Merchant Shipping Act-6 (Crew Accommodation)

Disclaimer: The idea of publishing this article is to: generate positive interest in mariner about the MSA 58;  and familiarize him broadly with the scope and range of the Act without going into legal intricacies.  Reader, in order to make final conclusion must refer to the Act in full with the relevant MS Rules.

Q. What provision is there in MSA, in respect of the standards of accommodation for seamen?
Ans. MSA-175 has provision in this respect. Thus, the central government may make rules with respect to the crew’s accommodation, to be provided in ships of various classes. In particular, such rules may provide for:

  • the minimum space which must be provided for each person
  • the sleeping accommodation for seamen and apprentices; and
  • the maximum number of persons permitted in the sleeping accommodation.
  • the position in which, the crew accommodation, including sleeping rooms, mess rooms, sanitary accommodation, hospital accommodation, recreation accommodation, store rooms and catering accommodation (not usable by passengers) is provided; and
  • the standards to be observed in the construction, equipment and furnishing.

Q. How is the requirement regarding accommodation, etc ensured?
Ans. The standards to be observed in the construction, equipment and furnishing; the submission of plans to authority; the maintenance and repair of any such accommodation; the manner as to how ships registered.

If any person making an inspection finds that the crew accommodation, sanitary, etc is not in accordance with the provisions of this Act, he shall signify it in writing to the Master of the ship and may, if he thinks fit, detain the ship until the defects are remedied to his satisfaction..

Q. What is the provision regarding the inspection by shipping master or other authorities, etc., of provisions, water, weights and measures and accommodation?
Ans.  S-176 is about inspection by shipping master, etc. A shipping master, surveyor, seamen’s welfare officer, port health officer, Indian consular officer (or any other officer at any port duly authorised in this behalf, upon which seamen have been shipped by the central government) may at any time enter and conduct an inspection in this subject.  The inspection also may be conducted, if the Master or three or more of the crew so request, in respect of the provisions and water; the weights and measures; and the accommodation for seamen.

Q. How often, a Master must inspect provision, water, crew accommodation, etc.?
Ans. The Master of an Indian ship, which is at sea, shall at least once in every ten days, cause an inspection to be made of the provisions and water (provided for the use of the seamen, and apprentices) and the crew accommodation, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the same are being maintained in accordance with the requirements of this Act. The person making the inspection shall enter a statement of the result of the inspection in a book specially kept for that purpose.

Q. What is National Welfare Board? Which rules do govern them?
Ans. National Welfare Board for seafarers may constitute an advisory body by notification in the official gazette for the purpose of advising the central government on the measures to be taken for promoting the welfare of seamen ashore or onboard ship. In addition to the general welfare, the matters aimed in particular are:

  • the establishment of hostels or boarding and lodging houses for seamen;
  • the establishment of clubs, canteens, libraries and other like amenities for the benefit of seamen;
  • the establishment of hospitals for seamen or the provision of medical treatment for seamen; and
  • the provision of educational and other facilities for seamen.

The Central Government may make rules for the composition of the Board and the term of office of members thereof and rules regarding the conduct of business by the Board.

Q. What is stated about provisions and water onboard Indian ships?
Ans. S168 is, ‘Ships to have sufficient provisions and water’. All Indian ships and all ships upon which seamen have been engaged, shall have on board sufficient provisions and water of good quality, fit for the use of the crew on the scale specified in the agreement with the crew. Any deficiency found in an inspection must be given to Master in writing. The ship may be detained till defects are remedied to his satisfaction. The person making the inspection shall enter a statement of the result of the inspection in the official log book, and shall, if he is not the shipping master, send a report thereof to the shipping master and that report shall be admissible in evidence in any legal proceeding.

Every member of the crew who made the false, frivolous or vexatious complain, as revealed during the inspection, shall be liable to forfeit to the owner out of his wages a sum not exceeding one week’s wages. The Master of the ship or any person having charge over the ship shall maintain such standards, in accordance with the provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention, for the quantity and quality of food and drinking water, and the catering standards applicable to food provided to the seamen on ships, as may be prescribed.

Q. What happens if the crew on an Indian ship is not provided adequate provision?
Ans. S-169 deals with allowances for short or bad provisions. Thus, if during the voyage the allowance of any of the provisions is reduced, or if it is shown that the provisions were bad in quality or unfit for use, the seaman must receive compensation in accordance with such scale as may be prescribed, as, wages.

If it is shown to the satisfaction of the court that any provisions, the allowance of which has been reduced, could not be procured or supplied in proper quantities, and that proper and equivalent substitutes were supplied, the court shall take those circumstances into consideration in making an order.

Q. What is the provision in Act about beddings, etc?

  • There is an obligation on owner of every ship of over five hundred tons gross to supply or arrange to supply, to every seaman for his personal use, bedding, towels, mess utensils and other articles according, to the prescribed scale.
  • All foreign-going Indian ships and all home-trade ships of two hundred tons gross or more shall have always on board a sufficient supply of medicines, medical stores, appliances and first aid equipment suitable for diseases and accidents likely to occur on voyages according to the prescribed scale.
  • The port health officer or other appointed officer must inspect such medicines, medical stores and appliances.

Q. Which ships must have medical officers?

  • S-173 states that a foreign-going ship except an STP and a piligrim ship, when carrying more than the prescribed number of persons, including the crew, shall have on board as part of her complement a medical officer possessing due qualifications.
  • If the number is less than the prescribed number then prescribed medical facilities, in accordance with the provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention must be provided.

Q. What is the regulation about MLC and DMLC?
Ans. S-176A states that the ships must possess Maritime Labour Certificate and Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance. Thus, all ships of five hundred gross or more and engaged in an international voyage or operating from a port, or between ports, in another country, shall possess a Maritime Labour Certificate and a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance. Ships not covered as above shall, unless, exempted by the central government, possess such certificate in such manner and form, as may be prescribed. The shipping master, surveyor, seamen’s welfare officer, port health officer, Indian consular officer, or any other officer at any port, duly authorised in this behalf by the Central Government, may inspect any ship, in such manner as may be prescribed, and the Master of the ship or any person having charge over the ship shall make available to such inspecting officer, these documents.

(You may also visit my youtube videos )

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: