Splash Shipmanagement Market Report 2024

Page 1

COALS TO NEWCASTLE

How shipmanagers should redefine their pitch

Distributed at Posidonia

Market Report 2024 SHIPMANAGEMENT

It is an untenable situation that seafarers are once again

Ian Beveridge, BSM

We have to grasp the nettle and raise standards

Mark O’Neil, president of InterManager

We are moving away from the traditional transactional approach towards closer, collaborative partnerships

Angad Banga, Caravel Group

With a large fleet, you are always a broker’s first or second call in the morning

John Michael Radziwill, C Transport Maritime

Ours is a conservative industry because of the commercial consequences of missing out on something

Cynthia Worley, vice president at SEDNA

Achieving gender balance remains a work in progress

Eline Muller, Multraship Towage and Salvage

1 www.splash247.com 3 Editor’s Comment 5 Introduction 11 InterManger 13 Defining The Sector 17 Consolidation 21 Top 8 29 The Pitch 33 Staff Retention 37 Skills 43 New Areas For Crew 47 Pricing 51 Pools 55 Geneva Dry 59 Tech 65 Opinion THE LINEUP
caught in the crossfire of geopolitical tensions
7 11 13 51 55 68
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Managers descend upon Athens

Posidonia is upon us - a chance for bronzed shipowners, sporting expensive, tailor-made, open neck shirts, Armani chinos and Gucci loafers, to parade their wealth and wisdom across Athens and Piraeus for a week or two.

For me personally, I don’t think I could handle being a shipowner these days. The admin of running a mediumsized shipping media business is more than enough of a headache - and one I am lucky enough largely to delegate to folk far more responsible than your humble editor.

Shipping’s increasingly complex, fragmented bureaucratic requirements are a minefield, and for all the talk of AI, etc, I cannot see this burden getting any easier. Transactions and general form filling in the maritime industry continue to rely heavily on manual, unstructured and paper-intensive processes, with regulators demanding ever more reams of information.

Cue the shipmanager, surely? The argument to outsource has never been

stronger, and yet less than one in five ships are farmed out to managers today. What is the sector doing wrong in appealing to its clientele? How best to get this message across? This forms much of the coverage in this 68-page publication being distributed online, across the world in print and in person at the Splash-sponsored Posidonia. Other areas under the microscope include staff retention, skills upgrading, new areas for crew, pricing, tech developments plus some of the finest maritime opinion writers around towards the back of the magazine.

Stay tuned for more magazines from our Special Reports division later this year, including titles on Hong Kong and Singapore.

Shipping’s bureaucratic requirements are not going to get any easier
3 www.splash247.com EDITOR’S COMMENT
Market Report 2024
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Sales and marketing teams have work to do

Now has never been a better time to sell the pros of outsourcing ships. Why aren’t the world’s managers raking in far more clients?

5 www.splash247.com INTRODUCTION
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There’s a strong argument that sales staff at the world’s top shipmanagers are failing in their job.

Today’s complex trading and regulatory environment makes the case for outside expertise more strongly than at anytime since the concept of thirdparty shipmanagement was conceived in the late 1960s. And yet less than 20% of the world merchant fleet is outsourced to managers. Moreover, despite all the

chat of consolidation within the sector, the number of ships under full technical management among the world’s eight largest shipmanagers has actually shrunk in the year since Splash published its last sector-specific title. Sales and marketing

teams are clearly not getting their message across correctly. A theme throughout this magazine is identifying the role of shipmanagement in the mid-2020s, and by extension how managers should be finessing their pitch to clients.

Shipowners by their nature are not necessarily the easiest of candidates to sell outsourcing products to - traditions handed from generation to generation have seen to that, mentalities are ringfenced.

“Many owners wish to manage their own vessels, as this has been a way to ensure longevity, quality, control, and transparency,” says Marlon Rono, the veteran president of Manilaheadquartered Magsaysay People Resouces Corporation.

Rajiv Singhal, managing director

There is a need for a manager to provide the full spectrum of services previously not required

Dangerous seas

Seafarers have faced the most dangerous waters in a generation over the past six months with the Red Sea descending into dangerous chaos with close to 100 vessels targeted by Iranianbacked Houthis from Yemen, the return of Somali piracy to the south, the Black Sea remaining a theatre of war between Russia and Ukraine, and countless safety issues created by the huge growth of the so-called dark fleet of tankers hauling exports for Russia, Iran and Venezuela. Seafarers have died, many have been kidnapped, and families back on home shores have suffered enormous anguish in these immense times of maritime disruption.

Kuba Szymanski, the secretary-general of InterManager, a global shipmanagement association, tells Splash: “The safety of seafarers is paramount. We are finding that proactive shipowners are rerouting their ships.”

“It is an untenable situation that

seafarers are once again caught in the crossfire of geopolitical tensions. Having already borne a substantial burden during the coronavirus pandemic and becoming pawns in the Black Sea, they now face being targeted in the Red Sea. Merchant shipping needs safe corridors,” says Ian Beveridge, CEO of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.

“It’s only through united efforts that we can assist seafarers during these trying times. Prioritising mental health and aiding crewmembers in their time of crisis is crucial,” comments Charles Watkins, CEO of Mental Health Support Solutions.

We provide seafarers with dedicated coverage on life at sea
www.splash247.com INTRODUCTION
7
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of MTM Ship Management, lists the five reasons owners ought to be using managers more: specialisation, compliance, adjustability, economies of scale, and transparency.

“Apart from scale and wide sector technical expertise, we believe a manager can also bring in fresh perspectives, latest technological insights and ideas, and create innovative tailored solutions for shipowners, and new business opportunities as well,” says Captain Zhou Jianfeng, managing director of Wah Kwong Maritime Transport Holdings. “We believe the trend of closer partnerships will continue along the supply chain in the face of the rapidly changing landscape of geopolitics and decarbonisation developments.”

This is an opinion shared by

The

past, present, and the future of shipmanagement is a partnership model

Magsaysay’s Rono. “I think we are seeing there being more value in a manager that does more for an owner especially in world of increasing requirements for our industry, there is a need for a manager to provide the full spectrum of services previously not required,” he says.

Like Zhou at Wah Kwong, John Michael Radziwill is in a good position to comment on the whole shipping outsourcing conundrum, being both an owner with GoodBulk and a manager with C Transport Maritime.

“Each situation is unique and each owner’s position is specific to them,” he says, going on to elaborate: “Two of

The glass ceiling

Is there a glass ceiling in shipmanagement? How soon until someone from the opposite sex occupies your corner office? This was asked provocatively by Splash to the world’s top 100 managers - all of whom happen to be male.

“It is no secret that shipping is an industry dominated by men, particularly in respect to crews on ships,” says Bjorn Hojgaard, CEO of Anglo-Eastern. “While there is movement to change this and encourage more diversity, this will not happen instantly, nor without merit and the technical understanding to deliver on these roles.”

“There is no question that we need to do better concerning diversity and the representation of women in the shipping industry,” concedes Ian Beveridge, CEO of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM)

BSM has made positive progress in onshore women’s representation, currently standing at 46%, targeting having 40% women in managerial roles by the end of this year.

“While progress is evident onshore, the scenario is different for sea

the most important things to compare however versus in-house ability is cost and competencies.

Can a manager perform the required task cheaper, more efficiently and with a better performance than an owner can do it in-house?”

If they cannot provide these services at competitive costs then managers will become obsolete, he warns.

“The past, present, and the future of shipmanagement is a partnership model,” concludes Ioannis Stefanou, managing director of Wallem Shipmanagement.

The question remains however who is buying into this mantra?

personnel,” Beveridge admits with women representing only 2% of seafarers.

Recognising the untapped talent pool of women with maritime education and training, BSM is actively working to increase the number of women in its cadet program.

“As an industry we cannot afford glass ceilings,” says Andrew Airey, who heads up Thailand’s Highland Maritime. “The quicker we fully adopt, facilitate and award successful male - female teams the quicker we can advance to meet the multiple challenges we face. Good management comes from skill, care, discipline, and inclusivity. It has nothing to do with gender.”

Cultural barriers have to be broken, urges Vinay Gupta, managing director of Union Marine Management Services.

“I am seeing some change in the mindset of the owners who are ready to accept women onboard but we need to also create a steady stream of supply of serious crewmembers who want to make shipping as a career,” he says.

“We firmly believe that it is not a question of if, but rather when someone from the opposite sex will occupy our senior management positions,” insists Angad Banga, chief operating officer at the Caravel Group.

9 www.splash247.com INTRODUCTION
SHIPPING
MARITIME SERVICES . LOGISTICS . ENERGY . LEISURE INNOVATION BEYOND

Raising standards and embracing challenges

Third-party shipmanagement is changing. Splash sits down with the head of the industry’s trade association, Mark O’Neil

InterManager, the international trade association for third-party ship managers, is adapting. Aiming to improve standards and transparency across the entire shipmanagement sector, the association recently introduced a set of general principles of conduct and action which require all its members to undertake an initial self-assessment process and undergo intermittent external assessment.

As InterManager president Mark O’Neil explains, the process is not onerous and the result not a matter of pass or fail. “The purpose of this is not discriminatory. The purpose is to aspire and to improve. We’re giving the industry a means to differentiate between their ship managers to ensure they get the best services for their ships from the most suitable providers.”

Modern ships are valuable assets with a range of evolving technology onboard. As the number of non-maritime asset management companies investing in ships has increased there is a now a greater demand for managers to manage these assets safely, efficiently and costeffectively.

