A Little Bit of History

Compiled by Capt. Angus McDonald

November 24, 1976; Local Master Mariners met to discuss forming in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a division of the Company of Master Mariners of Canada (CMMC).

Council and committees were formed, executive officers elected.
Council: Divisional Master, Deputy Divisional Master, Treasurer, Secretary, 3 Councillors; Committees; Membership; Newsletter / Public Relations, Finance, Training, Entertainment.

Meeting Place: First meeting place in cafeteria at HMC Dockyard.

After obtaining Divisional Status, the Maritimes Division (MarDiv) would meet at Naval Reserve establishment, HMCS SCOTIAN, on Gorsebrook Grounds, Halifax.

Proceedings of the Division governed by By-laws and Procedures of the Company which was founded in Vancouver 1967. The Company at large, with then about 425 members, is governed by National Master, Deputy and Assistant, Treasurer, Secretary. We were the 5th Division to join CMMC.

MarDiv took a seat on the regional Marine Safety Advisory Council (MSAC) which would meet in a maritime city, twice per year. These regional meetings would report to the biannual national MSAC meetings in Ottawa organized by the Ottawa HQ of Transport Canada for the purpose of explaining and permitting discussion on, new and revised regulation. The Ottawa/Hull Div. would send a representative to meetings on topics of interest to CMMC.

MarDiv. spoke to Publishers of maritime trade journals who agreed to publish articles of topical interest to maritime industry. This was a public relations initiative.

The MarDiv and CMMC in general, fostered a relationship with Transport Canada (Canadian Coast Guard, Ship Safety Branch) to become involved in the regulatory process. In the first years, MarDiv became involved in discussions with Ship Safety on the revised Certification Regulations, which was a first attempt by TC to simplify the complex Canadian system and bring it closer to the new STCW Convention of 1978 of IMO. Some of the debate was about “deep-sea passage” and efforts to arrange sea-time for candidates to qualify for foreign-going certificates and as master mariners.

MarDiv also developed a relationship with the provincial Dept. Of Education which administered the NS. Nautical Institute but the Department had little concept of marine training. We had a seat on the Advisory Council to the NSNI, then operating out of a former immigration facility at Pier 21. In May ‘77, the MarDiv collaborated with the Dept of Education and the NSNI in organizing a “Careers Day” for high school students to encourage them to go to sea.

A newsletter was type-written, photocopied and sent to all members monthly. About this time the CMMC National body started a newsletter which was titled, “From the Bridge” and at first published in Vancouver, where was the corporate Headquarters of CMMC.

In June 1977, eleven members of MarDiv who lived and worked in Newfoundland were granted DIVISIONAL STATUS and started operating as the NEWFOUNDLAND DIVISION in St. John’s. A year later, 24 members, resident in New Brunswick, formed the FUNDY DIVISION, based in Saint John. CMMC then had seven divisions across Canada.

Transport Canada (TC) proposed the development of The Maritime Code, which was supposed to be a Code of Conduct in Canadian shipping. MarDiv appointed a representative to discuss its terms with TC but eventually the matter was dropped. MarDiv conducted a poll among members re. The new certification and the IMO standards. Our member Capt. Ivan Green of CCG, wrote the book, ”Ice Navigation in Canadian Waters” which became a standard work and compulsory for all ships trading in Canadian waters.

In Feb. 1978, CMMC was admitted to membership in the Canadian Maritime Law Association and a member was assigned to attend CMLA annual meetings and one or two members served on CMLA committees which would deal with a matter of interest to CMMC. CMMC is a constituent member of CMLA. June 1978, the MarDiv, having some very experienced Arctic mariners, convened Arctic discussions which were topical as international companies were exploring in the Beaufort Sea and other areas for oil, gas and other minerals. In the late 1970s there was much discussion about building and operating LNG carriers to bring gas from the high Arctic to a location on the St. Lawrence, near Quebec. MarDiv. was involved in that project.

By this time, membership in the MarDiv had increased to 90 members, about one-third were sea-going, one third lived beyond hailing distance of Halifax and the other third lived and worked within the area which enabled them to attend the monthly meetings. When the new Maritime Museum of the Atlantic was opened it became the venue for our meetings.

Capt. R.B. Mitchell, who had been Master of the former Halifax Master Mariners Club, donated their ceremonial chair, the bell and the gavel.

The Division also became involved in navigation simulators when one was introduced at the NS Nautical Institute. Some members, masters and pilots had been sent overseas on simulator courses for ship-handling.

Another area which was discussed with TC was the Canadian Manning Regulations and we stressed the need for adequate manning for safety.

When Oil and Gas exploration started, off our east coast, there were not adequate regulations either for the rigs or for the supply and support vessels and the Division which had some members in this industry, played a role in advising government as regulations were being developed.

