Friday, 19 June 2009

Industry Snapshots

Beyond simulation: get trained in these £150,000 replicas! The Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton has pulled out all the stops in a bid to give students a more realistic experience in ship handling. Students are being trained on miniature models of ships that sail in a lake at the facility; all the models have engines and steering and closely follow the characteristics of the ships they are meant to mimic. In the idyllic setting at the Academy, officers awaiting their first command, experienced Masters and would be pilots alike learn ship handling on board these prototypes. The training is intensive and equips students to deal with worst case scenarios. Some conditions are simulated by trainers; for example, the engine on the models can be remotely tripped, creating conditions akin to that of an engine breakdown. This unique course, the only one of its kind in Britain, is attracting students from as far away as Brazil and Canada, and is booked up to 2010. Trainees claim that considerable skill is required to handle these models; Canadian Matt Sicard says, 'The boats might look like the sort of things your kids play with in the bath, but they are very hard to control”.

Bangladesh panel recommends direct Dhaka to Kolkata passenger service in an attempt to boost trade and tourism. The move follows direct bus and train service resumption between the two neighbouring countries, and will strengthen trade relations in the region. Local companies in Kolkata are enthusiastic about this opportunity, which will undoubtedly give a fillip to their bottom lines in these testing times. There is considerable tourist traffic between the two countries, and shipping companies are thrilled that they may now get a substantial chunk of it.

Mr. Sarkar, Manager of Blacker & Co Pvt Ltd, says he expects passenger traffic to pick up in time. “This will immensely benefit shipping companies like ours. This is because we are unable to charter our ships on long routes due to high operating costs. However, the Dhaka Kolkata route being comparatively shorter will be cost effective,” he said. Others point to the fact that the sea route may well be the preferred one for many ecological tourists since it would pass the Sunderbans.

Directorate General of Shipping says refiners cannot hire foreign ships longer term, reports Livemint. At present, foreign ships can be hired by domestic firms only when Indian ships are not available. The longstanding demand of the PSU oil companies, amongst others, was to enable them to hire foreign ships longer term, so that they could control costs and counter volatility in rates. PSU’s like Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd have been pushing this since at least last year, when they approached the DGS for the requested change, claiming that higher costs and the volatility in freight rates were an unnecessary drain on their finances. Domestic shipping companies obviously opposed this move: they claimed that a possible regulatory ruling against them would be impossible to survive given the present state of the business. Divya Shipping’s Mr. Shiryan now says, “The DGS’s move has brought relief to the shipping companies in India who are slowly recovering the losses that they had incurred over the past few months. If oil refining companies are given the right to hire foreign ships for a longer period of time, it would enable them to extend their contracts with foreign vessel companies, effectively leading to loss of crude oil transporting consignments for local ship operators.” Other shipping companies continue to demand more policies from the DGS that protect domestic companies, including in other trades. They have INSA’s support in this endeavour.



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