O’Neil points out: “Today the best shipmanagers are trusted partners to their shipowner clients. We are co-partners and if we are able to work together more closely and collaboratively, we achieve the best of all worlds and overall the service will improve.”

InterManager’s key goal over the coming year is to raise standards and

to consolidate shipmanagement’s position within the shipping industry. The challenge is to bring joinedup added value to the operation of ships. InterManager members all subscribe to the belief that third-party shipmanagement, when done well, can be as effective as, if not better than, in-house management.

The general principles focus on four key areas: care and respect for people; effective safety culture; continuous development and optimisation; and assessment and verification. Two years in development, they are now in force and InterManager members are working their way through the self-assessment process, enabling them to identify strengths and areas for improvement within their businesses.

O’Neil comments: “As an industry we have to grasp the nettle and raise standards.

Shipping needs to support improvement by discriminating between those companies that raise standards and those who don’t.”

The range of services offered by shipmanagers is increasing and will evolve further to support owners navigating the mounting tide of environmental regulations as the industry sails towards net zero. Today’s shipmanagers offer a broad range of services, beyond the traditional technical and crew management.

Speaking with one voice for this increasingly prominent sector,

InterManager has non-governmental organisation (NGO) status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is also in close contact with the European Union and other regulatory bodies. Working with other industry stakeholders it ensures legislators have a proper understanding of how the complicated global shipping industry works, ensuring the ‘polluter pays’ philosophy is achieved, and regulation is workable at a grass roots level.

We have to grasp the nettle and raise standards
11 www.splash247.com INTERMANAGER
Buxtehude | Busan | Manila | Shanghai |Singapore | Colombo Ship Management | Newbuilding | Crewing | Training „There is a way to do it better - find it!“ Thomas Edison, 1847-1931 WE FOUND IT.

Which party are managers at today?

Are

the old days of third-party management redundant?

Claiming the old days of third-party management were out, and that second-party management was a better description of the business these days, Mark O’Neil, head of Columbia Group, created one of the big talking points at the last Monaco Maritime CEO Forum (pictured). It’s a topic managers have subsequently had to assess - just how do you define the business of shipmanagement in 2024?

“The term third-party can indeed imply a certain distance or detachment, which may not accurately reflect the collaborative nature of many business relationships,” says Mingfa Liu, managing director at IMC Ship Services.

When outsourcing, he reckons clients typically seek more than just a service provider; they seek a partner who shares

their goals and values, and is genuinely committed to their success.

“Referring to this partner as a second party emphasises the alignment of interests and responsibilities between the client and the service provider, fostering a sense of mutual trust and partnership,” Liu says. “This linguistic shift can indeed enhance the perception of the relationship and strengthen the bond between the parties involved.”

The landscape of third-party management is indeed evolving, concurs Angad Banga, chief operating officer at the Caravel Group, which runs Fleet Management, the world’s second largest shipmanager.

“We are moving away from the traditional transactional approach towards closer, collaborative

partnerships,” he says. “This shift is motivated by the need for greater alignment, shared objectives, and mutually beneficial outcomes.”

Regulatory expertise

Vikrant Gusain, the CEO of Dockendale Ship Management, says the shift towards second-party management reflects a more integrated and proactive approach to vessel management.

“Moreover,” he says, “acknowledging additional responsibilities, including managing commercial aspects like EU ETS compliance, highlights shipmanagement’s evolving role and scope in meeting industry demands and regulatory requirements.”

Quite so, agrees Tim Ponath, CEO

It is necessary for partners to dance together
13 www.splash247.com
DEFINING THE SECTOR

Second-party shipmanagement suggests a move towards a more intertwined, partnership-driven model

at NSB GROUP, who reckons that as owners get more and more technically knowledgeable to meet their expectations regarding aspects such as increasing regulations, compliance, performance monitoring and reporting requires closer collaboration.

“Shared values are mandatory in this relationship,” Ponath insists.

Clarifying the context

The specific terms a manager chooses to describe his or her relationship with customers may evolve, but it’s not crucial to predetermine these labels, argues Olav Nortun, the chief operating officer at OSM Thome.

“What’s important,” Nortun

says, “is to clarify the context to grasp the distinctions: Third-party shipmanagement is a recognised term for outsourced management services, whereas second-party shipmanagement suggests a move towards a more intertwined, partnership-driven model. This latter approach emphasises a closer, more integrated relationship between the shipowner and the management provider, aiming for a more synergistic collaboration.”

100% agreeing with O’Neil’s assertion on the definition, Vinay Gupta, managing director of Union Marine Management Services, tells Splash managers must see themselves as partners of shipowners rather than as a third-party entity “immune to the environment and the

chaotic landscape”.

“With the industry as dynamic as ours, it is necessary for the partners to dance together and ensure the rhythm is maintained to ride the peaks and jump the troughs to maximise profit and minimise losses,” Gupta says.

This can only happen, Gupta says, if owners and managers are in “complete sync”.

“Understand the need of the hour, customise the services as the situation demands and exercise caution to mitigate the risks involves,” Gupta advises, pointing out: “This was the business model that was originally envisaged when shipmanagement was outsourced and we are circling back to this philosophy for the right reason.”

For the latest news on shipmanagement, seafarers and ship operations

15 www.splash247.com DEFINING THE SECTOR

Pros and cons in the big is better debate

Not everyone is convinced that mergers make for a better client

Shipmanagement as a sector of shipping has been going through its own fair share of consolidation, something most polled for this magazine believe is a trend that will continue.

There are, however, many managers around the world fighting back against the ‘bigger is better’ argument.

Interestingly too for the first time since Splash has been tracking these numbers the scale of the top eight managers (see page 21) has actually declined year-onyear. The total fleet number under full technical management of the world’s top eight managers actually declined 3% year-on-year, suggesting there is still a healthy demand for medium and smaller managers.

Private equity leads the way

Private equity is responsible for much of the recent merger mania, and they now control several shipmanagement companies. Private equity was behind last

year’s biggest management merger - OSM and Thome - for instance.

“These investors believe in economies of scale and target any shipmanager that can contribute to inorganic growth,” says Ian Beveridge, CEO of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the world’s fifth largest manager.

Beveridge argues that merging larger shipmanagement operations does not create significant value, particularly for customers.

“More crucial than sheer size is a high level of alignment in terms of quality and culture,” he tells Splash.

“Consolidation only makes sense where there is synergy in the process and where the consolidated whole is greater than the sum of its component parts,” says Mark O’Neil, who heads up Columbia Group out of Cyprus, a company that is the joint

experience

seventh largest manager in the world.

An attractive takeover target, according to O’Neil, is one which offers geographical or specific service advantage, or one which offers additional scale.

“Importantly,” O’Neil says, “it must be a takeover as opposed to merger which brings with it too many associated problems of culture and legacy.”

Vikrant Gusain, the CEO of Dubaibased Dockendale Ship Management, reckons consolidation in the sector is likely to continue due to shrinking profit margins. Moreover, he says certain companies find themselves in the mature phase of their lifecycle hence, they need to move towards M&A for sustained growth.

“When evaluating attractive takeover targets, mismanagement or ageing leadership often emerge as key indicators,” Gusain says.

More crucial than sheer size is a high level of alignment in terms of quality and culture
17 www.splash247.com
CONSOLIDATION
Quality Ship Management Services for Over 40 Years commercial@norbulkshipping.com | www.norbulkshipping.com
It all comes down to finding the right partners

Such targets, he says, offer acquiring firms the opportunity to inject fresh vision, operational efficiency, and strategic direction into their operations, thus positioning themselves for enhanced competitiveness and sustained growth.

The boutique argument

Many outside the top eight polled for this magazine argue that there’s still plenty of demand for smaller managers, something that is borne out too with the latest management statistics that show stronger percentage growth among second tier managers.

“It is often seen that bigger managers

tend to lose focus, suffer from inertia, get complacent, arrogant and disdainful with their smaller clients,” claims Vinod Sehgal, the CEO of Hong Kong’s SeaQuest Shipmanagement.

“Consolidation may make economic sense to the manager,” he says, “but the benefits may not always be passed on to their clients.”

While he sees further takeovers in the quest for economies of scale, Piyush Sharma, group director of corporate strategy at Germany’s NSB Group, tells Splash: “As a boutique manager we have a clear focus on strategic partnerships where we join forces to increase our service portfolio.”

Another perspective, he says, is to

establish new businesses that go beyond traditional shipmanagement activities.

Quite so, agrees Vinay Gupta, managing director of Singapore-based Union Marine Management Services.

“Strategic alliances are healthy for the industry and enhance customer satisfaction,” he says, going on to argue that there will always be space for medium sized organic organisations like his own organisation which is able to remain a boutique with a niche clientele.

Concluding, Marlon Rono, president and CEO of Manila-headquartered Magsaysay People Resources Corporation, says: “Consolidation will continue for sure. It all comes down to finding the right partners.”

19 www.splash247.com
CONSOLIDATION
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managers

The world’s largest shipmanagers

ships under full technical management)

Source: Splash estimates as of May 1

What the top eight managers have been up to recently

Anglo-Eastern

To remain in the top eight tends to take plenty of audacious mergers. Out at the top by some margin is Hong Kong’s Anglo-Eastern, led by Bjorn Hojgaard and chaired by Peter Cremers.

