100th Anniversary of Polish Maritime Administration
100th Anniversary of Polish Maritime Administration
Date of publication: 18.11.2020
Period before the War

The dreams of Polish people came true: the country was independent and had access to the sea, which became the symbol of material and spiritual freedom of the nation.

On 2nd April 1920 Merchant Fleet Office was established in Wejherowo. Captain Józef Poznański, who became the head of the Office, undertook the first task to find an appropriate location for a sea port. He invited Eng. Tadeusz Wenda for co-operation in reaching this aim. Soon the port in the village of Gdynia started to be built.

Opening port in Gdynia

In 1923 the port in Gdynia was solemnly opened. In May 1927 Merchant Fleet Office was moved from Wejherowo to Gdynia, and in March 1928 it changed into Maritime Office. At the time the scope of activity of Maritime Office covered planning, maintenance and development of small ports on the Polish coast: in Hel, Jastarnia and Władysławowo.

In 1939 Maritime Office suspended activities for the time of war. After the war Poland gained extended access to the sea. Three other big ports: Gdańsk, Szczecin and Świnoujście, were already within the territory of Poland. Unfortunately, they were destroyed. Soon rebuilding of port infrastructure began under the responsibility of General Maritime Office in Gdańsk, which changed into Gdańsk Maritime Office in May 1945. Then in 1946 Szczecin Maritime Office was established and in 1954 Koszalin Maritime Office was located in Słupsk.

Since then some organizational changes had been introduced until the present structure was defined by the Act of 21 March 1991 on Polish sea areas and maritime administration. The head authority of maritime administration is the Minister of maritime economy and inland navigation. Directors of Maritime Offices are territorial authorities. From 1st of April 2020 we have two Maritime Offices which are located in Gdynia and Szczecin.

International co-operation

As seas and oceans are an integral whole of the world heritage, protection and safe and environmentally friendly shipping require common efforts by all governments and international organizations. Polish Maritime Administration has always supported and participated in the maritime related activities of international and regional organizations, i.e.:

• International Maritime Organization (IMO)

• Helsinki Commission (HELCOM)

• International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA)

• Paris Memorandum on Port State Control (Paris MOU on PSC)

• International Labour Organization (ILO)

European Union and sea safety

On 1st May 2004 we joined the European Union and continued our activity concerning maritime safety, security and protection of marine environment within the European Maritime Safety Agency, Council of the European Union, European Commission and various expert groups. We have also been engaged in co-operation with the authorities of the neighboring countries, particularly in ships’ inspection, detection of sea polluters, exchange of information on vessel traffic, verification authenticity and validity of seafarers’ certificates of competency.

The fact that Poland is located on the Baltic coast has shaped us to people naturally sensitive to marine related issues who once determined on effective legal regime and good practices used in navigation, giving special consideration to the necessity to prevent seas from marine casualties and incidents which can pose threats to marine environment and the coastal zone.

Thus, the task for the future is to continue the work within the European Community and the International Maritime Organization, and particularly to:

• improve the vessel traffic monitoring systems, including the implementation of SafeSeaNet,

• ensure and maintain efficient system of ships and port facilities security through the implementation of the maritime administration policy defined in “National Program for Polish ship and port facility security”,

• improve the system of oil pollution response,

• develop common framework for the investigation of marine casualties and incidents,

• improve the procedures for Flag State inspection of ships,

• conduct permanent surveillance on marine equipment and its compliance with essential requirements,

• establish and use IT platform for maritime administration,

• implement electronic data exchange on ships entering EU ports,

• conduct monitoring of authorized class societies,

• implement new inspection regime for Port State Control with the aim to optimize the criteria for selection of ships for inspection.

It is the priority of Polish Maritime Administration to endeavor to ensure safe shipping on clean sea waters.
National cooperation

Maritime Offices cooperate with Polish Navy, Border Guard and Maritime Search and Rescue Service within the scope defined in Act on sea areas and maritime administration and in the field of hydrography and marine cartography.
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