More and more ship owners and manning agents deny there being any seafarers’ shortage. According to a ship owner, those who continue to harp about it are merely indulging in empty rhetoric; these have evidently mistaken the ‘hull for the rudder’. The successful manning agents say that the business of manning and ship management, calls for a commitment and greater support for the floating staff. They advocate a more humane approach to their difficulties and problems through bonding and good relationship so that a sense of belonging is created.
“I heard a lot about there being a shortage of seafarers ever since I came into this field 30 years ago,” saysDavid C. C. Koo Managing Director of Valles Steamship Co., Ltd. “But the fact is that we are still operating ships. So where is the shortage that you are talking about? If there was a shortage then ships would have been laid up. But have you seen any lay ups occurring because of non-availability of crew? I don’t understand this terminology about there being 'shortage ofseafarers' at all."
He however confirms a shortage of qualified seafarers. It is necessary to really raise the quality of the seafarers he insists. Also it is important to have the crew better equipped with knowledge. “People who talk about shortages are the ones who at the same time cannot find training berths,” he points out. “Why is it so? If they worry about crew shortage they should do something to increase the training berths. If you need to have training imparted then you need to have space for training slots. Whenever Valles Steamship went in for new buildings extra cabins were always included.”
“When we initially started our manning operation in India in 2000 with five vessels,” says Capt Salvatore d’Amico, Fleet Manager of d’Amico Dry, “People told us not to stay on in India because the market was bad. There was a big shortage. But we insisted on staying here and continued to do so. Now instead of five vessels we are managing 80 vessels. We have 3,000 people now and we are investing in them. If one works as a professional and believe in professional Indian you can do well. At d’Amico we believe in commitment and not just being compliant. We strive to be a symbol of safety and quality for all our customers in the shipping industry.”
Wallem Ship Management Pvt Ltd goes out of its way to woo seafarers to make a career with the company. One way is to create a homely atmosphere on the ship for their crew. Capt Navin Passey their Managing Director says, “We ensure that seafarers go out to sea for short durations. We have created a work culture with options – work life balance – similar to the software industry. Our seafarers have access to face book, tweeter, MySpace, etc., SMS and voice calls, etc. so that while sailing they can keep in touch with their young ones at home and talk to them in the confines and comforts of their cabins.”
“Whether ashore or afloat my nature is to be personal and treat everyone as a part of my extended family,” says David C. C. Koo. “I reach out and communicate with the ships myself at times. Additionally we have provided all our crew with internet facility in order to have close contact with their families and friends. All the ships have internet and we have provided cheap calling cards thus offering the crew with the facility to be in touch with their families. We have family carriage policy which includes children. This is not just for the senior officers but also includes the junior officers. Besides, the quality of food provided on the ship is of the highest. We are known to have the highest victualing rates in the industry,and cooks from top hotels.”
More to promote the welfare and well being of the fellow seafarers the Founder and Managing Director of Pentagon Marine, Capt Nalin Pandey has set up one of the nation’s finest post sea Training Centers - Pentagon Maritime Training & Research Institute. It features world class facilities, including simulators’ computer-based training modules etc., to ensure that marine officers and engineers acquire knowledge and experience in every facet of tanker operations.
Recently, Anglo Eastern Group commissioned their Academy at Karjat, India, to impart tailor-made training to youth and grooming them into marine officers who meet the exacting standards of the company. The institute will cater to their entire additional requirement of marine officers needed for their rapidly growing fleet which today number 330 ships.
Peter Cremers, Chief Executive Officer of the Anglo Eastern Group at the inaugural said, “I strongly believe that good business sense – mixed with a bit of a dream – and a pinch or more of social responsibility are fundamental ingredients for success in business.”