You are here

Reshaping the maritime industry one ship at a time

Reshaping the maritime industry one ship at a time
Yashika F. Torib September 13, 2023

THE Philippine maritime industry is often associated with the more established and lucrative sector of seafaring. Trailing in its wake are the widely diverse sectors of fishing, aquaculture, domestic shipping, ship registry, maritime safety and security, and shipbuilding.

While the industry operates as a whole, it is on the latter that the world's environmental future relies. Shipbuilding now sits at the heart of maritime innovation to lessen and eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from ships. According to a study by the International Maritime Organization, shipping contributes to climate change through emissions of black carbon produced by the combustion of marine fuel.

Despite this stark reality, shipbuilding and naval architecture in a maritime nation such as the Philippines still stand in the shadow of larger, much more exciting sectors that bring in more money.

From the perspective of a 22-year-old woman who studies naval architecture and marine engineering, or NAME, the global shortage of naval architects is unacceptable.

Trisha Gervacio believes that these professionals are the very minds that would drive innovation and address critical maritime issues of air and water pollution, acoustic disturbances, and oil spills.

"We can make a positive impact on the world by revolutionizing the world of ships. This is a field where innovation meets the pressing needs of our planet, and I long for the day when I can embark on a journey of reshaping the maritime industry, one ship at a time," she said.

Gervacio carries such strong optimism in her role as the president of the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Society, or Narchimes, of the Asian Institute of Maritime Studies and president of the Alliance of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Studies-Philippines, or Anamesp.

She drives this purpose harder on fellow NAME students, who are often overlooked by those around them.

"As of 2022, there were only 644 enrolled BS NAME students with only five schools offering the course. I also discovered that many NAME students enrolled in the program only because they failed the Ishihara Test, or the test of color blindness, which is important for ship navigation. Some have physical constraints that could be a challenge for deck duties, and others are simply seizing scholarship opportunities after not being accepted by their dream schools. It's like we are an invisible group that would be noticed only as a final recourse," Gervacio said.

With her perseverance and conviction, however, the once unheard-of and mostly unrecognized profession is now home to proud and well-rounded maritime youth.

"It became my mission to be officially recognized by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineering Inc. (Soname), the only professional association duly accredited with the Professional Regulation Commission of the Philippines composed of Filipino naval architects and marine engineers. The memorandum of understanding between Anamesp and Soname was signed on Sept. 7, 2023, during the Blue Economy Annual Trade and Conference (Beacon) Convention," Gervacio said.

"We are proud that NAME is slowly but surely gaining traction and three more institutions are offering the course across the country. We are also harnessing the power of technology, the Internet, and social media to amplify our message about the program. One of our most exciting initiatives is to make both current and aspiring naval architects feel visible, proud, and indispensable in the maritime industry," she added.

Recently, Gervacio represented the Philippines at the Asia Youth International Model United Nations, or Ayimun, a youth-oriented conference that simulates the proceedings and dynamics of the United Nations.

She discussed the importance of ship design innovations, existing maritime regulations and security, and the potential risks of autonomous shipping and related all these to the rise of terrorism in Mexico under the Interpol council.

"As a naval architect, I often find myself drawing parallels between my work and the world of ships. Ships, like us, are inextricably tied to the water. They sail through the unpredictable tides, facing challenges that test their strength and resilience. Just like life, it's not the presence of water that causes them to falter, but how they manage it. No matter the conditions of the sea, we have the power to determine our destination and shape our path. With resilience, wisdom, and the spirit of exploration, we can sail through life's challenges and reach our chosen destinations," Gervacio said.

"The sea, with its boundless expanse of water, symbolizes the essence of life. It is the very source of existence for all living beings and an integral part of our world. Without water, life, in all its forms, would cease to exist," she reflected.

The AIMS college student continues to impress and inspire people around her, but outside of her profession, the young woman spends time reading books, visiting art galleries and learning from various cultures. Gervacio is also as Gen Z as it gets — remarkably competitive and outspoken, with a great love for movies, television series and cosplay (costume play).