In April, the company sealed a deal to buy Euronav’s shipmanagement arm in Greece. The deal for Euronav Ship Management Hellas will also see the duo join forces, with Anglo-Eastern assuming shipmanagement responsibilities for the tankers currently under Euronav’s management.

“Anglo-Eastern has been established for 50 years and now stands with a fleet of over 650 ships under technical shipmanagement with a further 250 under crew management. This stability

and growth underpin the value that we bring to our clients and prospects,” Hojgaard tells Splash. “Fundamentally,” he says, “we are able to leverage our scale to share best practices and apply cost efficient procurement processes that provide access to the latest technologies, data and skills.”

On the human side, Hojgaard says his company is able to supply crewmembers that are trained to the highest standards at Anglo-Eastern’s own academy and training centres.

“This is a key differentiator and enables deployment of seafarers with strong skillsets that cater to the specific needs of our clients,” Hojgaard says.

At Anglo-Eastern’s flagship training centre in Mumbai the latest installation to the state-of-the-art facilities include

We are able to leverage our scale to share best practices
World’s top
V.Ships Anglo-Eastern
BSM
496 710 428 628 334 645 327 327
Synergy Fleet
(by
TOP 8

Fleet

Hong Kong can boast not just the largest shipmanager in the world, but also the second biggest too.

Turning 30 this year, Hong Kong’s Fleet Management has begun the search for a new managing director as co-founder Kishore Rajvanshy decided to step down from the role after three decades.

As part of the leadership transition, Angad Banga, chief operating officer of Fleet parent company, The Caravel Group, will co-lead Fleet with Rajvanshy.

Rajvanshy will continue to manage the technical, seafarer personnel, quality, health, safety and environmental departments, and Banga, who is also the current chairman of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, will oversee all other divisions.

Our company

Rajvanshy joined Hong Kong-based commodities trader Noble Group in November 1994 to establish Fleet Management before it was acquired by diversified conglomerate The Caravel Group.

“As I prepare to pass the baton to the next generation, I am confident that the company’s future is bright and that it will continue to set industry standards for years to come. This is a landmark strategic move to mark our 30th anniversary year, to build on our rocksolid foundations and take the company to the next level,” Rajvanshy said.

“Our company stands at the intersection of tradition and innovation. Leading our extraordinary team is a privilege, and we stand poised to continue to lead safety standards, embrace innovation and pursue new opportunities

stands at the intersection of tradition and innovation

to serve our clients and the broader industry,” Banga said.

Last July, Transworld Group and Fleet Management established a new shipmanagement joint venture, Transworld Fleet Management, the latest in a series of shipowner/manager tie-ups around the world.

Synergy

On March 26 this year life changed for many working at Singapore’s Synergy Group. On that day, thousands of kilometres away from headquarters, the 9,962 teu Dali containership, managed by Synergy, lost power while leaving Baltimore port and slammed into - and brought down - the city’s largest bridge. This monumental accident, which killed six road maintenance workers, has seen the staff onboard not allowed to leave ship, but Synergy has been on hand with plenty of supportive measures to try and ensure its crew are okay.

Last August, Rajesh Unni, Synergy’s founder, stepped back from the day-today running of the company, moving to executive chairman and handing over duties to deputies Mathavan Subbiah, Hari Swaminathan and Ajay Chaudhary.

Synergy has recently formed a joint venture with Wisdom Marine to run the Taiwanese owner’s dry bulk tonnage.

23 www.splash247.com TOP 8

V.Group

The rumour mill has suggested V.Group has been for sale for the last couple of years, but as we went to print there was still no sign that this shipmanagement giant was close to sealing a deal.

On the contrary, V.Group has continued to seek its own acquisition targets to remain a top four manager globally.

Last year the company bought out Singapore-based Belships Management, a technical and crewing management company established in 1983, currently managing dry bulk vessels for Belships and other international clients.

René Kofod-Olsen, CEO of V.Group, said the deal was a major step in the group’s strategy of partnering with “firsttime outsourcers among blue-chip vessel owners”.

In April this year, V.Group opened an office in Oman, expanding its presence in the Middle East.

Since late last year the group has been providing carbon trading solutions for shipowners in partnership with Aither, a carbon credits specialist.

BSM

Aiming to close what it sees as a gap between academic knowledge and practical training, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) has just introduced a new educational programme for future seafarers.

According to BSM, the global merchant fleet will face a shortage of thousands of officers in the coming years. The education programme, named BSM Smart Academy, is a collaboration with several maritime universities and will attempt to address the shortage of skilled labour in

the maritime sector, in particular at sea. Specifically, the BSM Smart Academy provides for nautical, technical, and electrical undergraduates from participating maritime universities to take part in the programme as designated BSM cadets following the completion of their first year.

Quizzed on how to attract owners to outsource their ships, Ian Beveridge, BSM’s CEO, tells Splash: “Ultimately, the key lies in persuading the owner that our management services surpass in-house alternatives in both effectiveness and efficiency.”

Our management services surpass in-house alternatives in both effectiveness and efficiency
25 www.splash247.com TOP 8
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OSM Thome

The past year has been all about smoothing the integration at OSM Thome, a mega merger of Scandinavian/ Singaporean origins.

Competition authorities approved the merger of OSM Maritime Group and Thome Group in May last year. The merged company is headquartered in Arendal, Norway.

“Choosing OSM Thome as their partner, shipowners can achieve optimal

performance levels while minimising costs and risks, with the assurance that their vessels are managed to the highest standards of excellence,” claims Olav Nortun, the company’s chief operating officer. “Outsourcing the management of ships to a third-party manager like OSM Thome brings significant advantages for shipowners, combining regulatory expertise, economies of scale, strong industry relationships, and a commitment to optimising vessel performance.”

Choosing OSM Thome as their partner, shipowners can achieve optimal performance levels

Wilhelmsen

In December Wilhelmsen Ship Management and MPC Capital agreed to acquire 100 % of the company Zeaborn Ship Management. The acquisition is the next milestone in the partnership between Wilhelmsen and MPC Capital and their shipmanagement joint venture Wilhelmsen Ahrenkiel Ship Management and tanker specialist Barber Ship Management.

Zeaborn manages a fleet of around 100 vessels, which are managed from offices in Hamburg, Limassol, Singapore

Columbia

Busy shipmanangement giant Columbia Group formed a new venture capital firm named Galactic Beacon Ventures at the start of this year to help drive innovation in maritime and other sectors.

“Galactic Beacon Ventures, powered by the Columbia Group, provides a guiding light and support for entrepreneurs worldwide,” says Mark O’Neil, president

and CEO at Columbia Group.

Last October, the group opened a new manning agency in Vietnam.

A month prior to that, Columbia signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Hong Kong-listed shipowner and operator Seacon Shipping Group that will see the Qingdao-based company’s Chinese-owned and operated vessels managed as clients out of the manager’s Greek office.

and Manila.

Speaking with Splash, Carl Schou, Wilhelmsen Ship Management’s president, says consolidation in shipmanagement is vital to stay relevant.

“We are seeing there is a lot more consolidation and with the latest regulation requirements the sector is moving beyond nuts and bolts management. In order to manage all of this you need certain economies of scale and a global footprint,” Schou says, adding: “Being in the top 10 as we are today in my subjective view you need to be there to make an impact.”

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Painting a more convincing image

Shipmanagers need to up their game when it comes to their sales pitches. Splash canvasses opinion on how best to get the right message across to principles

On paper, the pitch to owners ought to be a simple one. “We can save you money and time,” is the line invariably trotted out by myriad managers seeking business from shipowners around the world. And yet, appealing to a client’s bottom line is not delivering the business volumes it should.

“Currently, less than 20% of the global fleet is under third-party management, indicating a significant untapped potential,” concedes Ian Beveridge, the CEO of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM). The sales spiel clearly needs refining.

“It’s crucial to demonstrate tangible added value to justify the decision to entrust shipmanagement to a third party,” Beveridge says.

Value creation

“The only reason a shipowner would consider outsourcing management would be based on one simple reason

– value creation,” admits Vinay Gupta, the managing director of Union Marine Management Services (UMMS).

Owners need to be convinced that a manager can add value into the business, either through their size, proficiency, economies of scale or geographical footprint, Gupta says.

“Specialisation is the key,” says Ioannis Stefanou, managing director at Wallem Shipmanagement.

“Owners can focus on what they do best and what matters most which is taking strategic commercial decisions for their assets. They can rely for the dayto-day management of their assets on professionals whose only job is to manage ships safely and efficiently.”

This, says Steafanou, will allow owners to also expand or scale down their fleet or enter new segments as they deem fit without having to adjust their shore side

organisation or scramble to find crews.

Regulatory minefield

There is another aspect to the pitch that is taking on ever greater importance.

“The constant change in the regulatory environment is slowly nudging owners to outsource as each change demands additional resource and becomes unviable for small and medium size owners,” Gupta from UMMS says, stressing: “The business case is simple - let the experts handle.”

“We are seeing there is a lot more consolidation and with the latest regulation requirements the sector is moving beyond nuts and bolts management. In order to manage all of this you need certain economies of scale and a global footprint,” says Carl Schou, the president of Wilhelmsen Ship Management.

Less than 20% of the global fleet is under thirdparty management
29 www.splash247.com THE PITCH

“Engaging external managers brings a host of benefits to businesses as they bring specialised knowledge, objective viewpoints, and a flexible approach that drives success. They help businesses make better decisions, identify blind spots, and seize new opportunities,” says Angad Banga, chief operating officer at the Caravel Group, which oversees Fleet Management, the world’s second largest shipmanager.

