Achievements of the first year
WELCOMING members to the Branch's first annual meeting, the chairman, Captain G. A. Marchant, commented that the HK Branch was set up in 1985 as the newest and largest branch outside the UK. At the first AGM it was appropriate to identify the achievements of the current year.
The main aim of the Branch committee had been to establish the system and Branch operations. Three formal meetings and presentations had taken place since January and there was an elected body to carry the Branch through 1985 into 1986.
The main objective must from now he focused on the future. One of the most important issues was, of course, the Hong Kong registry. The loudest voices at present against an autonomous HK registry were heard in other countries, notably in the UK. The chairman wondered at this, asking whether the people in these countries had more to lose than Hong Kong had to gain.
In Hong Kong the Branch and the shipping community must find their own feet. In order to achieve this, the Branch, as a body. must formulate its own views on the HK register and make them known, presenting rational and reasoned arguments. This would necessitate consultation with other parties, especially government.
Other specific areas in which the Branch ought to become involved were: education for the future, vessel traffic control systems for Hong Kong, port-State control, links with other professional bodies, reflagging and conventions and IMO rules.
The chairman also said that there were many other issues which needed to be addressed by the Branch. Initially he would be discussing these with the committee in order to draw up a plan of action. Most likely working groups may be formed to shape and formulate policy. This will then be put to the Branch members for ratification. At this time in Hong Kong, the opportunities were tremendous. The Branch was well poised to seize these and to make its own voice heard.
Since the exploratory meeting at the end of November, 1984, reported the honorary secretary, the Branch had been formed in January 1985, inheriting 131 members who were HK based. The membership now stood at 150 with a large number of potential intending members. Registration of the Branch as a society had also been effected.
One important development was the considerable interest shown by other professional bodies—the HK joint branch of the RINA/IMar E, the CIT and the HK Institute of Shipping—in exploring the possibility of joint ventures. These could take the form of seminars, symposia, workshops and conferences. In order to further the overall aims and objects of The Nautical Institute it was essential to develop consultative status within an environment of co-operation with Government, shipowners. classification societies and with similar institutions concerned with nautical matters. The wealth of expertise and knowledge possessed by the Branch membership would enhance this consultative status, analogous to that by the parent body in the UK.
A conference on a major issue was being planned for 1987. Following comments by many members, future meetings from September 1985 would take place at approximately six-weekly intervals, alternating between Tuesdays and Thursdays. A meeting programme to May 1986 would be printed and sent out. Special meetings between regular meetings might be necessary in order to take advantage of visits by prominent persons or special events. The dinner/dance would be held on 12 October, 1985, at the Excelsior.
It was agreed at the first meeting in January, 1985, that the elected Branch committee would he confirmed at the first AGM and would carry on until May 1986. It was therefore formally proposed that the present Branch committee would remain in office until May 1986, and the proposal was unanimously carried.
Contributed by Captain N. J. Lopez, FNI
Seaways August 1985