British shipping has delivered its strongest message to the UK Government yet that the country needs a ship register it can ‘be proud of’ and more investment in training British seafarers if it is to hold onto its position as a world maritime leader.
Speaking at the annual dinner of the UK Chamber of Shipping, held at the Hilton Hotel on London Park Lane, Chamber President Tom Boardley said: “We need a Ship Register that we can be proud of. We need standards to be maintained but levels of customer service to improve substantially.
“We need an MCA that actively courts new business; that is a champion for you, and for UK PLC. One that’s hungry for that next big success, ambitious and focussed in pursuit of growth,” he said.
Paying tribute to the UK Shipping & Ports Minister, he said the industry was on the path “towards meaningful reform, but believe me when I say we will not stop reminding you until shipowners in the world look to the UK and sees a flag of the future.”
He added: “And when they get here, they will see we have the some of the best business services and they will use them. And they will see we have highly trained seafarers graduating from the most forward thinking colleges. And they will take advantage.
“But if we are to cure the problem of the steady decline of British seafarers we need to invest. Heavily. Gone are the days of tinkering with SMaRT funding. If we are serious, if we are genuinely serious about training more British seafarers we need SMarT funding not just to increase, but to double. Yes, Minister, you heard me correctly! Double.
“And I say to you Minister, respectfully, if the Department for Transport can find £50 billion pounds to spend on High Speed 2, roads and local transport, I would hope you can find another £15 million to train the next generation of world class seafarers,” he said.
His comments came as the Chamber announced that it was encouraging a new breed of British ship owner by giving away a free one year membership to any new homegrown shipowning company set up. “Anyone who wants to take the plunge, buy their first ship and give it a go, will have the regulatory and policy expertise of the chamber at their disposal so they can concentrate on the things that really matter. Growing their business, creating jobs, and boosting UK maritime PLC,” he said.