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Crewing challenges from the employers’ perspective

In conjunction with the Singapore Maritime Week, the 4th Singapore Maritime Forum held a number of forum discussions, and one of which was a panel discussion on the challenges in crewing

The panel discussion involved industry experts from various maritime companies – Captain Lim Swee Aun, General Manager of Wallenius Ship Management and Chairman of the Singapore Maritime Employers’ Federation; Captain Ashish Mediratta, Head of Crewing of Maersk; Captain Fared Khan, HR Director of Eaglestar Group; and Captain Faouzi Fradi, Crewing and Training Director of Columbia Ship Management Group.

For Maersk, crew change had been a struggle and it was difficult to maintain a balance between business continuity and allowing seafarers to go home on time. In addition, the Russian-Ukraine situation was also worrying as Maersk has around 500 Ukrainian and 70 Russian seafarers on roster.

Eaglestar Group’s Captain Fared acknowledged that diversity and inclusion has become the standard model that the industry follows. The pressing challenge, from Eaglestar’s perspective, is on the mental wellness and wellbeing of seafarers. According to Captain Fared, although the Covid-19 situation has largely stabilized, he noted that a large number of seafarers are still hesitating to return to work on vessels.

All-rounded seafarers create win-win situation
According to Captain Fared, upskilling internally can be beneficial for both the company and seafarers, “In Eaglestar, what we have done is, we told ourselves to look at our current pool of talents, to reskill and retool them, so that they become universal seafarers. That way, we can transfer them from a conventional oil fleet to a gas fleet. By doing so, we have a bit more flexibility in managing the matrix and have inhouse talent that we can circulate and utilize as we move forward.”

Captain Fared also added that recruitment for seafarers should be on the minds of employers. Employers should question on how recruitment for seafarers should done in future – to build, nurture and retain a sustainable seafaring workforce.

Proper crisis management is key to business continuity
Columbia Ship Management Group’s Captain Faouzi gave special mention of their Russian and Ukrainian seafarers on roster, observing that while the situation in Ukraine is worrying, their seafarers remain professional and their loyalty to the company was above the conflict. He added that there had been no significant issue to date, and gave a nod to the professionalism of seafarers – in general – praising that it was good for the image of the maritime industry.

When asked about conflict management onboard, especially in the context of the Ukrainian situation, Captain Faouzi shared that the best way to avoid a breakdown in morale and teamwork is to refrain from talking about politics. For Columbia, they achieved this by keeping constant communication with seafarers by all levels of the organization, from the CEO to the Captain.


Crewing Online Media Team
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