Freight Investigation Bureau (FIB) was set up in the Directorate General of Shipping 1959. This has branch offices at Calcutta, Cochin, Kandla, Madras and Vishakhapatnam. The main functions of FIB are: To investigate into the representations of shippers or shippers’ councils relating to high/ anomalous/ discriminatory freight rates and to secure necessary adjustment; To critically examine proposals of Conference Lines on periodic increases in freight rates and to provide guidance to shippers’ councils with a view to enabling them to have an effective dialogue with Conferences on such proposals; To provide spot assistance to shippers all over the country in procuring timely and adequate shipping space; To collect, maintain and examine freight rates of Conferences/Ship-ping Lines operating in India’s overseas trade and also in international cross trade;
To analyze the impact of changes in freight rates and to keep shippers’ councils and other organizations concerned posted on such amendments; To investigate into complaints regarding lack of shipping facilities; To serve as a liaison organization between shippers and shipping companies to solve shipping and freight problems through mutual consultation.
Fundamentally, The Directorate General of Shipping was responsible for the regulation of ocean freight rates and provision of shipping space in overseas and coastal trades for the benefit of shippers. This work was handed by organization of the Directorate known as Freight Investigation Bureau.However, since 1986, the Bureau is abolished as the industry faced a prolonged recession during the 70’s and 80’s wherein the shippers were able to get the space at the freight rates they desired. The Directorate was also not supported with any statutory powers to deal with the commercial disputes of shippers and ship-owners.As a result, freights are now governed by market forces.
The Directorate General of Shipping, India deals with implementation of shipping policy and legislation so as to ensure the safety of life and ships at sea, prevention of marine pollution, promotion of maritime education and training in co-ordination with the International Maritime Organization, regulation of employment and welfare of seamen, development of coastal shipping, augmentation of shipping tonnage, examination and certification of Merchant Navy Officers, Supervision and Control of the allied offices under its administrative jurisdiction.The subject of Shipping was, in the beginning, dealt with by the Ministry of Commerce, till 1949 and subsequently, in 1951, it was shifted to the Ministry of Transport and Shipping. In 1947, the Government of India announced the National Policy on Shipping, aiming at the total development of the industry. In order to accelerate the developmental efforts, the necessity for a centralized Administrative organization was felt and accordingly, it was in September 1949, the Directorate General of Shipping with its Headquarters at Bombay was established.
The initial objectives of the Directorate General of Shipping were : Matters affecting Merchant Shipping & navigation and administration of the Merchant Shipping Law ; Measures to ensure safety of life and ships at sea; Development of Indian Shipping; International Conventions relating to Maritime matters; Provision of facilities for training of Officers and ratings for Merchant Navy; Regulation of Employment of Seamen and there welfare; Development of Sailing Vessel Industry and Regulation of Ocean freight rates in overseas trades.
The Director General of Shipping has under his Administrative control the following offices and institutions:-1. Office of the Principal Officer, Mercantile Marine Department, Calcutta, Mumbai and Madras with subordinate offices at Jamnagar and Goa under the Principal Officer, Mumbai, Cochin, Vishakhapatnam and Tuticorin under the Principal Officer, Madras and Port Blair under the Principal Officer, Mercantile Marine Department, Calcutta.2. Training Ship “Chanakya”, Mumbai headed by a Captain Superintendent, which provides training to navigating side.3. Marine Engineering Research Institute, Calcutta and Mumbai, each headed by a Director and a Deputy Director respectively, which provide pre- sea training to cadets in marine engineering.4. Lal Bahadur Shastri College of Advanced Maritime Studies and Research, Mumbai headed by a Principal, which provides post sea instruction in Navigation and Engineering to candidates preparing for M.O.T. Examinations for various grades of Certificate of Competency.
5. Shipping Offices, Mumbai and Calcutta, each headed by a Shipping Master.6. Seamens Employment offices, Mumbai and Calcutta, each headed by a Director to regulate employment to Seamen on Ships on the Principle of rotation.7. Seamens Welfare Office, Madras headed by a Seamens Welfare officer to look after the welfare of seamen.8. First Secretary (Shipping), High Commission for India in London, to keep liaison with International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Government of India and also to look after other matters related to Indian Merchant Shipping.9. Regional Offices (Sails), Mumbai, Calicut, Tuticorin and Jamnagar each headed by a Regional officers (Sails), which assist the sailing vessels owners in organizing themselves or better securing of cargo, standardization of trade practices, elimination of malpractice and look after the Welfare and amenities of seafarers under sail.