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TUCP to schools and regulators: Ensure MLC does not burden seafarers

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has urged the maritime schools and regulatory bodies to guarantee that the Management Level Course (MLC) does not place undue strain on Filipino seafarers.


"We call on these maritime education institutions and regulatory bodies (MARINA, CHED) to also ensure that training programs like Management-Level Courses are not unduly burdensome in terms of cost and time requirements on Filipino seafarers, considering these will have an impact on the time they have offshore and off-duty that should otherwise be spent with their families," TUCP said in a press statement.


On November 10, 2022, the Maritime Industry Authority issued Advise No. 2022-56, declaring canceled, effective immediately, the following advisory issued by the previous Administration: 2021-23 dated May 7, 2021; 2021-45 dated August 3, 2021; and 2021-49 dated August 26, 2021.


In view of this:


• Seafarers applying for competency assessment and subsequent issue of a Certificate of Competency (CoC) as Master and Chief Mate, as well as Chief Engineer and Second Engineer Officers, must first finish the Management Level (training) Course (MLC);


• MARINA will no longer accept and implement equivalency on CoC revalidation for seafarers who have performed duties that are judged equivalent to seagoing duty; and


• Seafarers must complete refresher training courses to revalidate their Certificate of Proficiency (CoP) in Basic Training (BT), Survival Craft and Rescue Boat (SCRB), Fast Rescue Boat (FRB), and Advanced Firefighting (AFF), regardless of seagoing service of at least 12 months and showing attestation or document as evidence of onboard trainings.


"Throughout these challenges, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is committed to safeguarding and advancing the interests of Filipino seafarers," the TUCP stated. "Throughout these challenges, TUCP is committed to defending and promoting the interests of Filipino seafarers. As one of the bright spots in our country’s employment program, providing livelihoods to 380,000 seafarers who comprise more than one quarter of all personnel engaged in the international commercial shipping industry, and produce around $5.87 billion annually in remittances, our seafaring industry deserves all the help it can to ensure doors remain open to capable Filipinos working to rise in rank and station in life.


We at TUCP are therefore alarmed at MARINA and CHED’s seeming lack of urgency at ensuring our maritime education system’s immediate compliance with the STCW Convention, and insist that they act double-time now.


The TUCP calls on the Department of Transportation, MARINA, CHED, and the Department of Migrant Workers to continue meeting on a regular basis and to fully cooperate with the International Advisory Council that the President's Office is forming to ensure that our maritime higher education, training, and certifying institutions meet international training standards. 


It is critical for the Philippines to do so, if we want to maintain our competitive position in the seafaring industry.”



OSM Maritime and Thome to merge to strengthen global leadership in ship management

OSM Maritime Group and Thome Group have agreed to a merger of the two companies. By joining forces, the companies will be building an even stronger platform on which they will continue to deliver world-class ship management services to their customers and continue to improve. The combined company will be named OSM Thome.


“By joining our resources in OSM Thome, we will become an even better partner to our customers. With our emphasis on safe and efficient operations as well as innovation, our ambition is to make the combined company even more relevant and attractive to customers, employees, and seafarers. Our companies are a good match in terms of expertise and capacity, and we share a common agenda on important areas such as digitalization, cyber security and green shipping,” says Finn Amund Norbye, Group CEO of OSM Maritime Group.


Both OSM Maritime and Thome are deeply rooted in the Norwegian shipping tradition and expertise, and they combine this with the modern drive of Asian business enterprise. The headquarters of the combined company will be located in Arendal, Norway, with strong technical management hubs maintained in Singapore and Europe.


“Together, the two companies have a total of 32,000 employees, whereof 2,000 onshore in 22 countries, representing a diversity of expertise and experience. It is the people that enable us to deliver top quality and sustainable solutions to our customers. We operate across all the world's oceans, and the efforts of our 30,000 seafarers are key for the position we have gained within international shipping,” says Olav Nortun, Group CEO of Thome Group.