Our Division also had members sitting on commissions such as the commission reviewing the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation Act and also some of our members appeared before the Brander-Smith Enquiry into Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention. Also, we were represented on the Pilotage Act Review.

When the Marine Act was being developed, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation held sessions in a number of major ports and our Division’s representatives appeared before the Committee to give views on Ports, Pilotage, and Coast Guard.

The Division’s first attempt at a conference was in 1991 when a one-day seminar was held at the Marine Institute in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The topics were on the off-shore oil industry, then in its early days off the coast, and the double-hulled “green” tanker which would eventually be required by IMO, was discussed. Good speakers and good organization by the Nfld Branch of the Nautical Institute ensured its success.

The next conference was in 1996, an international conference in Halifax, “blessed” by Mr. W. O’Neil, the Canadian Sec-General of IMO as the conference dealt with IMO initiatives such as; Revisions to Ferry Safety (following the loss of the “ESTONIA”), enhanced bulk carrier construction (following the loss of many bulkers due to structural failure during 1980s and 90s), the ISM Code (which had just come into force as a result of casualties caused by bad management) and a major topic, was the revised STCW Convention – (STCW 95) – based on competency? This conference in October 1996 was a success and the Minister of Transport asked for a report on it at a major Marine Safety Workshop he convened in Vancouver the following month.

In 2001, the Division organized another conference and had the class societies give more information about the strength of bulk carriers and tankers, also reviewed was the effectiveness of the ISM Code and to discuss crew training needs for the hi-tech ships engaged in offshore oil and gas industry.

In November 2004, MarDiv, in collaboration with Dalhousie’s Maritime and Environmental Law Institute (MELI), presented a half-day Seminar which dealt with SEAFARERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS also CRIMINALISATION OF SEAFARERS. The first of these topics was covered by the Director who had been Special Advisor to the Maritime Sector at the ILO and was involved in the development by ILO / IMO of the new Maritime Labour Convention.

A MarDiv. speaker addressed the “Criminalisation” topic in which CMMC is much involved. Other speakers were the ITF representative and the Missions to Seafarers’ Chaplain.

Our third major International Conference was in 2005, when we covered the topics of Maritime Security aboard ships, in ports and along our coasts.

In this one, we heard about Maritime Security from different viewpoints, e.g. the Master, the Owner, the Coast Guard, Port Authorities, Customs Border Agencies and the Navy. Also included was a section on Places of Refuge and the Fair Treatment of Seafarers. Recommendations from this conference were sent to the Minister of Transport and to IFSMA which has consultative status at IMO. The IMO Secretary- General, Mr. Efthimios Metropolous, was represented by a senior official who read out the Sec-General’s address as the keynote speech.

We are now well-known for our series of Arctic seminars, two of which were held at Dalhousie University, Halifax, in 2006 and 2008 respectively and a third in April 2009. Sponsors paid for lunch; no admission fee.

The one-day seminar of 6 December 2006 was entitled, “Canadian Arctic Issues in a Changing Climate”. There were good papers by Dalhousie scientists about climate change and its possible consequences, then, Coast Guard ice-breaker captains (members of CMMC) gave the seminar a realistic picture of Arctic ice conditions. A commercial shipping speaker spoke of the Arctic mineral mine sites and the bulk carriers which moved ores to markets in Europe. This was followed by a Lloyd’s Register speaker who described IMO’s Polar Code and the development of rules for “winterising” ships for trading into the Arctic. The military had their say and described Arctic Command, with its limited land and air forces capabilities but with no ice-strengthened surface vessels. Maritime lawyers had their say too, on UN Law of the Sea and Canadian territorial jurisdiction.

The 2nd in the Arctic Seminar series was held at Dalhousie University on 27 February 2008. Its title was, “Shipping in the Canadian Arctic: The Challenges and Opportunities”. Challenges referred to were; Canada’s bid to extend jurisdiction to the outer limit of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, also, the scientific aspects of the ecology and marine environment were covered; commercial and insurance aspects were discussed and the Nunavut Government’s plans for an overland route south and access routes between communities were under study – challenges in themselves. Canadian Government views were presented by the Military, the Coast Guard and the shipping regulator, Transport Canada’s Marine Safety Branch. The final session included interesting presentations on Damage Control (for ships with ice damage) and how to avoid ice damage was the theme of a presentation about an Ice Navigation Training Simulator.

On 21 April 2009, the MarDiv. conducted a half-day Arctic Shipping Emergency Simulation Exercise which was followed the next day by a seminar entitled “Arctic Shipping; Planning for Emergencies”. These events were held in the Ken Rowe Management Building of Dalhousie University. The simulation was planned to represent a cruise ship carrying about 100 passengers, hull damaged by a multi-year bergy bit while transiting a channel within the Arctic archipelago, resulting in oil pollution. The “Players” included, the ship’s Master, the Owner, the P & I Club, the Coast Guard, Transport Canada, Environment Canada, National Defense, Classification Society and stakeholders like local communities. This exercise revealed the inability of Coast Guard to deal with pollution in such a remote area, the impossibility of moving pollution response equipment, lack of trained people, the great difficulty of moving equipment and people without helicopters. Lloyds Register helped by contacting their London office and having their experts calculate the effect of the ship’s hull damage and to advice on what might be done to mitigate damage. This exercise certainly produced some recommendations to government departments.

