JMAAA distinguished mariners award 2016

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Juldia Marine Academy Alumni Association (JMAAA) honours distinguished mariners of the year.
January 2, 2017
Prepared by: Ghulam Suhrawardi (6N)


Three pioneer mariners Captain QAMB Rahman, Mr. Zahedur Rahman and Captain Mohammed Shafi were awarded medals “Distinguished Mariner of the Year 2016 “. They had great contribution to the shipping industry after our nation’s birth.

Eleventh anniversary gathering of the alumni of the Bangladesh Marine Academy was held at the ARAAZ  at Rapa Plaza convention hall in Dhanmondi, Dhaka. It was well attended by the alumni and the Bangladeshi mariners. The purpose of the gathering is geared towards networking, seminars and discussing various difficulties faced by the young graduates of the Academy.

Recent downturn in worldwide shipping industry has hit the Bangladeshi seafarers very hard and has been aggravated by confusion and lack of good management by the shipping ministry. A pioneer academy established in 1962 has placed many seafarers  to enviable positions. This came to an abrupt halt recently by a combination of downward spiral worldwide, a glut of Bangladeshi maritime graduates looking for employment and declining shipowning businesses in Bangladesh.

The government licensed about 18 private academies besides Bangladesh Marine Academy, causing this glut. Adding to this scenario, Bangladesh Fishing Academy was also allowed to prepare their cadets towards employment in foreign going ships. Furthermore, government has decided to open four additional academies in the hinterland. All this occurred as a result of poor planning. Presently hundreds of these young graduates are unemployed and are demoralized.

In the earlier times, the fresh graduates were absorbed by Bangladesh Shipping Corporation for their initial apprentice training. Once that was achieved, it was easier for the cadets to find employment in foreign flag ships and add to the economy of Bangladesh. Ever since these three pioneers built our shipping structure, Bangladesh Shipping Corporation decayed due to serious mismanagement by the later managers. Now this organization is almost dormant.

In order to revitalize, the shipping ministry has to take initiatives to organize the industry to accommodate training of these fresh cadets and stop some of these inefficient academies. We should mainly focus on the development of the Bangladesh Marine Academy including a process whereby this institution could become a university. BMA has a proud history and it is our obligation to support this institution. The government has to negotiate with some of the foreign governments like Singapore, UAE and India to allow our officers to land or join foreign flagged ships just as the airlines crews are allowed to do. Foreign shipowners are reluctant to accept job applications from Bangladeshi mariners on account of this serious visa problem.

Excerpts from the introduction to the distinguished mariners
Introduction made by Ghulam Suhrawardi (6N)

Ladies and gentlemen, Assalamualikum

I have the distinct honor to introduce three luminaries of the shipping industry who charted our maritime policies at the inception of our nation. Their contribution and hard work established the industry that reached the pinnacle of glory. Unfortunately this is not the case today. I hope, we will be able to reach that milestone and even elevate upwards by the ingenuity of our new generation. These are bright young people who need guidance and help. I urge every senior in this room to extend his hands and influence to guide them like what these three distinguished persons did right after the birth of Bangladesh. The idea of this award is to encourage the younger folks and provide them with a historical perspective and to build a heritage. When we look back in our old age, that we feel proud, we built a shipping industry that is unmatched in the world.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce

Captain QABM Rahman

If one has to think about a person in relation to shipping in Bangladesh, that person is Captain QABM Rahman. His name is linked with the history of development of shipping in Bangladesh in such a way that it will always remain afresh in the minds of all seafarers and others connected with shipping in Bangladesh.

Capt. Rahman was involved with our inland shipping for quite some time. It was Admiral Ahsan, the then Governor of East Pakistan who recognized the genii of Capt Rahman and appointed him as the chairman of the East Pakistan Inland Shipping Corporation (now known as BIWTC). Those days in Pakistan he was one of the youngest chief executives of an organization that had probably the highest number of people involved.

In 1977, Captain Rahman was instrumental in bringing Prime Minister Callaghan to our Academy for a visit and assessment of our maritime training. Gentlemen; those were our glory days and that is how this Academy was treated in those days.

Capt. Rahman left his job during the 1971 occupation of the country by Pakistani forces and joined the Bangladesh interim government. Returning to Dhaka with the rest of the high officials of the now independent Bangladesh, he was virtually the one-man show in the maritime sector. He was personally known to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and utilized his connections solely for the interest of the nation.

A month after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s return, Bangladesh Shipping Corporation was created with Capt. Rahman as its first Chairman and Managing Director through a Presidential order. Prior to that, he set up the national maritime administration as the first director general of the department of shipping. He was a dynamic personality. We were lucky to have a person like him at that critical moment of the new nation.


Now I would like to introduce another gentleman who created a history in Marine Engineering.

Mr. Zahedur Rahman

After liberation of Bangladesh, a few well-trained merchant navy officers like Capt. Hemayet Chowdhury, Capt. QABM Rahman, Capt. M. Shafi, Marine Engineer Sakhawat Hussain, Marine Engineer Zakaria Khan Majlish, Capt. SMA Islam and Marine Engineer Tareck Anis Ahmed. Amongst these bright individuals, Marine Engineer Zahedur Rahman outshined in every respect. Each one of them contributed in the initial development of shipping in Bangladesh.

Alongwith the Master Mariners, the Marine Engineers played  pioneering roles in the shipping sector. Mr. Zakaria Khan Majlis was probably working with the renowned classification society Lloyds Register. Mr. Sakhawat Hussain was also working ashore. But a remarkable man, Mr.  Zahedur Rahman worked day and night to keep our ships operational. He worked initially as an engineer superintendent of BSC. Then he joined Lloyds Register. LR was kind enough to give his services on loan to the government to appoint him as the technical director of BSC. Later he returned to LR and retired from that organization.

I can go on and on with Zahed Bhai’s history. Zahed Bhai, kindly come forward to accept a token of appreciation from the alumni of the Bangladesh Marine Academy.


Captain Mohammad Shafi 

Captain Shafi born in 1936 in Dhaka attended pre-sea training on HMS Worcester (1952 -54). Subsequently he joined a British Shipping Company, Ellerman Lines Ltd. (1954 – 57) as an apprentice. He received his Master Mariner’s certificate from the U.K Ministry of Transport in 1961.

In command of Pakistani Ocean-going Vessels 1962 – 64. Joined East Pakistan Water Transport Authority and Worked in various capacities 1964 – 72. Last position – Chief Executive, Conservancy and Pilotage Department.  Joined Government of Bangladesh as Director of Shipping in 1972. Worked as administrator of Bangladesh transportation task group which was Government counterpart authority of UN task force 1972 – 76. Returned back to Department of Shipping in August 1976 as Director General of Shipping. Transferred to Bangladesh Shipping Corporation in September 1977 as Chairman and Managing Director. Returned back Department of Shipping on completion of 3 years tenure as Director General in 1980. Retired from Government Service in 1983.

Unfortunately, Captain Shafi could not make it here tonight to accept his award. I would like to request Mr. Zahed Rahman to accept the crest on behalf of Captain Shafi.

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