Not a binary decision

The in-house/out-house management dichotomy is too simplistic an approach for today’s complex maritime and logistics sector, argues Mark O’Neil, the head of Columbia Group, in conversation

With the latest regulation requirements the sector is moving beyond nuts and bolts management

with Splash.

“This is not a binary decision any longer,” he says, adding: “Rather than persuading an owner to outsource services we should rather focus on the enhanced and added value which can be derived from a much closer and true partnership of interests between an owner/operator and a scaled integrated maritime services provider.”

Finally, Andrew Airey, who heads up Bangkok-based manager Highland Maritime, has this warning for

companies who focus solely on in-house management.

“Only one company way might become a comfortable rut,” he says, adding other risks such as the familiar protecting network of suppliers, and a potential narrower knowledge and experience base.

Many managers too point out the value of benchmarking. Owners are advised to dip their toes into the outsourced world to gain a greater understanding of how they’re doing inhouse.

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Keeping crew content

Staff retention rates are an important metric for all managers. Here’s some advice to ensure employees stay put

Attracting and retaining qualified employees is undoubtedly challenging during times of skills shortage.

Officer supply shortage has hit an all-time high and is unlikely to improve, resulting in manning cost inflation, according to a recent study published by shipping consultants Drewry.

Drewry said the 2023 officer availability gap had widened to a deficit equating to about 9% of the global pool, up from 2022’s 5% shortfall and the highest level since it first started analysing the seafarer market 18 years ago.

The consultancy forecasts similar deficit levels through to 2028 based on the limits of new seafarer supply becoming available. “While these deficit levels are based on vessel numbers together with assumptions on crewing levels and so largely theoretical, they clearly indicate that the seafarer labour market has become particularly tight, with important implications for recruitment and retention as well as manning costs,” Drewry noted.

Three Ms

Market-based pay and good working conditions for seafarers are a prerequisite, says Ioannis Stefanou, the

The

seafarer labour market has become particularly tight

managing director of shipmanagement at Wallem.

“Traditionally, the three Ms - money; mail, ensuring open communication access, such as internet onboard; and meals – were considered crucial for recruitment and seafarer satisfaction. However, in today’s landscape, these alone are no longer sufficient,” explains Ian Beveridge, the CEO of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM).

Factors such as working conditions, health and welfare, and career opportunities have become equally vital, he says.

At BSM, top management acknowledges the importance of involving employees in decision-making processes.

“They seek trust, reliability, collaboration, and a sense of belonging. Our ongoing efforts address all these aspects to provide our sea staff with an attractive overall package,” Beveridge says.

BSM carries out regular satisfaction surveys, makes sure its staff are offered attractive compensation and benefit packages, career development through advanced training programmes, and

flexible work arrangements.

“Additionally,” says Beveridge, “a company’s ability to innovate, sustainable initiatives, an open corporate culture, and strong company values play pivotal roles in employee satisfaction.”

Beyond minimum standards

“The process of having a satisfied customer starts with a satisfied employee,” says Vinay Gupta, the managing director of Union Marine Management Services, who believes firmly in the mantra that you must treat people with fairness.

“Mutual trust and mutual respect has been a cornerstone and that has resulted in our staff becoming our brand ambassadors,” Gupta says.

Peter Schellenberger, founder of maritime consultancy Novamaxis, has some advice to keep crew happy.

The two big challenges for quality managers going forward, as he sees it, seem to be the availability of competent and well-trained crew across all matrixes and how to escape the compromises in delivering quality following years of intense price pressure.

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As a consequence of this and following what he describes as “merciless” budget negotiations a lot of concessions have been made, even pertaining to training expenses and essential needs like proper nutrition and catering budgets.

“Even more surprisingly,” Schellenberger says, “it still hasn’t fully filtered through to all that connectivity and giving such proper allocations to crew is the top retention factor, just ahead of shore leave and adherence to contract considerations.”

Solutions to hand for shipmanagers, according to Schellenberger, range from good training, seafarer - and family - engagement programs, proper care in terms of medical, nutritional and psychological support with more than minimum standards required as by owners, but also clearly agreed service levels between manager and crew that are not negotiable by “greedy” clients, something that will also draw quality clients in the end.

“Everyone broadly agrees that ship operators need to view their people as an investment rather than a cost, but that is easier said than done. Human capital management is about giving leaders the tools to be able to justify those investments through a data-driven approach to recruitment, onboarding, training, performance, and retention,”

A satisfied customer starts with a satisfied employee

suggests Nick Chubb, the founder of tech consultancy Thetius. “If ship operators employ a human capital management approach as a core part of their strategy, they will retain talent, improve operational efficiencies and future-proof their business.”

Training benefits

Staff retention starts with training and the entry point into the industry, argues Bjorn Hojgaard, the CEO of shipmanagement giant Anglo-Eastern. Anglo-Eastern remains the only large shipmanager with its own pre-sea academy. Across the group it has more than 500 yearly cadet seats, and for that it receives more than 22,000 annual applicants. The company also has more than 50 specialised courses for upskilling senior officers and key ranks.

Use of current technology and applications that appeal to younger generations such as Beekeeper that can recreate the essence of fraternity for crewmembers and connect them with the shore staff is something deemed important by Rajiv Singhal, the boss of MTM.

“Similarly,” he says, “the provision

of internet onboard the ships has undoubtedly become the industry norm that has significantly changed life onboard and ship-shore connectivity.”

Recent surveys have shown that internet availability for crew onboard is the number one priority for seafarers, he points out.

“Access to email, messaging, calling and internet is vitally important for seafarer morale, wellbeing and links to family. Poor connectivity contributes to isolation from family and life at home,” states a recent report from Idwal, a British surveying firm.

“We can do better, and many good companies do,” concludes Steven Jones, the founder of the Seafarers Happiness Index. “However, while the number of vessels which do not allow seafarers the right to be connected outweigh the percentage which have unlimited access, then we clearly still have work to do. It is time for a change, and it should be hoped that the capability to apply a social sense check to the ways in which ships go about their business, then we can build a better, brighter reality for life at sea. We can see the impact of doing good reflected in the market value of the vessel, and that has to be progress.”

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Tomorrow’s seafarer today

How can shipping upskill its workforce at sea when the industry is not 100% sure what future ships will look like?

The never-ending evolution of shipping technology requires a workforce in a permanent state of flux, constantly learning and always adapting to requirements from the digitalisation and decarbonisation of the global maritime fleet.

A large number of vessels from the existing fleet are not suitable for retrofitting but, at the same time, International Maritime Organization regulations are imposing carbon emissions targets that will push owners to invest in new and modern vessels already digitalised and running on green fuels, or at least ready for them.

But does the industry have a large enough workforce and, more precisely, does it have a workforce ready to take the challenges of new technologies and alternative fuels entering shipping head on?

The answer for the first part of the question is clearly no as the maritime industry noted a shortage of skilled workers long ago. This is a trend that has been around for years and is absolutely not a new concept.

“One of the primary reasons for this shortage is the increasing demand for shipping services, with global trade volume constantly rising,” says Dockendale Green Marine Ship Management head Vikrant Gusain.

Green workforce

The story of the second part is pretty much the same. This was pointed out recently during the second day of the inaugural Geneva Dry conference during a session regarding decarbonisation in the dry bulk sector. One of the main points made by one of the panellists,

Eman Abdalla, the global operations director at Cargill, was that a major issue for the industry was the availability and the training of seafarers who will be handling future technologies.

“As we witness an increasing number of newbuilds and existing vessels adopting these alternative fuels, the industry must foster collaboration and transparency. This ensures that comprehensive training on managing these new fuels is established well in advance of their operational deployment onboard,” says Olav Nortun, the COO of the Norwegian shipmanagement firm OSM Thome.

DNV data shows a total of 93 new orders for vessels running on alternative fuels have been made in the first four months of 2024, representing a growth of 48% compared to the first four months of 2023.

Seafarers are rethinking life at sea

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A total of 23 new orders for alternative fuelled vessels were registered in April alone. Of the total, 12 were for methanol-fuelled vessels which continue to outperform orders for LNG-fuelled vessels with seven orders in April. Four new orders were placed for ammoniafuelled vessels which brings the total number of orders in 2024 to nine. All these numbers don’t appear as anything significant until factoring in DNV’s estimate for a total of nearly 1,500 vessels using all forms of alternative fuels by 2028.

Post-covid

“In light of covid, seafarers are rethinking life at sea and the risk/reward to it versus having an onshore job closer to their loved ones. Also, technology is developing faster than the crew training possibilities, therefore skills onboard are impacted by the lack of training on new technology,” says John Michael Radziwill, head of dry bulk pool C Transport Maritime and shipowning vehicle GoodBulk.

Handling and working with alternative fuels for propulsion alone requires years of training and onboard experience to see a roster of properly trained individuals,

Opportunities

he says noting the seafarer shortages in Europe and some traditional seafaring nations as interest in working onboard wanes.

Part of the problem facing the industry is not being able 100% to assess what shipping will look like, say, in 10 years’ time and the necessary accompanying skillsets.

