By RAYMUND F. ANTONIO
The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) has rolled out its ship modernization program through accreditation of cruise ships and information campaign for motorboats to ensure safety of lives at sea.
Marina started recently the information campaign in Batangas City, where its personnel oriented several motorboat owners and operators from Southern Tagalog about the importance of upgrading wooden-hulled motorboats into steel, aluminum, or fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) boats.
The agency then called on shipping companies to acquire and operate cruise ships in the country to help promote tourism and said by doing so, it said it will “advance local maritime industry by boosting Philippine tourism.”
Marina Administrator Rey Guerrero assured it will be “uncompromising in regulating the industry” when it set the implementation of the accreditation of cruise ships last month. Cruise ships that were operational for not more than 20 years are covered by the governing body’s accreditation scheme to ensure maritime safety and security, the governing body said.
All ships are required to be classed by the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to “warrant adherence to technical standards and requirements, ensuring maritime safety and environmental protection.”
Efforts of Marina to modernize domestic shipping earned praises from the United Filipino Seafarers, a globally-recognized union of maritime professionals with 57,000 members.
“We can say that our efforts to spearhead a modernization program have paid off. Why? Because Guerrero, for sure, had the idea that indeed, our craftsmanship to produce tough ships are innate in our blood,” UFS president and engineer Nelson Ramirez said.
The union leader of seafarers cited the historic sea voyage of the traditional Philippine wooden boat called “balangay,” which was led by former Environment undersecretary Art Valdez back in April 28.
Three identical wooden sailboats, with well-crafted centuries-old design and carrying 33 crew members, sailed for 22 days to China from Poro Point in La Union.
The balangay expedition commemorated a voyage in 1417 taken by Sultan Paduka Batara, the first sultanate of Sulu to be buried in Shandong, China. The Sultan of Sulu, 600 years ago, sailed to China to pay tribute to the Yongle emperor of the Ming dynasty in Beijing.
Ramirez said the balangay expedition team embarking in such sea voyage confirmed that “Filipinos are born seafarers.”
“The expedition meant to inculcate a message to our leaders that this was symbolic of what Filipinos can accomplish to lift this country when we enhance and develop our vast resources,” he said.
“We are one with Art in reliving our maritime prowess, and thanks to the efforts of maritime stakeholders in spearheading the call to modernize our ships,” the UFS leader added.