Today, the two companies manage 1,000 ships, whereof 450 ships on full technical management, and have 550 ships on crew management. Many of the world’s leading shipping companies are customers of OSM and Thome, and the fleet consists of different segments such as tank, bulk, container, car carriers, cruise ships and offshore vessels and units.


Completion of the merger of the two companies is conditional upon approval from competition authorities, which is anticipated during the first quarter of 2023. Until the merger has been formally approved, the two companies will operate as before, with separate management and organizations.


OSM Maritime’s CEO Finn Amund Norbye will assume the role as CEO for the merged OSM Thome, while Thome’s CEO, Olav Nortun, will take up the position of COO for the consolidated ship management activities. OSM founder Bjørn Tore Larsen will become Chairman of the new Board of Directors and Thome’s Claes Eek Thorstensen will be the Vice Chairman. 


Bishop, maritime chaplains seek help for Pinoy sailors abandoned by Chinese vessel employer

A Catholic bishop and several maritime chaplains appealed for compassion for 30 Filipino seafarers stranded in Australia and reportedly abandoned by their Chinese vessel employer.


Bishop Ruperto Santos of Stella Maris Philippines and its chaplains nationwide made the call as they condemned what they call “despicable exploitation” of the seafarers.


“We deplore this unjust treatment of the vulnerable crews, currently stranded in Australia, whose only dream is to give their families a better life,” they said in a statement.


“We pray that our seafarers may be given immediate assistance and every effort be made to protect their rights.”


“We are also hopeful for their fair remuneration, not only the unpaid wages for their services rendered but also for the sacrifices they endured,” they added.


The livestock carrier Yangtze Fortune has been anchored near Portland since October and has been facing Australian court proceedings brought by Singaporean commercial creditors to recover debts owed to them by the shipowner.


Supplies on board the ship are running low and many of the crew are desperate to get home, but must stay with the ship to wait for the court ruling, according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).


“These workers are already owed, collectively, more than a quarter of a million dollars in unpaid wages, and while the court action is on foot they must stay with their ship despite the ever diminishing prospect of receiving what is owed to them” said ITF Australian Inspectorate Coordinator Ian Bray.


Bishop Santos said they will continue to pray and offer Masses for the safety, sound health, and peaceful voyage back home of the seafarers.


Joint ILO-IMO meeting adopts guidelines on seafarer abandonment

Guidelines on how to deal with seafarer abandonment have been adopted by the first meeting of a joint International Labour Organization (ILO)–International Maritime Organization (IMO) Tripartite Working Group.


The Guidelines seek to address the significant rise in cases of abandonment of crews reported to the ILO, which have risen from less than 20 cases per year between 2011 to 2016, to 40 in 2019, 85 in 2020, 95 in 2021 and 114 cases as of mid-December 2022. The Guidelines aim to improve coordination among countries, including flag States, port States, States in which seafarers are national or resident, and States in which recruitment and placement services operate, in order to resolve abandonment cases more quickly, including getting seafarers paid and repatriated home to their families. 


The new Guidelines draw on relevant ILO international labour standards, notably the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC, 2006), including its most recent amendments; an earlier joint ILO-IMO resolution adopted in 2001 (Resolution A.930(22)); relevant IMO international frameworks and agreements; and relevant trends and developments in regional and national law and practice.


Under the MLC, 2006, flag States – countries where ships are registered and/or whose flag the ships are flying – must ensure a financial security system is in place for ships under those flags.  The new Guidelines encourage flag States to verify, at least annually, the validity of this financial security. Port States are encouraged to pay particular attention to this financial security during their inspections of foreign ships that visit their ports. States where recruitment and placement services operate are also called upon to regularly verify that those services include a system to ensure the protection of the seafarers they recruit and place.


The new Guidelines set out procedures to be taken by States if a shipowner fails to fulfil their obligations to arrange and cover the cost of repatriation of seafarers, outstanding wages and other contracted entitlements, and the provision of essential needs, including medical care. In these circumstances seafarers are then considered abandoned. These procedures include developing, in cooperation with seafarers’ and shipowners’ organizations, national Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to explicitly define the liabilities and obligations of the competent authority and the roles to be played by the various national stakeholders. These stakeholders include the relevant national seafarers’ welfare boards, shipping agencies, seafarers’ and shipowners’ organizations, seafarer welfare organizations, seafarer recruitment and placement services, and others. 