“Any disruptive regulatory or compliance processes will always raise a concern about staff skilling. This is compounded by the fact that there is no clear vision or guide path on the decarbonisation strategies, on the best alternative fuel, on the availability, supply and efficacy of the fuels. This is a cause of serious concern. More needs to be done on a consolidated basis from the industry. Various entities are pulling in different directions thus preventing focus on staff skilling on a large and focused scale,” says Vinod Sehgal, CEO of SeaQuest Shipmanagement.

Marlon Rono, the president at Magsaysay Maritime, says that the issue of a skilled workforce is definitely a concern and that the response to it needs plenty of urgency.

“We need to urgently recruit, train and develop the next generation of seafarers

that will be qualified to handle the nextgen ships being developed and built. We need to start now,” he says.

The need for speed when it comes to solving this problem also is not lost on Jan Meyering, joint managing director of Marlow Navigation, who reckons that the introduction of new technologies in the maritime industry has also widened an existing gap in seafarer training and created new training demands.

“We will need to have much closer interaction with stakeholders, namely maritime academies, the industry and regulators to ensure that our seafarers have all the tools they need to run and operate the modern ships efficiently and safely,” he says.

“Our immediate concern is to have a sufficient supply of skilled workforce to manage the situation today and ensure that we can consistently keep them updated with what is happening in the development arena to slowly improve their skill sets that hopefully would match,” says Vinay Gupta, the managing director of Union Marine Management Services.

He also points towards the lack of a level playing field within the shipping industry, which worries him more than the

for continuous learning and adaptation must be provided
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Any disruptive regulatory or compliance processes will always raise a concern about staff skilling

workforce shortage.

“The wage disparity among tankers and dry cargo ships makes it more lucrative for the cream of the crop moving towards the wet and gas industry,” Gupta says.

Adaptive and resilient

The CEO of Columbia Shipmanagement, Mark O’Neil, gives a lot of credit to the seafarers of today, saying they are “wonderfully adaptive and resilient” and therefore extremely receptive to lifelong learning, be it concerning the safe handling of new fuels, new technologies or digital optimisation techniques.

He does admit, however, that there is a major need for upskilling and retraining of thousands of seafarers and that crew managers and employers will have to invest considerably in training, be it traditional in-person, hands-on practical training, or e-learning and simulator training.

Wallem Shipmanagement head Ioannis Stefanou somewhat mirrors this sentiment by recognising that the growing demands of the shipping industry are nothing new.

“Seafarers have been adapting to the increasing demands of the profession. Every change in regulation, every follow-up to a major incident, and every technological advancement brings in its wake increasing expectations,” he tells Splash.

He adds that there is enough information available to identify future skill demands for seafarers and shorebased employees.

A few executives polled for this magazine are actually optimistic, excited even, regarding the prospect of the new skills needed in shipping’s future, seeing it as a way to attract the so far unattractable to enter the shipping circle.

“We are excited by the new skills required for tomorrow’s digital and new fuel challenges. This is exactly what

we need to attract a new generation of maritime graduates into the industry,” says Andrew Airey, managing director of Bangkok-based shipmanager Highland Maritime.

Simon Frank, vice president of crewing operations and business development at German shipping company NSB Group, tells Splash that “of course” his group’s seafarers are ready and that they can adapt to new tasks.

“Alternative fuels are challenges that we meet with our own certified maritime training centre. With that knowledge, there is no need to be concerned,” he maintains.

Concluding, Mingfa Liu, managing director at IMC Ship Services, says: “Ultimately it is a two-way street. As much as today’s seafarers possess valuable experience, opportunities for continuous learning and adaptation must be provided to tackle the challenges ahead, which in turn will be of mutual benefit for the employer and employees.”

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Sourcing the next generation at sea

How will managers ensure they have enough skilled staff in the years ahead?

It’s a theme that appears on many pages of this magazine - the risk of not having enough suitably skilled workers at sea going forward. So just where are the world’s managers looking to fill the ranks in the years ahead?

Crewing specialist Danica’s latest seafarer survey suggests the crew employment market has tipped in favour of seafarers.

“The root cause for today’s wage increases is the combination of a general shortage of very competent seafarers and a better financial situation for most vessel owners,” says Henrik Jensen, CEO of Danica Crewing Specialists. “And, with a surplus of job offers, seafarers can afford to be picky.”

Seafarer shortages are more evident in certain ranks, according to Danica. The survey identified bosuns, cooks and fitters as being in high demand.

Where in the world?

So where to look for more seafarers? Shipping must move away from sourcing crew from the less developed countries

simply because such countries have traditionally provided a cheaper alternative and the most fertile recruiting ground, argues Mark O’Neil, the CEO of Columbia Shipmanagement, in conversation with Splash. The focus must now shift, he says, to attracting talent worldwide and enhancing the standing, career, experience, rewards and variety of a life at sea and thereafter a maritime career ashore.

“Poverty must not remain the most significant recruitment factor for attracting seafarers to a life at sea,” O’Neil says.

Quite so, concurs Ian Beveridge, the CEO of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM).

“However,” he warns, “the allure of a maritime career has diminished in many traditional seafaring countries, leading to challenges for maritime academies in filling their classes.”

Africa

BSM’s perspective sees significant potential in Africa emerging as a major

Seafarers can afford to be picky

source of seafarers. Its crew pool already includes individuals from Ghana, Cameroon, Gambia, Nigeria, and Egypt.

“The traditional source markets will continue to be the backbone, but we recognise the importance of being open to emerging markets that contribute to the diversity and quality assurance of the crew pool,” Beveridge tells Splash.

For John Michael Radziwill, the CEO of pools giant CTM, the most promising areas for finding the next generation of crew are in Southeast Asia in countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

“Well-skilled, mid and lower ranks of crew can already be recruited from there as cultural and language barriers have been coming down,” Radziwill says, while cautioning that for higher ranking crew this is not so widely available yet.

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Crowning Your Journey with Exceptional Care

“Africa will be the next frontier as the population is young and growing rapidly, but for the time being it lacks the education infrastructure,” Radziwill reckons, adding that South America could also emerge as a new source.

Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America are also very much being targeted by OSM Thome. “This strategic direction not only broadens our recruitment horizons but also aligns with our commitment to diversity and adaptability in meeting the evolving needs of the maritime industry,” says the company’s chief operating officer, Olav Nortun.

“To ensure Africa becomes a viable pool of seafarers for generations to come, managers need to avoid the

temptation to rely solely on manning agents and create their own solution, and ensure that the solution is sustainable for years to come,” stresses Craig De Savoye, commercial director at Protection Vessels International, who has seen too many manning agents spring up there in recent years who make promises that are, he says, simply unachievable.

The missing 50%

Rather than looking for new regions, Ioannis Stefanou, managing director of shipmanagement at Wallem, says shipping must first do much more to attract seafarers from the remaining 50% of the population of regions where seafarers are already coming from, by

attracting more female seafarers into the industry.

“Promoting diversity at sea is the right thing to do, and it also makes great business sense,” says Stefanou.

Quite right, agrees Andrew Airey, who heads up Thai manager, Highland Maritime.

“The most interesting and exciting new crew resource has been staring us in the face for a long time. Female maritime staff present a huge potential resource and opportunity to bring fresh thinking and culture to the onboard and onshore management of vessels,” Airey says, adding: “With the future of semi and fully autonomous vessels, what we need is a combination of male and female brains and creativity.”

Poverty must not remain the most significant recruitment factor for attracting seafarers to a life at sea
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Battling inflation

Can shipmanagers get their clients to pay a bit extra?

The average American’s supermarket spend has leapt by 25% in the 2020s, figures that are replicated around much of the world. The fact is, inflation has been very tough for most countries this decade.

For shipmanagers, an industry where pricing can be cut-throat, there is common consent that rates need adjustment, but discussions on how to do this are delicate.

Clients can afford to shell out, but will they? The cross-sector ClarkSea Index - a weighted index covering all shipping sectors -has been up by over a third on average over the 10-year trend throughout the 2020s.

“Over the past three years, the shipmanagement industry has grappled with substantial cost increases, primarily driven by inflation, rising wages, and a

shortage of skilled personnel,” says Ian Beveridge, CEO of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM). “As management fees have not kept pace with the rising costs, shipmanagers will seek fee adjustments to align with profitability requirements and sustain the level of service demanded by customers.”

“It is indisputable that we are enduring a period of commodities and energy pricing volatility that directly affect services and processes, as well as employees’ and shipmanagers’ overheads alike,” says Rajiv Singhal, managing director of MTM Ship Management, who sees an estimated 1.5 to 2% annual increase in vessel opex in the coming 12 months.

As with any business, explains Bjorn Hojgaard, the CEO of Anglo-Eastern, pricing operates on the basis of

competition, costs and value-add.

Quite so, concurs Mark O’Neil, the CEO of Columbia Group. “Pricing in the shipmanagement sector remains - and will remain - extremely competitive,” says O’Neil, who is also president of InterManager, the global association for shipmanagers.

“We aim to keep our pricing competitive with the level of service we provide,” Hojgaard says , adding: “There are some shipmanagers who may offer lower quotes, but these will often be found to lack the accuracy and longer-term stability that our clients have become accustomed to.”

More for less

“As a sector we are expected to do more for less, and more for less and better,”

Clients always push prices down

47 www.splash247.com PRICING

MOMENTUM WHERE IT MATTERS

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We are expected to do more for less, and more for less and better

points out O’Neil, a familiar gripe among most managers.

The opportunity for service providers, he reckons, is to offer a client the full holistic integrated service offering - a one-stop shop so as to achieve economies of scale and optimisation on the one hand and opportunities for revenue generation on the other.

