Monday, 1 December, 2008

Anglo-Eastern focuses on ‘Teamwork – the Human Element’

For the benefit of their seafarers, Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Ltd. chose their recent conference held from November 18 to 20, 2005 at the J W Marriott, Mumbai to focus on – the age-old adage – ‘the human element is at its best when all work as a well knit team’.

The massive hall which was packed to capacity saw an unprecedented turnout of captains, master mariners, chief engineers, and other marine officers of the company’s floating staff all looking toward getting abreast of the latest developments and to resolve the difficulties that they have been facing in their day-to-day operations at sea.

At the outset Peter Cremers, chief executive officer of Anglo Eastern Group gave a perspective of the company’s operations and how they could be consolidated and developed for meeting the challenges of the times through ‘Teamwork – the Human Element’, the theme of the conference. He gave a brief on the company’s manning policy, its objective and what the company is targeting to achieve in the coming years and how teamwork could help to achieve the company’s expectations.

On the ship owners’ side there were two speakers: Marco Schut, general manager of Dockwise Shipping B.V., who took the opportunity to give details about the fleet and its operations. Elvind Holte of Saga Shipholding (Norway), on the other hand gave an insight into the freight market condition. He mentioned that the piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden have been increasing dramatically and that the situation was likely to worsen in the coming months.

Robert North of the US Coast Guard (Retd) and president of North Star Maritime took the trouble of coming all the way from the US to relate in detail the US mindset on ‘MARPOL violations and its implications’. MARPOL he said was the steward of the environment. He gave down-to-earth suggestions on what seafarers should look out for and what port state officers were particular about when they came on their rounds. “If you have maintained your record books correctly it is your best defence. If not, it is a felony and you could be in trouble,” he said.

“The mariner is part of the solution and not the problem,” contended Capt Michael I Blair, who is officially deputed by the office of the chief of the US Coast Guard (USCG). “In order to encourage the mariner to undertake his role of protecting the oceans from getting polluted it is necessary that he be provided with the proper tools.” He declared that 99% of the seafarers were doing a good job. “But remember never to lie about anything related with MARPOL regulations and cooperate with the US coast guards and things will go well with you.”

“We have brought in a lot of compliance standards,” pointed out Oivind N Braten, head of maritime management systems at DNV, a classification society based in Oslo. “But when it comes to training, there are not many standards in place. There is need for training delivery reports to make sure that training instructors are doing a proper job in the right way and using the proper instructional aids, etc.”

The ISM code was never intended to bring in additional liabilities, according to Dr Phil Anderson, managing director of ConsultISM Ltd. While talking about the ‘legal implications of the ISM Code’, he said, “It was introduced to make the sea cleaner and safer – that was the intention – but there are cases where the ISM code has been hijacked by the lawyers. Many cases have not been settled and may be referred to in arbitration.” He explained that the ISM code is meant to establish a benchmark and is not designed to introduce contractual claims nor be a cause for disputes, civil or criminal action. It should establish a benchmark in the way a ship manager operates safely.

‘Safety awareness – small mistakes lead to big problems’, was what Trygve C Nokleby, manager, Loss Prevention Gard As, had to say when team work fails. Drawing inferences from statistics he said that one vessel out of 10 is involved in a navigational accident during its lifetime. It is essential to avoid mistakes and learn from others about when accidents happen. Analysing the contributory causes for accidents at sea he pointed out that the reasons could be three fold: ignoring dangerous situations by not understanding consequences; accepting dangerous practices; and ignoring broken equipment.

The most interesting and important aspect of teamwork was brought out by Chris Haughton, managing director of Haughton Maritime Ltd. He stated that ‘leadership’ addresses change, sets direction, aligns people, motivates and inspires. However, there is a need for a mix of leadership with management, since the latter addresses complexities, planning and budgeting, organises staff control and solves problems.

Capt Pradeep Chawla, director, QA & Training AESM, Hong Kong, presented the ‘AESM Performance Review 2008’. He cautioned participants to be careful about port state control inspections as they write down even small issues which could matter. “There is a big increase in Code 17 deficiencies,” he informed. “The ports to watch out are Australia, Brisbane, Dampier and Gladstone where inspections are very stringent. The numbers of inspectors in China too have increased.” He announced that behaviour based tanker programme that started last year would be made active in all ships and would be started on dry cargo ship also.

Tony Fernandez, a leading Average Adjustor, Mentor and Leaning facilitator quoted Galileo saying, “one cannot teach another person anything. One can only help another person to find wisdom within him.” He discussed the fundamental concepts of relationships with regard to shipboard situations. He also explained in detail the causes and consequences of positive relationships and their nurturing factors. Highlighting the causes and consequences of negative relationships and their healing factors, he underlined some of the tools and techniques for nurturing positive shipboard relationships.

Two days were exclusively devoted for interaction between deck officers and engine officers. Later, there was interaction between owners and the floating staff and then an open house for discussion between the sea staff and AESM managers.

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