The ILO–IMO meeting also discussed the importance of the joint ILO-IMO database relating to abandoned seafarers, and the need to update and improve it. 


The Tripartite Working Group’s first meeting brought together more than 250 representatives and observers from Governments and Shipowners’ and Seafarers’ representative organizations, to identify and address seafarer issues. The meeting was held in hybrid format in Geneva from 13–15 December 2022. The outcomes of the meeting will be reported to the ILO Governing Body and IMO Legal Committee in 2023.




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MARINA Administrator Fabia on MLC







At MMPI and MOC Family Affairs


The spotlight is on the seafarers at the Maine Marine Philippines, Inc. (MMPI) and Manila Ocean Crew Management, Inc. (MOC) Christmas Get-Together parties held in Iloilo, Cebu, Manila and Cavite under the auspices of the Misuga Management Services, Inc. (MMSI). 


Four opulent hotels hosted the gatherings: the Courtyard by Marriott in Iloilo City on November 19, the Holiday Inn in Cebu City on November 26, the New Coast Hotel in Ermita, Manila on December 3 and the Bayleaf Cavite on December 10. 


The events are part of their Crew Family Affair (CFA) program, which aims to bring together seafarers, crew families, and company officials and staff to foster good relationships and mutual development while also increasing their knowledge on a variety of relevant topics. 


Under the CFA's banner "We value crew relatives as much as we value our seafarers," seafarers, crew families, officers, and staff of MMPI, MOC, and MMSI attended the events. 


The attendees were all eyes and ears to the officers who delivered their unfeigned messages: From Iloilo, C/O Janssen C. Manero, C/E Wende M. Buenaflor, and 1AE Mark Anthony P. Legislador; From Cebu, C/O Ermond G. Hisoler, C/E Glenn T. Mondares; From Manila, Capt. Nestor J. Ceniza and C/E Bernard V. Ramos; and from Cavite, C/O Ivan Hans-Josef B. Regis and C/E Macario L. Villaflor, Jr. 


Additionally, addresses were given by Mrs. Natalia Marites V. Gonzales, the wife of Capt. Rheyan P. Gonzales, Mrs. Esther T. Misa, the wife of C/E Vicente F. Misa Jr., Mrs. Marlyn S. Gepes, the wife of C/E Gefer G. Gepes, and Mrs. Marylyn P. Saulog, the wife of 2/O Bobby I. Saulog. 



C/E Bernard Ramos, 22 years with MMPI, emphasized how much seafarers value their families: “Our families and loved ones are the primary reasons. Our sacrifices could not be paid by any material thing when we see them successful in their chosen endeavor.” Capt. Nestor Ceniza, who has been with MMPI for 21 years, caught COVID-19: “This is the perfect time to acknowledge our perseverance and for overcoming the past years challenges. With this experience I have valued my own health and my family more. Let us strive to come home safely by following safety protocols and awareness how to protect ourselves and our families.” 


Mrs. Natalia Marites V. Gonzales, her husband Capt. Rheyan P. Gonzales, and their son Jay were on Misuga Kaiun vessels when the pandemic struck: “While stuck, I looked around and I came to realize how blessed I am that despite the pandemic our Maine Marine Family still opens doors to their seafarers to be onboard and take care of them as well while they are at sea at the height of the pandemic.” 



C/E Glenn T. Mondares, has been sailing for 30 years: “Indeed the company is a blessing to me because it helped us to have a job to live our lives productively. I thank the company for endowing me with the privilege and responsibility of my position. I will not be able to reach my situation and go further if not for the help of the company.” 


C/O Janssen C. Manero, who took his on-the-job training at MMPI until he became an officer said, he just dreamt to live a comfortable life but MMPI gave him more: his name, confidence, recognition and wonderful seafaring journeys. “To all these, my heart is overflowing with gratefulness. Maraming Salamat MMPI!” he exclaimed. 