“The clients always push the prices down,” concedes Vikrant Gusain, the CEO of Dubai-based Dockendale Ship Management. However, he’s keen to stress that the costs associated with management services are steadily increasing, influenced by factors such as this year’s accession to the European Union’s emission trading scheme and other reporting mandates.

“While clients may desire lower rates, they should be prepared for the possibility of management fees continuing to rise, particularly in light of regulatory demands,” Gusain warns.

“Inflationary pressures are present in

every sector and shipmanagement is not immune,” says John Michael Radziwill, who heads up Monaco-based C Transport Maritime. Crew wages are jumping up, he says, while technical management costs are rising due to the increased demands from charterers and other regulatory bodies to comply with more stringent quality standards and best practices. For example, Radziwill cites Rightship vetting standards being applied to bulk carriers, something that is causing a surge in management costs.

Sticky inflation

Other factors to be aware of, according to Radziwill, are increasing lubricating costs, and the all round “sticky” issues of inflation.

Sticky inflation refers to sustained increases in wages and prices on certain consumer goods that usually don’t change frequently or drastically.

Geneva Dry 2025

The

Interest rates may need to stay higher for longer to tame stubborn inflation, according to the OECD. The Parisbased organisation said in May the global economic outlook had “started to brighten”.

US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell signalled interest rates would also stay higher for longer in the United States, due to “a lack of progress” towards taming inflation back to the Fed’s 2% target.

Willing to pay?

So will this most cut-throat of shipping sectors be able to negotiate price increases?

“Fortunately, we are seeing more and more shipowners now understanding the value that managers add in the business and are willing to pay a higher fees than they were paying earlier,” claims Vinay Gupta, managing director of Union Marine Management Services.

conference
www.splash247.com 49
world’s premier commodities shipping
PRICING

Stronger together?

With the volatile market shipping has seen in the last couple of years, commercial managers believe pools will continue to be the concept to ensure strong and stable earnings are secured throughout the market’s cycles. Pools provide a homogenous and commoditised service, so the argument goes, while giving owners regular cashflow and long-term security and the decision to join one is based on whether it is likely to increase revenue.

The future of pools lies in becoming as flexible as possible in high-priced market scenarios. Consolidation is one of the trends continuing into this year, which has seen Denmark’s Maersk Tankers acquire US pool operator Penfield Marine, creating a crude and product tanker player that will manage around 240

vessels.

The combined company will operate under the Maersk Tankers name and brand and will be headquartered in Copenhagen, with Tina Revsbech at the helm. Revsbech estimates that intermixed expertise will allow Maersk Tankers to grow the group’s presence as a commercial manager and extend its service offerings within “performance optimisation and decarbonisation to a broader segment of customers and pool partners”.

Meanwhile, some pool players are diversifying. Athens-based tankers and bulkers pool player Heidmar expanded its operation this year to include technical shipmanagement with the addition of Landbridge Ship Management in Hong Kong.

With a large fleet, you are always a broker’s first or second call in the morning

The move will see the Pankaj Khannaled outfit aim to streamline vessel operations for owners and operators, enabling them to focus on their core business objectives.

Two notable pools emerged this year, with Hafnia and Mercuria forming a 10-ship panamax alliance in January, aiming to bridge the gap across a rapidly ageing segment, while US tanker owner International Seaways launched an aframax venture with Chilean owner Ultranav with an initial focus on the Americas.

The formation of the new aframax pool sets it against the likes of those operated by Maersk Tankers, Signal, Synergy and another initiative by commodity trader Mercuria launched with Scorpio last year, which on its own is a new direction for both companies, especially for Scorpio Tankers, which is best known as a product carrier owner and operator with a strong LR2 pool.

51 www.splash247.com POOLS
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Global shipowner and commercial pool operator Navig8 says it is looking at different pooling initiatives and has been bolstering its MR pool this year, with its newbuilds joining and two tankers from Turkish owner Yasa. Some owners have, however, opted to cash in on assets, such as Norway’s DSD Shipping, which recently sold its Navig8-pool-committed MR to Greek owners. Other MR movements saw a pool cooperation between Norden and Pertamina International Shipping with two ships.

On the dry bulk side, John Michael Radziwill-led pools giant CTM has recently seen Canadian-Swiss shipowner York Overseas return to its Supramax RSA pool after exiting in September last year. The company has committed its 2016-built Belatlantic to the RSA fleet, with general manager Camillo Castagnola explaining the move as a protective measure against market volatility.

Commercial management is a growing business; however, with the rising markets, operators have also been exposed to the risk of owners exiting the constraints of a pool to either sell ships

Convincing an owner to stay in a pool as the best place to trade spot might require more than just a defensive strategy pitch

or secure long-term employment.

While tankers are enjoying high rates coupled with secondhand prices close to newbuild levels, secondhand bulker prices have also gained momentum with the capesize sector experiencing a particular surge. This upward trend has seen some owners exit pools as part of their fleet movements, and convincing an owner to join or stay in a pool as the best place to trade spot might require more than just a defensive strategy pitch.

CTM’s Radziwill reckons each situation is unique and each owner’s position is specific to them. CTM runs and co-runs some of the largest pools in the supramax and capesize markets, and Radziwill maintains that pooling assets has many advantages for participants.

For him, these come from the fact that one can allocate the most suitable vessels

for particular trades and being at the right place at the right time is crucial to capturing spikes in the market as is global fleet positioning.

“With a large fleet, you have the best/ most up-to-date information and you are always a broker’s first or second call in the morning,” he says, adding that CTM has also concluded that a fleet size exceeding a certain threshold in any given sector typically leads to better performance against the relevant indices.

Lastly, Radziwill notes that the owner’s ships can come or go into the consolidation as and when they please, which incentivises it to consider and align all owners’ perspectives. “The key is to build a bottom-up, commercial as well as thought-out partnership that is everevolving and improving for the benefit of all its members,” he concludes.

53 www.splash247.com POOLS
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Managers eye dry bulk

Splash brings readers highlights from Switzerland’s top shipping event

There’s plenty of reasons shipmanagers from around the world should be booking flights for the final week of April next year.

The second edition of Geneva Dry is scheduled for April 28 and 29 with organisers confident more than 800 delegates will be attending the premier commodities shipping event, and a host of other receptions planned by trading houses, brokers and owners to run alongside the show.

When looking at industry verticals dry bulk, shipping’s largest segment, has not been well served. Other shipping segments have single, global, must-attend events such as TPM in Long Beach for containers or Seatrade in Miami for cruise. Geneva Dry has filled that hole and managers would have learned a great deal from this year’s digital and decarbonisation sessions as well as meeting hundreds of potential new clients.

Data efficiency drivers

The first session at the first ever Geneva Dry conference tackled digital efficiency

drivers across the dry bulk supply chain.

The panel was tasked with outlining how digitalisation can enhance dry bulk shipping operations to the benefit of both shipowners and charterers as well as managers.

Tabitha Logan, director of projects at Hong Kong shipowner Cetus Maritime and co-founder of pitch competition, The Captain’s Table, kicked proceedings off, discussing how her peers were swamped with vast amounts of data on a daily basis. A new open communication platform was launched at Cetus which was saving staff as much as two hours a day. At sea, Cetus is investing to create digitally connected ships, Logan said, trying to remove the “roadblocks” seafarers are forced to do, entering more and more data manually. The quest then is to ensure all the data Cetus is getting – including via recently installed sensors onboard – is of a high quality.

“I’m sure you’ll know, it’s rubbish in, rubbish out,” Logan told delegates.

Scott Bergeron, executive director at Germany’s largest dry bulk concern, Oldendorff Carriers, had slightly different

terminology when discussing data quality.

“We call it shit in, shit out,” he said, going on to discuss how the rollout of Starlink sat comms was transforming the company’s business.

Oldendorff has a team of 20 involved in data collection, a headcount that is likely to double by the end of this year.

“I think the story of the last decade was identifying data, collecting data. But now we’re at a point where we really want the return on the investment of that data,” Bergeron said.

55 www.splash247.com GENEVA DRY
Share of shipping demand in tonne miles DRY BULK DOMINANCE Dry bulk 56% Tankers 25% Containers 15% Gas 4% Dry bulk 56% Tankers 25% Containers 15% Gas 4% Source: BRS

Cynthia Worley, vice president at SEDNA, a tech firm aiming to streamline emails, said that email is probably the tool shipping employees spend most of their time on in a day.

“Ours is a conservative industry because of the commercial consequences of missing out on something,” Worley said.

Back at Cetus, Logan discussed how her company had installed a transparent communication system over the past year, ditching Outlook in the process to create one big shared mailbox across the organisation. Pushback initially came from those who were protective of clients. However, as Logan recounted, that innate protectiveness dropped away because employees discovered much more triangularisation between the different strands of the business.

Discussion then turned to the age-old issue of shipping’s silo mentality with SEDNA’s Worley telling the audience: “It’s those silos that have kept us from collaborating for so long. But as soon as you start to see the value in sharing that data and insight, the benefits are there for all to see.”

Bergeron from Oldendorff warned that too many communication channels contribute to building further silos.

“To break down a silo, you really have to think who needs to know what I’m working on right now and how is this

going to help,” he said.

All panellists were agreed that finally electronic bills of lading were taking hold in dry bulk, with many referring back to earlier incarnations such as Bolero from the 1990s.

