angle. I'll try simplify it for you. Yes I think the Internet situation is ****e and I feel it should be improved along with rotations for crew. I also think that the training revolving around new technologies in the industry should be encouraged as why not learn about new sophisticated technology out. This can only be a benefit to cadets. I'm sure when you were taught about Diesel Electric Engines for the first time they were reasonably new to the industry and look how common they are now.

                          I knew there would probably be a few people jumping on the 'Hey not all the old guard are wrong and corrupt! That's ridiculous we got thus far blah blah blah' I'm making it point blank obvious that I don't think all of their old ways are rubbish and useless, I'm saying there is still emphasis placed on systems which in this day and age are becoming redundant. Give an example, I was on a course last year where the instructor was ensuring every student knew how bright a Candle flare was in Candelabra units. There's no need for this and yes this is a small piece of information but if I was to dissect every bit of useless information i'd be here for years. I'm just backing up my point.

                          I'm regularly being told by people that this is an aging industry with a lot of people just set in their ways. As far as I have witnessed this does seem to be the status quo. I hope one day I am in a position to change this and improve life for seafarers. Pushing for better conditions should always be encouraged. Midge I've taken a lot of what you've said on board and I also appreciate everyone's responses (Negative as well!!) But equally you should appreciate that there are young guys coming through who wish to strive for more.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DeuceSeven View Post
                            I also think that the training revolving around new technologies in the industry should be encouraged as why not learn about new sophisticated technology out. This can only be a benefit to cadets.
                            A good point, all current technologies are taught about because its how you pass your exams. While it would be beneficial to new officers to know what they might see in a few years, it wont help you get your ticket and it isnt worth the companies time and more importantly, money.
                            There is a vast amount of cadets that are tonnage tax, these cadets only need to be trained to minimum, this is a problem

                            Originally posted by DeuceSeven View Post
                            But equally you should appreciate that there are young guys coming through who wish to strive for more
                            I am a young guy, theres nothing wrong with striving for more, you just have to appreciate that change takes time. Evolution rather than revolution.
                            2/O Tankers

                            Watch out for big green boxes...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yeah I’d also like to point out that, at 25, I hope I’m still considered a young guy!

                              A desire to strive for more is certainly not a bad thing and something I can relate to, but the ships we live and work on are the tip of a very big iceberg and an understanding of the industry as a whole is paramount to reaching the lofty heights you’re aiming for.

                              As I said before, rotations are becoming more frequent, internet is also showing signs of improvement. As good connection onboard becomes more important to the shoreside teams and customers, we’ll continue to reep the benefits. Unfortunately, the Brits are not the most influential nationality at sea anymore, not by a long shot, and as long as people in other parts of the world are willing to work for less, we’ll have to fight tooth and nail to keep what we have. Also with the state of the industry being the way it is, no one is in a position to be asking for luxuries, it’s sad but is true.

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