The development comes in the wake of frequent incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and Waters of the East Coast of Somalia
Concerned over the plight of crew who had been held captive by Somali pirates, the government has relaxed qualifying norms for them to appear in various nautical and engineering examinations.
“The Director General of Shipping has considered inability of these crew members on compassionate grounds and has directed … That these crew members are exempted from submitting qualifying sea-service document for the time period affected by hijacking,” the¬†Shipping Ministry¬†has said.
The exemption has been granted for various Nautical and Engineering Grade examinations, provided the crew members could submit a letter certifying the period for which the vessel was hijacked from the company’s authorised official.
Shipping Minister G K Vasan had recently said that sailors had “suffered immensely” on account of incidents of piracy and “more than 250 Indian seafarers were taken hostage since 2007.”
The Shipping Ministry letter announcing the relaxation said: “A number of vessels including Indian crew on board have been hijacked by these Somali pirates. These crew members have been released after being kept in captivity for a very long period of time. These affected crew members may not be in a position to submit qualifying sea-service documents towards their eligibility for various grades of examinations.”
The time spent under hijacking will be considered as sea service/propelling time for various grades of examinations for engineers and deck officers, it said.
Up to 75% of the effective hijacked time, the letter said, may be considered as propelling time for various grade examinations, it said.