Questions rained in from the audience. Peter Schellenberger, founder of maritime consultancy Novamaxis, suggested the digital divide between big and small companies would only get larger.

“If you look at 70% of the world’s fleet having less than 15 vessels, are we moving towards the digital divide because obviously the small and medium sized owners do not have the means, not the IT capacity, nor the digital stakeholders inside that is needed to go for that transformation?” he said from the front row of the packed conference hall.

Agreeing, panellist Alberto Perez, global head of maritime commercial markets at Lloyd’s Register, said that not just digitalisation, but also ever more environmental regulation will drive consolidation in dry bulk, shipping’s largest and most fragmented sector.

“To thrive into in an era where you have so much flexibility on compliance or our target-based regulations, you need a certain scale and skills,” Perez said.

Actionable data

The second session of the day followed a similar – digital – path and looked at how large amounts of shipping data could be turned into actionable solutions.

The session was opened by its moderator, Neville Smith, director of Mariner Communications, with an apt question – are vast pools of data really necessary for shipping?

The first panellist to address the room was Andrew Roberts, head of EMEA at RightShip, who opted to first measure the pulse of the attendees by asking, by a show of hands, how many of them were truly comfortable making decisions from data analytical tools in their day-to-day business. After noting a sprinkle of hands raised, he stated that data was critical and a key enabler for businesses to make effective decisions.

“Data-led companies are 23 times more likely to acquire customers more

Regulation compliance will always trump nice-to-have systems

efficiently, 19 times more likely to retain customers, and around 7% more likely to be profitable versus competitors,” Roberts said.

He further noted that as many as 70% of executives are uncomfortable making decisions from data that comes from analytical tools.

His statement set the tone for the rest of the session with the panel further continuing to emphasise the importance of data in shipping.

From her perspective of working with chartering managers and freight traders Sigrid Teig, director of strategic customer partnerships at Dubai-based maritime software provider Marcura, said that it doesn’t matter how much data there is because it is useless without context.

But as much as all agreed that data was indispensable, even going so far as to say that there is no such thing as too much data, Manish Singh, founder of investment advisory AboutShips, pointed to the disaggregation of data and the data divide between onshore and at sea.

He claimed that the faster the shore colleagues are getting ahead on the data curve, the more they are asking their colleagues at sea questions they are not equipped to give the answers to.

“If you are at sea in a digitalising company, it gets worse for you before it gets better because you’re playing with bows and arrows while your colleagues are playing with heavy artillery,” he told the attendees.

The microphone was then handed to Ingrid Kylstad, head of market management and strategy at Klaveness Dry Bulk who emphasised that digitalisation means nothing if data is accumulated, and no outcomes are defined from that data.

56 www.splash247.com GENEVA DRY

For that reason, Klaveness focused on investing in new people which shipping never looked at before such as data scientists and developers, working on turning the data into positive outcomes.

The very positive discussion about data did stop for a few minutes as Morten Lind-Olsen, CEO of ship-shore data communications services provider Dualog, focused on two negative sides of data usage – standardisation and the willingness to invest on a larger scale.

“Onboard a ship today you have 7,000 data points at least but mainly it is not standardised in a format you can share so the data stays onboard,” Lind-Olsen said.

He also said that the problem of data ownership is another obstacle which is preventing a good, standardised solution. He further emphasised the cost-saving culture of shipping which often wins over the willingness to invest.

The panel was put on the spot again with one of the moderator’s questions. This time, it was what to choose when considering investing in a data solution. A company could go for decarbonisation, efficiency, regulations, etc.

However, Kylstad had a very simple and direct answer: “Regulation compliance will always trump nice-to-have systems. If you’re looking at, what you should invest in as an operator, then yes, it’s definitely that.”

Decarbonisation

The second day of the inaugural Geneva Dry saw panellists turn their attention to a topic that has never been more popular

Ours is a conservative industry because of the commercial consequences of missing out on something

– decarbonisation. The discussion looked at the current state and future of dry bulk emissions-wise and who will pay for it all.

Moderator of the session, Mette Asmussen, the lead of maritime sector initiatives at the World Economic Forum, opened the session by pointing to certain figures for the sector. The world fleet is made up of around 100,000 vessels, 13,000 of which are within the bulk segment. For comparison, around 5,000 to 6,000 are within the containership segment.

That also means that every eighth vessel is within bulk and that the segment is significant in the decarbonisation conversation. Asmussen stated that, in the example of methanol, there are around 200 vessels in the orderbooks, but 60% of those are coming from the container segment.

With that number in mind, she asked the panel about the main challenges of decarbonisation and where is dry bulk more, or perhaps less, challenging compared to other sectors.

Arthur English, the CEO of G2 Ocean, a company operating around 120 bulk carriers, took first to the mic and outlined what he sees as the largest challenges. He said that as the curve flattens off in the 2030s in terms of improvements on the operational side, the sector will face the

big challenge of a huge price differential in the net cost of fuel between the fuels that are used today, and the new fuels dry bulk would like to burn in the future.

As far as what is more difficult on the dry bulk side, he believes that it is a mix of very fragmented ownership and the ability of some larger dry bulk players being able to invest more heavily in this area than others.

Shipping is competing with other industries for zero-carbon fuels and Eman Abdalla, the global operations director at Cargill, took that as one of the major issues but immediately saw a positive as well.

“The EU government just passed a new law to include shipping in their Net Zero Industry Act. This is excellent because that means that they’re now responsible for making available 40% of shipping’s zero-carbon fuel demand,” she revealed.

The main message of the session was well put together by the excellent moderator, Asmussen, who said: “This is the decade of action and decisions. Many people are in that same boat because these are assets with very long lives. The decisions we make now will haunt us until 2040.”

Geneva Dry, the world’s premier commodities shipping conference, returns on April 28 and 29.

57 www.splash247.com GENEVA DRY

All eyes on AI

We quiz top managers on what tech breakthroughs the industry might see in the coming 12 months

Digitalisation is no breakthrough anymore, says Tim Ponath, CEO of Germany’s NSB Group, but it has by far not yet reached the end of its effectiveness.

Artificial Intelligence and other technologies have the potential, he says, to streamline processes and collect real-time data on various parameters. Those applications can provide valuable insights into vessel performance, fuel consumption, maintenance scheduling, and route optimisation.

“Implemented and used wisely, these technologies lead to highly efficient and transparent shipmanagement,” Ponath tells Splash.

Manish Singh, CEO of shipping advisory Aboutships, has also been keeping a firm eye on maritime’s adoption of AI.

“We are seeing early adopters within maritime sector embrace AI with varying degrees of effectiveness. There, however, seems to be a trend to stick GPT at the end of maritime terms and rush out applications as businesses hurriedly take their seats in the maritime AI theatre,” Singh says. “Often this is happening prematurely, without optimal data architecture and before appropriate policy and resilience frameworks are put in place.”

Setting the scene for the endless possibilities afforded by AI adoption, Vikrant Gusain, the CEO of Dubai-based Dockendale Ship Management, muses, “Imagine a ship where ChatGPT becomes a virtual crewmember, continuously analysing vast datasets, weather patterns, traffic patterns, and navigational hazards. This AI companion not only

enhances real-time decision-making but also serves as a tireless assistant, offering insights, suggestions, and predictions that empower the crew to navigate with unparalleled precision.”

Vinay Gupta, managing director of Singapore’s Union Marine Management Services, also wants to talk transparency when quizzed, but he’s coming at the discussion from a slightly different angle.

One of the biggest challenges today for owners, he reckons, is the transparency in terms of the performance of each eco-device that gets fitted and a clear pathway for the owners to choose the right solution in the short term.

“I hope there is a common platform where the success and failure of the devices and experiments are documented and information shared for a common good,” he says.

Vessels can transition towards an application-centric environment

59 www.splash247.com TECH

EU ETS

“The rise of digital continues to be a powerful tool for our industry, from using it to plan more efficient routes to creating decarbonisation plans,” says René KofodOlsen, the CEO of V.Group.

“Sustainability and the drive towards decarbonisation are at the forefront of shipowners’ and shipmanagers’ minds,” he says.

Around 80% of reductions in emissions over the next decade will come from optimisation of current assets, Kofod-Olsen reckons.

According to Olav Nortun, chief operating officer at OSM Thome, in the coming 12 months significant technological breakthroughs may reshape the landscape of shipmanagement, particularly in response to regulatory changes such as the inclusion of shipping into the European Union’s Emissions

A huge opportunity for cross-sector optimisation is being missed

Trading System (EU ETS).

“This integration,” he says, “is poised to significantly impact operational costs, prompting a critical need for technologies that enable shipmanagers and owners to operate vessels with reduced emissions.”

In this regard, he sees two key technological areas which will play a pivotal role in driving positive changes within the shipmanagement business. First, advancements in biofuel development are poised to enhance production, availability, usage, and acceptability, Nortun reckons, thereby offering sustainable alternatives for fuel consumption.

“This shift towards biofuels aligns with sustainability goals while addressing regulatory requirements for emissions reduction,” Nortun explains.

Secondly, the integration of advanced voyage management and optimisation tools, supported by AI and machine

learning, represents what Nortun describes as a “significant leap forward” in operational efficiency.

Increased connectivity

Moreover, the evolution of connectivity, exemplified by technologies like Starlink, is expected to revolutionise communication and data exchange onboard vessels, Nortun says, a point of view shared by many other managers polled for this magazine.

