Capt. Saib Olopoenia, President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) has said most accidents at sea were due to human error.
He told OnepageAfrica in Lagos that the prevailing situation in the industry had demanded improved training for seafarers, even as weather conditions might become difficult to manage sometimes.
“The major safety issue for ships is probably the human element. That is why there is so much emphasis on manpower training, training and certification of seafarers.
“In fact, this year’s theme of the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) is ‘maritime education and training,’ because, majority of the accidents that happen, is found to be caused by human element issues, either human error or whatever.
“Normally, ships receive weather reports regularly and what normally happens is that when a ship receives weather report 24 hours previously, you have to plan your route, if you are lucky to.
“But of course, weather can change anyway. So, sometimes, even if you plan that route, the weather might change.
“If you get caught up in that weather the ship may be lost.”
The NAMM President, however, charged young Nigerian seafarers to be committed and strong-willed to survive at sea.
He added that the task, though tough, was always a rewarding one.
“What I can only say is that those who want to go to sea now should be committed because it is not easy to be on a ship at sea, may be you are only about 12 on a ship or 13 or 14.
“When we were at sea, we had only Nigerians on the ship, but these days you are going to go to sea with a lot of nationalities, so you have to be a strong-willed person to be able to survive sea life.
“And it is not easy; it is not a joke to be on a ship. You have to face some difficult times, but the reward is there once you can persevere.’’
Olopoenia advised that seafarers must be focused and calculative to make their sea voyages safe.