The next day’s sessions involved panels of speakers covering such areas as; local communities’ perspectives, ship-owners’ challenges, regulatory issues and practical application of emergency response efforts. This seminar had the benefit of having as a speaker and adviser, the Senator for Nunavut a man of great experience and knowledge of the Arctic.

In the year 2010, the MarDiv. studied two very significant issues of current concern; (1) The Release Mechanisms of Ships’ Lifeboat Launching Systems which have resulted in so many accidents at Boat Drills and (2) Somali Piracy and the Plight of Seafarer Hostages.

Our member who has many years of experience in the training for lifeboat launching and was currently working with a local training company, Survival Systems Ltd., led the study of the various launching systems and the pros and cons of different release mechanisms. It was revealed that there has been a lack of standards and regulatory control over manufacturers of such equipment, as well as a lack of information to assist in crew training and equipment maintenance. In recent years there have been many accidents, usually in ports, when lifeboats have been lowered in drills. Some of these accidents have resulted in fatalities which encouraged our speaker to entitle his talk, “LIFEBOAT OR DEATHBOAT”.

Another CMMC member, one who has done much research into the origins and practices of the Somali Piracy, which has spread across the Indian Ocean, made a presentation which included the suggestion that international terrorists might well become involved in this scourge of the seas. After several years, we are no closer to a solution.

Another member spoke about the seafarer hostages, their loss of freedom for long periods; their lives on the edge, at the mercy of drug crazy criminals. The world’s “great powers” with their navies in sea areas, cannot help these helpless captives. This was a very thought provoking session.

Our 4th International Conference, again held in Halifax, was in June 2011; its theme reflected in the title: “SHIPPING AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN 2011″. This successful conference, June 7 and 8 2011, took place immediately prior to the Annual General Assembly and subsequent meetings, also in Halifax, of the International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations (IFSMA) in which CMMC has membership.

The June conference covered such areas as, Marine Environment Protection and associated legal issues, noting severe Canadian legislation and also covering international and national compensation funds. A paper was given on the “Criminalisation of Seafarers” following a marine incident and a paper from the US, encouraged masters and crews to treat pollution seriously to avoid serious consequences in US ports.

The keynote speech was by a senior environmental officer from IMO whose paper really introduced several papers on “Green” technologies for ships and shipping. On the afternoon of the first day, we had a simulation exercise to highlight the IMO Guidelines on Places of Refuge for Ships in Need of Assistance. This was most interesting and was attended by a person from the UK whose job it is to represent the Government in cases of Intervention and Salvage around the UK coast. His comments were welcomed. Also, it was a test for Transport Canada’s Places of Refuge Contingency Plan.

On the second day of the conference, there was a session on Arctic States Agreements and Shipping Impacts with papers from a Russian on the Northern Sea Route as well as one from Transport Canada on new regulation of Canada’s Arctic. Papers from commercial interests in oil and gas and transportation of mineral cargoes from the Arctic were interesting too. There were more papers on “Green” technologies for shipping in the afternoon and a concurrent session on The Maritime Labour Convention, an achievement of ILO / IMO, which produced standard working and living conditions for seafarers. Our conference was described in “SEAWAYS”, the journal of the Nautical Institute with HQ in London. This appeared in the August edition but the report on the Simulation Exercise on Places of Refuge, was published in the November 2011 edition.

The fore-going, shows that CMMC and, in particular, this Maritimes Division, (MarDiv), are very active in interesting aspects of the seafaring profession. We need more active seafarers and seafarers who are still with shipping but now in shore-side occupations. Join our efforts for Safety at Sea and Fair Treatment for Seafarers.

Since our founding in 1977, this Maritimes Division has certainly achieved much but in recent years our joining the International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations (IFSMA) and our links with fraternal organizations such as Council of American Master Mariners (CAMM) with about 1,000 members and The Nautical Institute, (HQ in London, branches world-wide) and about 7,000 members, certainly give us considerable clout, especially as IFSMA and NI have consulting status at IMO.

NAUTICAL TRAINING is of company-wide interest and for Cadets at Canadian nautical schools and for other appropriate activities; the CMMC FOUNDATION was established in 2003. International conferences held by the Maritimes Division have provided financial support to the Foundation. The Foundation is under the direction of the National Council, unlike the Captain G.O. Baugh Memorial Fund, which was established in 1979 as a separate Trust. The Baugh fund also provides scholarships.