Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Captain Seow

This is another man of Xiao, who have did well in his career, which all Xiao clan should be proud of, the Master Mariner, Capt Seow Yong Him. Master Mariner is the highest level of professional qualification in marine career, a holder of unrestricted master license as Captain or Master of the ship.

Who is a ship captain?
The Captain or Master of a merchant vessel is a licensed mariner in ultimate in command of the vessel. A Ship's Captain also called Shipmaster, is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies.

A Ship's Captain commands and manages all ship's personnel, and typically in charge of the ship's accounting, payrolls, and inventories. The Captain is responsible for compliance with immigration and customs regulations, maintaining the ship's certificates and documentation, compliance with the vessel's security plan, as mandated by the International Maritime Organization. The Captain is responsible for responding to and reporting in case of accidents and incidents, and in case of injuries and illness among the ship's crew and passengers.

A Ship's Captain must have a Master Mariner's license, issued by the ship's flag state. Various types of licenses exist, specifying the maximum vessel size (in gross tonnage) and in what geographic areas the captain can operate in. An unlimited master's license allows the captain to operate any vessel worldwide. Restricted tonnage licenses include vessel categories down to 100 tons gross tonnage and below. Examples of licenses with restricted geographic scope include those issued by the United States Coast Guard(USCG) for the Great Lakes, inland waters, and near coastal waters. A candidate for an unlimited master's licenses requires several years of seagoing experience as third mate, second mate, and chief mate(source:

Master's License
Traditionally, a person holding an unrestricted master's license is called a Master Mariner and may use the post nominal title MM. The term unrestricted indicates that there is no restriction of size, power or geographic location on the license. It is the highest level of professional qualification amongst mariners. In England the term Master Mariner has been in use at least since the 13th century—reflecting the fact that in guild terms, such a person was a master craftsman in this specific profession. In the America it was introduced in the mid-19th century and at this time a US Master Mariner License is reserved for issue to those few who have attained the level of Unlimited Master, as well as Unlimited Chief Engineer, unlike the UK. An unrestricted master's license is colloquially called a "Master's Ticket", "Master's Unlimited" or just a "Master's." In the UK the official name of a Master Mariner’s qualification has varied over the years. The conventions or acts governing the license have evolved alongside the shipping industry. The master's license is sometimes still referred to as a Class 1 or Master Foreign-Going certificate as it was named during the latter part of the 20th century. The UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency, in line with the amended STCW convention( Intrenational Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers, 1978 is the set of qualification standard for masters, officers and Watch Personnel on a sea going merchant ships at international level adopted by IMO or International Maritime Organization) , currently title the license as Master Unlimited.(extract from

Career at Sea?
A career at sea brings with it a wealth of opportunity and in the longer term this can be either at sea or ashore. It all begins at sea… Ships Officers generally work in two departments – Deck and Engineering and this begins when you enrol as an officer trainee! The training for both disciplines uses a mixture of academic work which is combined with practical training both at college and at sea.

In UK, for each of the ranks of deck officer or engineer officers, you will have to hold a Certificate of Competency which is issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. You will receive the first of these certificates (the Officer Of the Watch certificate, also known as the OOW certificate) when you complete your Merchant Navy Training Board approved training course which is delivered through one of the maritime institutions . For Singapore Polytechnic, the completion of the diploma in nautical studies will qualified to be 2nd officer provided the diploma holder pass the Class 3 Certificate of Competency(deck) exam conducted by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore(ref: Further certificates will be gained as you increase your experience at sea and pass the required examinations. You will need to have the Certificate for the next rank before you can be promoted into it – so it’s important to get them as soon as you can!. In Malaysia, ALAM (Academi Laut Malaysia) offered courses for all level of competencies in maritime training.

Officers (Navigation / Deck)

Master (Captain)
In overall command of the vessel. Full responsibility for the crew, ship handling, the cargo, passengers and the safety of the vessel. The Master manages the ship and all on board administration and normally keeps the ships records.

Chief Officer
Understudy to the Master. Directly responsible for all deck operations including cargo storage and handling, deck maintenance and deck supplies. The Chief Officer is responsible for the deck officers and allocates tasks to the deck officers.

2nd Officer
Understudy to the Chief Officer. Specifically responsible for the navigation of the vessel and keeps charts and publications up to date. Other duties include monitoring the navigation and radio equipment on the bridge, undertaking the watch when at sea and the cargo watch when in port. The 2nd Officer (but sometimes one of the other officers) may also be the designated security, safety or medical officer.

3rd Officer
Normally the first post qualification appointment for an officer trainee. Responsible for making sure the fire-fighting equipment and lifeboats are in order. Understudies the 2nd Officer. Undertakes bridge watches.(note:They are the junior officers)
On passenger/large vessels, there may also be 4th and 5th officers but these would be unusual on other types of vessels

Officer Trainee
On a training programme lasting approximately 18 months to 3 years. Receives structured training and experience on board to complement shore based training. They assist and understudy the ship's officers in their duties.
(Ref source:

Capt Seow Yong Him is currently the General Manager, Marine of the Penang Port Commission. He hold a Master Marine certificate from UK, and Pilot license from Penang.

He is not only a high achiever in his marine career, despite his heavy work load in Penang Port, he is also active as member of The Penang Seow Association. The young professional of Xiao clan should follow this good example.

It is not easy to attain a level of Master Mariner or become the naval captain, it need a long process of training and experience at sea. Capt Seow Yong Him may be the only one from Xiao clan in Malaysia. The Xiao clan is very proud of him.

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