Sri Lankan seamen institute gears to meet demand for crews

Galle, Dec 13, 2007 (LBO) – A seamen training institute run by Sri Lanka’s Mercantile Shipping Company launched a new lifeboat replacing that damaged by the tsunami, as it prepares to meet booming worldwide demand for crew. The lifeboat christening ceremony was held at the Mercantile Seamen Training Institute in the historic port town of Galle.

The institute received a new set of equipment, including two totally enclosed lifeboats to replace the open lifeboats used previously.

Much of its equipment and infrastructure was damaged by the Indian Ocean tsunami two years ago and the institute has since then been working to replace them, said D. Duschner, training manager.

“To sail our ships, we need excellent officers and sailors,” he told the launch ceremony last week.

The institute had to acquire its own lifeboats to provide practical training in safety.

“This training institute was founded 20 years ago with the aim of providing opportunities for Sri Lankan youth to gain professional training in seafaring,” Duschner said.

“Armed with the necessary qualifications they can find jobs as officers, engineers, deck ratings, and catering staff.”

Officer cadet Basitha Gunasekara said he became a