Mark O’Neil, President of InterManager, explains the important role of ship managers today
With 90 per cent of all crew hired by ship managers, Neil highlighted the latter should ramp up its participation in improving seafarers’ well-being – beginning with crew change and vaccination.
Maritime is a resilient sector
Labelling maritime a resilient industry, Neil observed zero complacencies. He however named crew rotation and vaccination as current bugbears. Recalling the COVID-19 resurge in India, Neil warned about the possibility of its replicating in other nations. India has a major disadvantage because of its status as a low-income country. It would take some time for the vaccines to trickle down to India, which happens to be a major seafarer supplier. With the stress seafarers are currently facing, ship managers will pass the buck, given 90 percent of crew are hired by ship managers.
Neil reminded all to consider that world trade has not suffered tremendous interruptions due to seafarers’ relentless commitment to their jobs. He added vaccinating 1.7 million seafarers is not difficult if people adopt the right minds to it.
How can ship managers help
Acknowledging the current political climate, Neil recognised how the United Nations and related bodies have a political minefield to negotiate and manoeuvre. He lamented, “It is hard to place the seafarers’ interests above national interests, and the sad reality is the vaccines cannot be purchased from the commercial market. Producers would not sell unless you go through a governmental scheme.”
Neil highlighted, “Ship managers have the widest possible experience in the industry. There is no operator that manages all types of vessels and sees the landscape in the way larger ship managers do across the sector.” Under such circumstances, he recommended these managers step up by embracing human resource management. It may be an alien concept at sea, but the pandemic has stressed treating crew as an asset. Active communications will help mitigate mental health issues onboard and enhancing morale among crew.
Crewing Online Media Team
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