DM outlines plans to boost staff numbers and expertise

Maisie Cheng, Director of Marine

Director of Marine Ms Maisie Cheng told an audience of Hong Kong’s maritime community on Friday that plans are in train to address staff shortages and enhance expertise at the Hong Kong Register.

Speaking at the Joint Luncheon of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association and Hong Kong Marine Department Ms Cheng [pictured] said: “I understand that they [shipowners] are concerned about the sustainability of the quality of our service since in recent years the Marine Department has experienced difficulties in recruiting sufficient number of qualified sea-going professionals in meeting the department’s manpower needs, particularly when a considerable number of professional officers in the department will retire in the near future.

“To tackle the issue, we have drawn up a basket of measures in a holistic manner with a view to recruiting more new blood to join our professional cadre. A grade structure review on our existing workforce is already in the pipeline,” she added.

“We have also discussed with the Civil Service Bureau about enhancing flexibility in our recruitment for maritime professionals.

“For immediate alleviation of the manpower pressure, we have relaxed the entry requirements on working experience and language proficiency for the relevant positions. We are also exploring further possibilities to recruit junior maritime candidates with lower qualification requirements in the long-run so as to capture a larger pool of potential candidates to acquire the skills required at the professional level after completion of a well-structured in-house training and development programme. In the meantime, we are also prepared to listen to the views of the ship owners to further improve the manpower supply situation,” Ms Cheng concluded.

The occasion was also about celebrating the achievements of the Register and members of the Hong Kong shipping community. In May this year the Hong Kong Shipping Register passed the 104m GT mark, around 8% of the world’s merchant fleet deadweight tonnage, making the register the largest in Asia and fourth in the world.

“Not only are we strong in numbers, Hong Kong-registered ships are also among the best performers in the world,” said Ms Cheng.

“The detention rate of ships flying the Hong Kong flag is around 1%, compared with the world average of 3.5%. We are delighted and indeed proud that the Hong Kong Flag is a reputable flag of choice and quality.

That said, the success of our shipping register owes a large part to our excellent partners in the maritime services sector. As shipowners can choose the flags of their ships, the ship registration is in itself a vote of confidence in the flag administrations.” she added.

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