This is the final part of an interview Ghanashippingguide had with the Deputy Director (Maritime security,search and rescue) of the Ghana Maritime Authority Capt. Paapa Asuako-Owiredu. Please do well to read the first part as well.
Ghanashippingguide (GSG) – Can we get a little personal now starting with the schools you attended.
Capt Paapa Asuako-Owiredu (CPAO) – Well , I had my form 1 to upper 6 education at the Ghana National College from 1973 to1980. Then proceeded to the Ghana Nautical College from 1981 to 1982. In 1997/98 I went back to the same school which was then known as the Ghana Maritime Academy now the Regional Maritime University for my class 1 certificate of competency. I later acquired my master’s degree in Ports and Shipping Administration from the Legon Graduate school in 2012.
GSG – Talking about sailing, do you remember the first vessel you sailed with and which was your first port outside Ghana.
CPAO – I worked with the Black Star Line (BSL) and the vessel I was attached to was “The Bia River” I remembered my first ever voyage out of Ghana was to San Pedro in the Ivory Coast.
GSG – With regards The Black Star Line, there have been proposals for Ghana to once again have a national shipping line with some suggesting the involvement of the government. In your opinion would you say this is a good call.
CPAO – Having a shipping line in the country would be a great idea, however, I always stress that “government has no business engaging in business” all it should do is create the enabling environment for business men to be able to acquire ships. Shipping is a specialize business and government if involved might end up putting square pegs in round holes. You need the private expertise in order to survive in this competitive industry. Nkrumah knew this when He brought in the Israelis’ to help manage the Black Star Line. These Israelis’ have been engaged in shipping since the days of Adam and they have over the years acquired the expertise and bargaining skills to always win cargo for a vessel. Unfortunately the Busia government sacked them and that has been one major downfall of the Nation’s first shipping line.
GSG – One major challenge sailors have faced for ages has been the wrong declaration of cargo weights by shippers which has been partly blamed for some maritime casualties. A new SOLAS amendment seem to be aimed at addressing this issue by shifting the responsibility for rightful weight declaration on shippers. What’s your view on this.
CPAO – Yes this is yet another age long challenge, you see, if your safe working load is 7 tonnes and you load a 10 tonne cargo your wires would part which could cause major casualties. The rated weight of a cargo is very important in other to know which type of lifting device to use. Those days are gone when the weight of a cargo is just based on the word of the shipper, now a days, certificateS are issued for weight verification purposes so any new amendment aimed at further addressing this issue is a welcomed one.
GSG – In your days as a seafarer, did you ever sail across the Bermuda triangle, and is the myth surrounding it true thus ships and air crafts disappearing there.
CPAO – Well, I have sailed around the Bermuda a couple of times and am yet to disappear anyway, laughs!… I think it’s mostly a perception . However, from a sea man point of view, that particular area consist of shallow patches, rough seas and rocks etc making it naturally dangerous. Most often smaller crafts and pleasure yachts navigate with difficulties through the triangle but with bigger vessels you would always want to take a good course and so you would steer clear of that shallow area.
GSG – What has been your most memorable sailing moment and the worst moment
CPAO – My best moments. ..laughs! I think that would be when I was sailing with the ‘Neptune Spaniele’ in the 1990’s when we called at six ports in New Zealand. It was a beautiful country and a great experience. Funny enough, my worst experience was also around the same period, this time I was sailing with the ‘Neptune Ivory’. We were on course from Taiwan to Honkong when we encountered a typhoon. Our vessel was just 55 nautical miles away from the eye of the storm.
GSG – That must be a scary moment then
CPAO – I can’t describe it, just felt like death
GSG – How do you see sailing now as compared to your days
CPAO – Well for my opinion, it does not feel much like sailing these days,
I see lots of robotics in sailing now, ships are faster, equipments are smarter and port stays are less. The nature of the job is now in such a way that ships would have to be worked faster in other to stay less at ports. It may be a bit easier now with many machineries and gadgets but its definitely not that fun anymore.
GSG – Do you miss sailing?
CPAO – no I don’t. Once it’s a part of my past life it remains the past I would not like to sail again unless for pleasure.
GSG – Thank you very much for your time its been a very interesting conversation
CPAO – Thank you too