The Management of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS) has embarked on a capacity building programme, by equipping young nationals with the necessary skills and competencies, to carry on its 34-year maritime service operations.
Historically, ADOMS has employed expats from within the international and regional maritime industry. However, it is attempting to change this, as evidenced by the fellowships that were offered to two young Antiguans, to further their tertiary education in maritime related fields.
ADOMS is proud to now have Mr. Xavier Perry of Mount Pleasant, Antigua as part of their Technical Division. Xavier was first employed at ADOMS on an internship programme during his college years, undertaking administrative work until he was awarded the opportunity to attend the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) in Jamaica for three years and an additional six months at sea, as a cadet seafarer.
He is now a marine inspector, having taken up the role in October 2020, owing to the foresight of Ambassador Dwight Gardiner, the Director/Registrar-General at ADOMS. Perry said his journey to becoming a maritime inspector started when “Mr Gardiner asked me if I wanted to go to the sea, so we went on the oil tanker here for a little bit and I liked it so he sent me off to school”. “I think in third form I wanted to be a chef “ he recalled, noting too, that later on in life he wanted to follow his grandfather’s footsteps who was an aviation engineer with the regional airline LIAT.
Perry has been training continuously since 2014, working as a chief engineer on a number of yachts and now shares that the marine industry is “a good field to get into”.
The 27 year old said that during his studies he returned to Antigua each summer where he would apply his theoretical skills and gain further practical training with ADOMS. He believes that a lot more students would be excited to join the industry once exposed to it.
Another scholarship recipient, 29 year old Mr. Jace Spencer from Parham Town is now also a marine inspector at ADOMS. His induction into the marine industry was borne from the successes of Perry, who has been his friend since high school. “While he was in Jamaica studying, he was working on ships and told me about it and I grew an interest in it”, he shared.
Spencer then interned at ADOMS and later he received the opportunity to study marine engineering at CMU in Jamaica and graduated in 2019 with a BSc in Marine Engineering. He went on to get his practical seagoing experience before returning to ADOMS.
“What I do here is exactly what we would learn in class. So, when you can put a practical visual to it, it makes it a bit easier for you”, he said, recalling his summer internship experience, while at school. Spencer is immensely grateful and thanked ADOMS “…for the opportunity of attaining my bachelor’s degree…and creating a pathway for career advancement. He also went on to state that “…ADOMS have immensely shifted my life for the better…”.
The man who leads the new inspectors is Mr. Darion Lake, who was also a recipient of a fellowship through ADOMS and later attended the World Maritime University (WMU) in Sweden, where he received a Master’s Degree in Maritime Affairs . Lake initially worked at the Antigua Port Authority as a marine pilot, from where he was recruited to work with ADOMS in 2007. He was later appointed as a government Senior Port State Control Officer at ADOMS (Marine Surveyor).
His job is a bit more technical but continuous training, he said, has helped him to achieve this milestone. “I benefited from a lot of training leading up to and even after obtaining my Masters Degree. It covers a wealth of topics to include international legislation. It benefits your job profile whereby you are able to articulate yourself in a different way as you mature in the job”.
“The department saw it fit that you should ensure that individuals who will be interacting with the international community are properly trained and if it wasn’t for ADOMS it would not have been achieved”, he explained. Lake is now 41 years old and leads the domestic vessels side of the operations, certifying local vessels and helping occasionally with the international fleet.
Chief Marine Surveyor, Mr. Thomas Robinson shared that “Darion has been here a long time and he has worked on the operational issues that affect ships on our international ship registry, so he covers from that side if I’m not available, similarly I can cover of the small crafts side if he’s not available”. Robinson, came to Antigua more than five years ago, as a graduate Naval Architect, having worked for the UK maritime administration for many years. In addition to providing technical support to the international fleet he also worked on developing the Antigua & Barbuda Small Craft Regulations, which came into force in 2017. This now means that more than 500 small vessels in Antigua and Barbuda, under 24 metres in length, both commercial and pleasure, require a safety certificates and licence to operate.
The Small Craft (Control) Act created the job of a marine inspector, for which both Perry and Spencer are now well trained. “Now that the small craft legislation is in place and being enforced, it’s allowing me to step back a bit and focus more on the international ship register”. “It’s bringing on local talent, local skills and developing them to provide the required technical staff for ADOMS going forward”, the Chief Surveyor said.
The Management of ADOMS, as part of its succession planning, envisages that, in time, they will be in the position to draw on other local talent for technical maritime expertise. This will be achieved through the educational and practical training of Antiguans and Barbudans interested in the maritime sector, as well as drawing from the pool of staff within the department.
The maritime industry requires the expertise and input of highly specific personnel and, it is with this realization, that Ambassador Dwight Gardiner saw the need to embark on sensitizing young nationals to the maritime industry and the job opportunities within this sector, by starting summer internship placements. Ambassador Gardiner acknowledges that “the fellowships offered to these young nationals would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda”.