Ladies and gentlemen, throughout the past year we have continued with our previous policy of holding one function a month with the focus on quality rather quantity. Also, and as a result of the healthy nature of our finances following our seminar in 2003 and the generous sponsorship of some those giving the presentations, we have continued to hold the presentations in first class venues with free admission, food and drinks.
Our first presentation since I took over as Chairman last year was held in July and involved a visit to the Marine Department Ship Stimulator at Stonecutter’s Island. This was followed by a presentation by Fendercare in September and which they very generously sponsored. In October we received a visit from the President of the Nautical Institute, and Commodore Squire, and we arranged for Commodore Squire to participate in a joint presentation on manning issues with the Hong Kong Shipowners Association. At the same time the President also presented the Director of Marine, S. Y. Tsui, with his honorary fellowship of the Institute – not just a great personal honour for Mr. Tsui, but a proud moment also for the members of the Institute in Hong Kong.
In November, there was a visit to the Marine Police Headquarters followed by a very pleasant lunch and in December we held our 20th Anniversary Dinner where we saw some familiar faces of past chairmen and others. The night was a great success and special thanks are due to the organizing committee of Thomas Yeung and David Watkins.
In February of this year, we arranged a ship visit to the Kitty Hawk and in March, we held a joint presentation at the Hong Kong Poly -U which prompted lively debate on maritime education in Hong Kong.
In April, Clyde & Co. gave a presentation on the handling of collision claims which they also very generously sponsored, and in June we arranged another ship visit to the aircraft carrier, Nimitz.
In addition to the kind sponsorship from Fendercare and Clyde & Co., we also received donations from Unique Shipping, who are stalwart supporters of the Institute, and Captain Jack Haworth.
As a result of these presentations and, in particular, our joint presentations with the Hong Kong Shipowners Association and with the Hong Kong Poly-U, the profile of the branch is being continually raised to the extent now where we receive invitations to send representatives to various other seminars on maritime education in Hong Kong and ship manning generally. In this regard, we were invited to participate in a Maritime Day Seminar to discuss the future of maritime education in Hong Kong organized by the Hong Kong Poly-U; and we received invites from the Hong Kong Marine Department to join them in welcoming representatives from the Maritime Safety Authorities in Guangzhou on their new coastguard cutter to Hong Kong, and to the forthcoming dinner to celebrate the success of the Hong Kong Ship Register. All of which, bodes well with for the success of our forthcoming seminar entitled “Seafarers – What is the Future?”.
This full day seminar will be held in November and will follow the successful format of our last seminar. Additionally however, the organizing committee have succeeded in attracting some speakers from overseas to add to the international flavour of the event, and we are expecting a good turn-out and some lively debate! Special thanks are due to the organizing committee under the chairmanship of John Wilson.
We continue to submit write ups on all our activities to NIHQ for publication in the Seaways Magazine, and whilst they are not always published, you can always find them on our own website, together with photographs - and special thanks are due to Luca for his sterling efforts in this regard.
Amongst all this good news, we were unfortunately saddened to learn of the death of Andrew Moore last year. Andrew was a founding member of the Hong Kong Branch of the Nautical Institute and was a well known and respected figure in Hong Kong shipping circles, as witnessed by the large turnout at his memorial service here in Hong Kong last September. In similar vein, and due to the efforts of our past chairman, Captain Edmondson, we are now allowed to participate in the wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the end of WWII and Eric and Andy Gray attended for this purpose at the Cenotaph last November.
On the issue of membership, I am pleased to report that we received several inquiries during the past 12 months, and whilst the Branch membership has not significantly increased, we continue to grow.
In closing, special thanks are due to all members of the Branch Committee for their sterling work over the past year which has enabled me especially to take a more relaxed approach to Branch affairs.