C/O Ermond Hisoler expressed not only gratitude but also concern for the company's ability to retain competent seafarers: “Misuga Kaiun, MMPI along with MOC have increasing number of vessels every year, an increase of competent seafarers is in need. Therefore, our company Misuga Kaiun, MMPI, MOC have implemented career development plans and also specific trainings to develop the practical skills of our seafarers. In line with this, I would like to ask masters, chief officers, chief engineers and first assistant engineers to please impart your knowledge. Help us to train our junior officers, our ratings to be competent and be promoted.”



The top management of Misuga Kaiun, MMPI, and MOC are all grateful to their mariners, families, and staff for their support despite the difficulties brought on by the pandemic. 


Capt. Keita Okajima, president of MMSI, praised the crew's work attitude and character, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing their flexibility to work and their willingness to extend cooperation and support to the company and its principal. 


Mr. Yasuhiro Sone, Managing Director and Head of Misuga Group's Crewing Department, also sent a message to the crew families. On Misuga Kaiun's behalf, he also expressed gratitude to the seafarers and their crew families for their unwavering support.


“Thanks to the support and understanding of each of you, our seamen and their family, our vessels are able to sail safely the same as prepandemic time.”


Manager Mr. Kei Yamamoto of Misuga Management Services, Inc., likewise, delivered an inspiring message. 


MMPI General Manager Ms. Ma. Corazon "Coi" G. Songcuya, expressed gratitude to Misuga Kaiun Company, Ltd. for its generous support, to the staff members for their efficiency in running the business, and to the courageous seafarers and their helpful crew families who are enduring maritime work and the difficulties that come with it. 


The heartwarming moments were followed by festive meals, exciting games, and raffle draws.


The year 2022 marks the beginning of the company's efforts to re-open doors to a new normal in reaching out to seafarers and crew families. 


These programs serve as a launching pad for future events and activities that will resume in the new normal setup.




OSM Chair Adonis Donato

Lifetime Achievement Awardee

The Crew Connect Global Awards 2022 recognized Rear Admiral Adonis Donato, PCGA, Chairman of the Board of OSM Maritime Services, with a Lifetime Achievement Award on November 24 at the exquisite Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila. 


So much may be learned from him who retired with a gold watch and honored with a charitable foundation to his name – the OSM Adonis Donato Foundation, Inc., the corporate social responsibility arm of OSM Maritime Group. 


Donato is proudly Filipino, an early achiever: captain of the crew of cadets, class president, corps commander, editor-in-chief and summa cum laude, Marine Transport (’67), at the Philippine Merchant Maritime Academy (PMMA), the State premiere maritime school, the oldest in Asia. 


He served the Philippine Navy for 12 years, and the Coast Guard (PCG) for three. At PCG, he headed the Seamen Processing and Registry Unit, chaired the Inter-Agency Seafarers Coordinating Committee and was the sole Philippine delegate to the IMO-STCW Convention in London, England. 


He commanded bulk carriers, even saved a Dutch family from a sinking yacht off the French Coast. 


Donato joined OSM Maritime Services, executive officer for four years, then President and GM for 16 years. He was always double-tasking for the industry, like: 


• With a small study group at the Coast Guard Auxiliary, they wrote the book, Philippine Navigational Sealanes, Sailing Guides to Masters, and Vessels Traffic Management System” 


• Part of the lobby that pushed the passage of the Merchant Marine Act of 1997 which enabled the Philippines to be in the IMO “WhiteList” of Complying Countries to the STCW 78 Convention 


• Among others, president of: 


  • Master and Mates Association of the Philippines, a professional organization accredited by the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC); 
  • Philippine Federation of Professional Association, of 45 different professional disciplines accredited by PRC; 
  • Maritime Movement of the Philippines, a united effort of major maritime stakeholders to have a National Maritime Agenda, a commitment of former President Rodrigo Duterte to the group; and 
  • PMMA Alumni Association. 


