FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS - CSC CADETS OF 1974
Ships Captain’s, or Master Mariners as they are called, celebrated their 40th Anniversary of joining the Ceylon Shipping Corporation as Deck Officer Cadets at the Club Palm Bay in Marawila and concluding with lunch at the “Ruwala Resort” in Kalpitiya. A number of batch mates from overseas also joined in this memorable celebration.
The establishment of an Association of Master Mariners of Sri Lanka has been a long felt need. However as the majority of Master Mariners were engaged in seafaring, it had been difficult to devote time and attention to the organization of such a body.
The Merchant Shipping Act forms a part of the Legislative Enactments of Sri Lanka. In 1971, the Merchant Shipping Act No.52 was enacted to amend and consolidate the law relating to Merchant Shipping. This resulted in the establishment of a Merchant Shipping Division under the Ministry of Shipping. Previously this function was under the purview of the Department of Customs. In retrospect, however, it can be seen that the first appointment of a Sri Lankan Master Mariner to the Pilot Service in the Port of Colombo had been in 1948, and the first local appointment to the prestigious post of Master Attendant had been in 1954.
Sri Lanka has had no known schemes for apprentices/deck cadets until 1936, when, with agreement of the Government of India, one cadet was admitted to the Training Ship “Dufferin” every alternate year subsequently two cadets every year. This number was increased to three in the 1960s, culminating in 1974 when four cadets received Training on the T.S. Rajendra which replaced the T.S.Dufferin. In the early 1970’s with the inception of Ceylon Shipping Corporation (CSC), a training scheme was organized where batches of twelve cadets a year were initially trained aboard MV Lanka Kalyani”, a CSC vessel dedicated for this purpose whilst engaged in foreign going trade and thereafter senior cadet berths were offered on all CSC vessels. Additionally, Sri Lankan youth were also able to obtain cadetships with foreign shipping companies. All these cadets in later years proceeded to UK, India, Australia or other commonwealth countries for their Certificate of Competency examinations. In the mid 80’s, shore based deck cadet training schemes were initiated by the Government as an NDT course, and Private sector Nautical Colleges followed suit. In the early 90s, for the first time, Certificates of Competency Examinations for junior officers were held in the country. The first ever Master Mariners Examination in the country was held in year 2002.
By the early 1990’s there were at least one hundred overseas qualified Sri Lankan Master Mariners. As much as around 40% of them had taken up shore based positions in the shipping industry by then. It was mainly on the initiative of these Master Mariners, that the formation of the “Company of Master Mariners of Sri Lanka”(CMM) became a reality. The initial idea had been mooted by a handful of Master Mariners gathered in November 1990 and is considered to have properly been established at a general meeting on 12th Dec 1990. The CMM was established on similar lines as the Honorable Company of Master Mariners of the United Kingdom and that of our neighbors, “The Company of Master Mariners of India”. The collective valuable knowledge base and experience it could harness was expected to be made available to the betterment of Merchant Shipping in Sri Lanka.
The Company of Master Mariners of Sri Lanka encourages all qualified Master Mariners to be members. As a professional body of experienced nautical personnel, it seeks, amongst its objectives, to maintain its status as a recognized professional consultative organization independent of political or industrial bias.