On Board

Aug 12, 2008 (LBO) – The rapid growth of the world’s shipping fleet is opening up employment opportunities for Sri Lankan seafarers but training is constrained by a shortage of berths for cadets to get seagoing experience, officials said. The worldwide shortage of officer grade seafarers is growing and with more ships being built at a phenomenal rate, the shortage is expected to worsen, they said.

Abeyratne Banda, registrar of shipping of the merchant shipping division, said the seafarer training schools in the island have land-based facilities with only limited opportunities for cadets to get training at sea.

“A significant growth in officer grade employment of Sri Lankan seafarers was evident in the recent past although Sri Lanka could not capitalize fully on this opportunity as desired, due to non-availability of training berths for cadets on board ships.”

There are 30,000 Sri Lankan seafarers registered with the directorate general of merchant shipping with 5,715 seafarers having signed articles of agreement for engagement on ships during the year 2007.

But only around 18,000 are actively engaged on board ships at present.

Officer cadets, both in navigation and engine room, need onboard training to complemen