As a corporate executive and social reformer, he is active in all major maritime organizations, elected (and always re-elected) to senior positions, including a nomination of a PartyList for a seat in the Lower House of Congress. 


Technically, he is retired. Practically, he never will be. 


For with his peers in OSM, he shares his competency onboard and offers his credentials in the Board. But overarching is his goodwill: consistent, not contrite; deep into the soul, beyond the clutches of business nor profit.


OSM Pres Mailyn Borillo
Shipmanagement is All About People

Ms. Mailyn Borillo, President and Managing Director of OSM Philippines, presented with pride and enthusiasm the company's best practices for achieving a crew retention rate of greater than 95% and a medical repatriation rate of 0.74%. 


OSM Maritime Group is one of the world’s leading shipmanagement companies, providing highlycompetent and loyal seafarers of over 70 nationalities, including Filipinos to more than 700 vessels under its management.


“Seafarers are human being not human doing,” Borillo, emphasized that “Shipmanagement is about people, retaining the right people.” 


Crew is traditionally retained by legal contract, competitive salary, performance bonus, seniority bonus benefits, etc. But sometimes with the financial crisis or due to poor market condition, financial benefits are normally not possible thus not sustainable.”


Borillo said OSM does things differently by establishing a “stronger psychological contract, an informal contract between two people based on trust and establishing a life relationship with the seafarer rather than just a work relationship.” 


In 2017, OSM launched the OSM Cares program to equip the seafarers not only with technical skills but also with life skills. Tools that will help them nourish good physical health, as well as mental health. Tools that will focus on holistic being of seafarers. 


Some of the initiatives of the program are the following: 


Health and Wellness. 

The OSM health and wellness hub was created in collaboration with Nordic Medical Clinic, and it implements mandatory health and wellness training, telemedicine, regular health seminars, psychological counseling for physical sickness onboard, and a holistic health onboard program for creating healthy food onboard and a healthy lifestyle.


The OSM Family Club. 

With seven chapters across the country, dedicated family counselors, and regular seminars, the seafarers and their families are inspired to improve family life and relationships. 


Financial Program. 

The interactive financial seminars are backed up by reprogramming company policies. Automatic savings and investment, as well as advance crew planning, assist seafarers in financial management. Borillo summed up, the program “must be holistic, it should be targeted not generic, it should involve the seafarers and family. It should have a surency connection, as we have the same program for our employees.”



OSM also walks the talk, the company policy supports the system. “It must also be proactive; it must be part of the strategic planning and management review which we are doing annually and quarterly, respectively. It must be data-driven with facts and data and involving the expert. 



“It’s not a revolution; it should be continuous.” A beaming Borillo said. It should be a regular thing to do for the seafarer and must be embedded in the company culture. 


Because at the end of the day, “Shipmanagement is All About People.”




(Editorial Note: Article based on Ms. Borillo's presentation at the first Norway-Philippines Maritime and Energy Conference on October 13, 2022, at the Manila Peninsula Hotel)


Western Shipping Southeast Asia



Seafarers, families, staff, and management from the Western Shipping Southeast Asia Inc. (WSSAI) gathered as one family at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City on November 19 to celebrate a night with Filipiniana theme, a symbol of Filipinos' unique identity and culture that emphasizes modesty, practicality, and resilience.


WSSAI President RAdm Bayani Gaerlan recalled that Family Day is an annual event, but they were unable to hold it because of the epidemic. "Therefore, after more than two years, we are back as, a Family, One Family, the Western Shipping Family, and we enjoy each other's company and camaraderie.


Over 300 individuals came together to celebrate WSSAI's 18th anniversary and Family Day under the banner of "Together for Greatness," thanks to the support of WSSAI's generous principals, Western Shipping Pte. Ltd. (WSP) and Byzantine Maritime Corporation (BMC). 


First, there was a kid-friendly celebration with clowns, a magic show, games, and finger foods. The Rev. Rollin Flores then presided over a liturgy. 