“With increased bandwidth availability, vessels can transition towards an application-centric environment, fostering innovation and enhancing operational efficiency,” Nortun says.

Quite so, concurs Angad Banga, chief operating officer at the Caravel Group. “Improved ship-to-shore connectivity will enable better data transmission, leading to informed decision-making,” he says,

61 www.splash247.com TECH
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explaining this will be enhanced by Internet of Things (IoT) technologies like sensors, which will help with proactive maintenance and cost optimisation.

However, with increased connectivity, there is a higher risk of cyber security attacks, Banga warns. To safeguard against this, shipping can expect a rise in protective measures aimed at keeping assets secure from potential threats, Banga says.

“While all these advancements are exciting, challenges such as data standardisation, integration with legacy systems, and regulatory compliance will need to be addressed,” Banga warns, something picked up too by Mark O’Neil, the CEO of Columbia Group.

Challenges such as data standardisation, integration with legacy systems, and regulatory compliance will need to be addressed

Single IT backbone

“If you look at the aviation industry,” O’Neil tells Splash, “they have a single IT backbone provided by SITA. We don’t have a single IT backbone in the maritime sector, nor a single voice.”

Vessels are not able to communicate effectively and digitally with ports, with

airports and planes, with haulage and with trains, O’Neil explains.

“A huge opportunity for cross-sector optimisation is being missed,” he says.

“I’m confident that maritime IT will find its common IT backbone within the next few months which will render many of the fragmented and non-homogeneous IT systems presently available obsolete in the future.”

https://splash247.com/category/sector/tech/

63 www.splash247.com TECH For all ship tech developments

The crewing Hunger Games

Carl Martin Faanessen, CEO of Manila-based Noatun Maritime, has some advice for those looking to sign crewing contracts

We are not big on fancy graphics and season greetings here in Noatun. We keep it quiet, preferring instead to spend the time looking at our industry and trying to figure out what trends we are about to see jump up to our shared awareness.

One thing we have seen gain some traction over the past few years is the ‘Hunger Games’ approach to crewing.

It likely started with some misguided soul in a procurement function somewhere. And there was no manager above him (it is almost always a him) with the chops to knock some sense into this person and explain that people are not spare parts.

The crewing Hunger Games goes something like this: An owner, or a smaller technical manager, decides that they want to sign crewing agreements with a clutch of crewing companies. Typically they go for two or three in each of their main

sourcing-countries for crew.

Once these agreements are in place, the emails start going out. They follow a fairly typical format and will usually contain the word ‘URGENT’ (yes, in caps). There is a list of positions that need to be filled, and the first crewing company to provide an approved candidate will get to send their seafarer onboard and collect their fees.

The remaining agents get a “better work faster next time” message, if they get any feedback at all.

The resulting hodgepodge of crew and partners do their best to keep the Hunger Games going – they depend on it after all. But after 18 to 24 months, the owner/ manager starts complaining.

There’s no loyalty in the crew pool, you see. And the quality of candidates received from their Hunger Games participants has decreased. Some have even stopped sending candidates, and now the owner/ manager comes after them with a loud

You need to find a crewing partner who understands your vessels and business

“WHY?”.

But it is as simple as it is time-tested and well understood everywhere outside of the Hunger Games arena: If you depend on your crew, and you do, then there is one workable path to a loyal crew pool and a dependable crewing partner for small to mid-sized owners and managers.

You find a crewing partner who understands your vessels and business, you make a plan with them for how to build the pool. Then you step aside and let them execute that plan. Yes, you need to communicate often. Yes, you need to pay them for the surprisingly large amount of footwork they do. And, yes, the implementation will not be a straight line.

But what would you rather have? A partner you can call and solve problems with, or the Hunger Games where everyone fends for themselves?

To all of you who read this and work in crewing, please look into what approach your company takes to this. I, for one, would very much want to see the current growth in the crewing Hunger Games reversed. Rapidly.

65 www.splash247.com OPINION

The missing ingredient for those working onboard

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means at sea. Steven Jones, founder of the Seafarers

Happiness Index, channels Aretha Franklin

If we ever begin to question the power of respect in shipping, it’s probably a good idea to look back to popular culture and check ourselves. Whether Erasure or Aretha, we will be quickly reminded of the power and importance of respect in all relationships.

Respect can make us feel 10 feet tall, overcoming all barriers, succeeding where mere mortals fail, as we commit ourselves to over-achieving at every turn. Heady stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. Respect then, the vital spark allowing people to feel willing and able to do great things.

Conversely, the lack can make even the best people ultimately shrug and give a two-finger salute…or middle, depending on your cultural mores. You get the idea. Unfortunately, all this is very relevant as the latest figures from the Seafarers Happiness Index have once more shown a fall, with the issue of respect, or lack of it, very much to the fore.

What is driving this downward curve and consistent sense of dissatisfaction? Well, at the core of mounting seafarer frustration are feelings of being overburdened, undervalued, and disconnected. Which would be bad enough, but then we also hear a sense of feeling under-rewarded and even when things are passable, just a general sense of being ignored or overlooked.

Heaping indignity onto indignation, seafarers speak of having to deal with a day-to-day lack of respect from ashore. Raising concerns that within all too many companies, shoreside management is seen to lack empathy or operational knowledge. While concerns for crew welfare struggle to even reach a compliance level, let alone better. The “do what we have to, and no more” approach seems the norm.

There are too few companies which seemingly strive for excellence when it comes to their people. This is not only a disappointment, but it will likely come back to bite the industry big time. Yes, some do great things, and when they do, seafarers really do appreciate and realise how important it is. Though the more usual tale is one of ennui, dismay and usually resigned disappointment.

Lest we forget, respect is the foundation of any strong relationship, professional or personal. Nowhere is this more evident, perhaps even important, than at sea, where bonds between ship and shore should be able to rely heavily on mutual understanding and shared trust.

There can be no hiding as respect starts with real and demonstrable concern for health, safety, and personal needs. It is about minimising or easing burdens.

Respect for seafarers is about doing the best to make things better, whether they be work or rest, heck even leisure. Better communication, genuine empathy and carefully considered policies demonstrate true respect.

Streamlining reporting and cutting superfluous paperwork, empowering all onboard with the latest digital tools, and not making them belt-and-braces back to paper. Every minute lost to pointless bureaucracy is disrespectful of seafarers’ time and abilities. Every rude and inconsiderate block of shore leave, every dollar slashed from the feeding rate, all weaken the bonds of shared endeavour and undermine the relationship across all sides of the equation.

While respect may come with increased costs it also can deliver immense rewards. Where we see respect we see reciprocal loyalty, satisfaction, and performance.

With crewing shortages looming, smart companies will take steps to recognise and celebrate their seafarers. While those who fail to show fundamental respect will struggle to attract and retain talent in coming years

Respect breeds optimism and progress; disrespect fosters disillusionment. The choice ahead is clear for both seafarers and industry alike.

67 www.splash247.com OPINION

Progress and challenges on diversity

Eline Muller from Multraship Towage and Salvage writes for Splash

Over the past decade, the shipping industry has undergone noteworthy transformations, particularly in its commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity. This shift is not only a matter of social justice but also a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to innovate, enhance productivity, and tap into a broader range of talent and perspectives.

Comparing the current state of the industry with its position a decade ago, alongside other sectors, allows us to gauge progress and anticipate future challenges.

A decade ago, the shipping industry faced criticism for its male-dominated landscape, especially in higher ranks, and limited diversity and inclusivity. Barriers to women’s entry and progress were evident, and there was a lack of recognition of the need to implement policies supporting diversity and inclusion.

Substantial strides have been made since then. Initiatives like the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Women in Maritime program and corporate policies emphasising gender equality, racial and ethnic diversity, and overall inclusion attest to this positive shift. The industry has also made strides

in diversifying its workforce, particularly on the operational side, fostering a more global perspective in its operations.

However, achieving gender balance remains a work in progress. While acknowledging the progress made, it is essential to recognise that gender equality is a vital value. Increasing not only the representation but visibility of women in the maritime industry is crucial to inspiring younger generations and breaking down gender stereotypes. While progress has been made, representation of women in ship-owning and leadership roles remains a particular challenge.

Challenges also arise from specific job requirements, and these can bring natural exclusions, such as the 24/7 operations and extended periods at sea for seafarers, which still, despite progress, disproportionately impact women with caring responsibilities. Balancing work and family life can be challenging, especially for those with family commitments.

While proud of having female officers and engineers, amongst our seafaring personnel, the goal for our organisation is to attract more women to the team both at sea and onshore.

Early outreach efforts are crucial to instil the importance of maritime

careers in young minds and bridging gender gaps. Encouraging women to pursue technical, operational but also commercial roles can contribute to a more diverse workforce.

Equality is a core value in our organisation, reflected in equal pay policies and a culture that encourages employees to voice concerns confidentially.

Efforts to attract young talent need to be intensified, reaching beyond nautical colleges and universities to high schools through outreach programmes. Raising awareness about the maritime industry’s opportunities and encouraging youth to contribute to solving industry challenges can spark enthusiasm for maritime careers.

Young people today are showing a great passion for sustainability, and it’s crucial to involve them in making the shipping industry more environmentally friendly. We need to help them understand that they have the power to contribute to the fight against climate change and promote sustainability as a crucial part of the maritime industry.

Continued outreach, awarenessbuilding, and a commitment to change are essential for the industry’s sustained progress.

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