A variety of talents were on display that evening, including contemporary ethnic dances performed by cadets and office workers. Cadet Rayven Olete blew some sweet horn sounds on the saxophone. There was also a live band and performances by the children of seafarers. Samantha and Sabriena Sitchon, twins of WSSAI General Manager Capt. Kharvic Sitchon, also wow the audience with their presentation. 


The officers and crew currently onboard were also felt in the occasion through the AVP presentations. The event was also made more exciting by raffle draws. The WSSAI's godfathers, Capt. Belal, Mr. Davaris, and RAdm. Gaerlan, also gave the children cash gifts. 


Special Guests. 

WSP Managing Director Capt. Belal Ahmed, and BMC Crewing Manager Dimitrios Davaris, were joined by Anglo-Eastern Shipmanagement’s C/E Jessie Rex Martin and Capt. Rex Clyde Hingpit, IMEC's Mr. Dan Tolentino, PAMTCI's Capt. Arsenio Padilla, Pandiman's Capt. Andy Malpas, and P & I Dr. Jose Emmanuelle Gonzales. 


"The moment I entered this hall and meeting all of you is unbelievable," said a beaming Captain Ahmed. He remarked seeing videos of their happy seafarers “really makes all of us very proud of why we have progressed.” Capt. Davaris is optimistic that "the next years will improve and we will be together again and again."



Captains Ahmed and Davaris and RAdm Bayani Gaerlan presented the Western Shipping Southeast Asia TOGETHER FOR GREATNESS Capt. Ahmed leads the tradition. Stronger WSSAI Family MARINO WORLD 19 awards to loyal seafarers. There were four categories of awardees: for those who had worked for the company for 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. 



Traditional cake-cutting and singingtogether-while-holding-hands ceremonies capped off the event. And with a rekindling message from Capt. Sitchon for the Western Shipping Family, “We, in Manila we are always open for any challenges that will come, but “we will always deliver no matter what. Together for greatness!” 



WSSAI held the Crew Safety Conference at the Marco Polo Hotel on November 17 and the Prestige Tower on November 18 in Ortigas, Pasig City, respectively, in advance of the Anniversary and Family Day celebrations. 


The conference, themed "Make Safety a Reality," drew 60 officers and crew members. Among the speakers on seafarers' technical and soft skills are: Capt. Unnikrishnan M.N., WSP Operations Manager; Capt. Alban Castellino, WSP Maritime Training Center Consultant; Capt. Hemant Arora, WSP HSQE Compliance Manager; Mr. Narayanan Sundaram, WSP IT Manager; C/E Prem Babu Pillai, WSP Technical Superintendent, C/E Edwin Rafon, BMC Technical Superintendent and Lloyd’s Register’s Mr. Decena Bernardo. 


Other speakers and their subjects include: MTI Network's Gina Virtusio on Crisis Media Management and Social Media Usage; Marine Benefits’ Ms. Rebecca Jane Mejia, on Mental Health; Del Rosario & Del Rosario’s Atty. David Evelio Valencia, on Seafarer’s Protection Act; and P & I Doctor Dr. Edgardo Gary on Loss Prevention. 


Capt. Sitchon concluded the conference with an open discussion on crew issues. 


The company. 

Western Shipping Southeast Asia Inc. currently employs all-Filipino crew on nine bulk carriers and mixed The Andrade Famliy crew on eight tankers, with 86% of the crew being Filipinos, for a total of 600 crew for WSP and BMC vessels both onboard and on vacation. 


WSSAI is an active member of the Filipino Association for Mariner's Employment (FAME) and the local International Maritime Employers' Committee (IMEC), as well as a consistent sponsor of IMEC cadets at the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP). 


Through ISO 9001:2015, WSSAI strives for efficient, relevant, and globally competitive services. 


WSSAI's partner in the promotion and training of Filipino seafarers, WSP Maritime Training Center, has cutting-edge facilities augmented by a Resource Center with a library, laptop work stations with learning software to a range of computer-based training and instructional videos, and is located in the same building where WSSAI has its office, on the 17th and 18th floors of the Prestige Tower in Pasig City.

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