Bocimar and Anglo-Eastern held a joint workshop in Odessa for Ukrainian seafarers

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On October, 22, in Odessa, Ukraine, the representatives of Anglo-Eastern and Bocimar carried out a joint seminar for Ukrainian senior officers. Anglo-Eastern, one of the world’s largest ship managers, headquartered in Hong Kong and having its branches around the world, including one in Ukraine, and Bocimar, the owner of dry cargo vessels with its HQ in Antwerp, are the long-term partners and the important figures in the global maritime industry.

Captain Oleg Lukyanchenko, the Director of Anglo-Easter Ukraine, says that such workshops are held on a regular basis, and they proved to be an efficient tool for enriching mutual understanding, improving professional knowledge, and exchanging experience.

«This is our second seminar this year”, says Fleet Director Anglo-Eastern (Antwerp) Yash Chawla. “We had the seminar in June when today’s attendees were on board of the ships. And now those who attended the seminar in summer are at sea. On purpose, we organized this second seminar to ensure we cover all the crew members.” The seminar was held in an open-dialogue format. The shipowner, the manager, and the seafarers discussed the current situation in the maritime industry and prospects of the companies’ further cooperation. They also covered the always relevant topics of crew performance, training, and promotion.

The seminar also saw the discussion of specific aspects of calling on different ports of the world and how the regulations differ from country to country. Senior Operations Manager Anglo-Eastern (Antwerp) Capt. Gurbinder Tiwana says that such case studies and an update on the new regulations in the industry is just one of the aspects of such workshops. “We give lots of support to our seafarers. Such seminars are very good for bonding. We want to show the seafarers how important they are. We believe they are the breadwinners and front-runners of the industry.”

The shipowner’s representative, Capt. Ronald De Pauw, Operations Director Bocimar, too, emphasized an important role of the crew. “Ship operation is teamwork of many departments, and the crew is a very important part of it”, he says.

Captain Oleg Lukyanchenko, the Director of Anglo-Eastern Ukraine, indicated that the high-quality industry-specific education and a high degree of proficiency, displayed by the Ukrainian seafarers, boost their competitiveness in the international labour market.

For instance, Anglo-Eastern has been hiring the Ukrainians for 15 years now – even before the company’s Ukrainian branch, which this year celebrated its 10th anniversary, was opened. Today, Anglo-Eastern employs 27,000 sailors and 1,500 of them are Ukrainian nationals. Mr Yash Chawla, Fleet Director Anglo-Eastern (Antwerp), says that while working with Ukrainian seafarers, they have built up excellent understanding and rapport among each other. «Most of the vessels, operated by our office in Belgium, are manned with Ukrainian seafarers. Our office operates 40 vessels and 2/3 of them have Ukrainians on board. It’s been a fantastic experience to work with Ukrainian seafarers and we’re going to continue this fruitful cooperation”, he adds.

To get hired by Anglo-Eastern, Ukrainian seafarers are expected to meet the industry’s current requirements: to be competent and open to new ideas and new technologies. And, according to Mr Chawla, the Ukrainian seafarers have all these features. He encouraged Ukrainian sailors to retain and develop the traits they are famous for, such as profound technical knowledge they successfully apply in practice. He also mentioned that sometimes, Ukrainians lack the English language command, but by the time they are promoted to the top positions, this problem is usually solved.

The seminar attendees discussed the ins and outs of teamwork of all the divisions as well as the tasks set before the managerial and technical departments and the seafarers on board. Special emphasis was placed on the changes in the industry regulations, including new IMO regulations on exhaust gas treatment.

“All Anglo-Eastern vessels are ready for IMO 2020”, says Mr Yash Chawla. «There is no choice – you have to comply. The question is how early you started the preparation so that the transition was smooth. We started working on it last year – that’s when we started our planning; we should be completing everything by the end of the year – before the deadline». According to the Bocimar representatives, almost all company’s fleet will switch to the low-sulfur fuel, and one vessel will be fitted with a scrubber – a special expensive device for air pollution control.

Another crucial aspect of Bocimar and Anglo-Eastern cooperation is a cadet training programme. Through such a programme, the companies not only help the students of maritime institutions grow into true professionals but also invest in the companies’ future. “Every vessel has two cadets – one for Deck, and one for Engine. And I can tell you with authority that all our cadets which are trained on our ships, get the jobs in the company. We know that the purpose of a cadet is being a cadet and learning to be an officer – we don’t take advantage of their age or position. They are the part of the crew and they have their training schedule and tasks», Mr Chawla explains.

Capt. Bart Rombout, Тechnical Director Bocimar, says that the experience shows that as soon as in 10 years some of the new cadets will likely become Captains and Chief Engineers on the company’s vessels.

Capt. Andriy Boyko, the Head of Anglo-Eastern Ukraine Training Center told us that the cadet programme in Anglo-Eastern’s Ukrainian branch was launched in 2010. “Each year, about 100 young men enjoy an excellent opportunity of the onboard training on the vessels of the acknowledged shipowners, including Bocimar. Many of those being enrolled in the early years of the programme are taking part in today workshop. And I’d like to draw your attention that the event is for senior officers only”. – he shared.

In their interview to “Rabotnik Morya /Maritime Worker/”, Anglo-Eastern and Bocimar representatives also covered the important issue of seafarers’ salaries and working conditions. The Fleet Director Anglo-Eastern (Antwerp) Mr Yash Chawla says that monetary reward is a major incentive for any employee at any company. Meanwhile, the seafarers’ salary is dictated by the market, and in the global market, the competition is very tough. Nevertheless, the salaries at Anglo-Eastern are at the upper level.

Operations Director Capt. De Pauw, who has been working at Bocimar for 17 years now, offers the shipowner’s perspective, «We believe the seafarers are very important, so we take good care of our crew. We create very good conditions on board of our ships. For example, all our vessels now have the Internet. It is very costly for shipowners but we do care about people and take effort to create favourable environment onboard”.

Bocimar vessels, managed by Anglo-Eastern, indeed, provide excellent working conditions; there, the seafarers enjoy the opportunity of personal and professional growth.The retention rate in our company is almost 100% – people always come back. We show them they are very important – they are the key shackle in this chain because the final job has to be done by the people on board», comments Capt. Rombout, Тechnical Director Bocimar.

At the end of the interview, Capt. De Pauw shared Bocimar’s plans as for the further cooperation with Ukrainian seafarers on Anglo-Eastern-managed vessels. «We have two new-buildings coming this year, he said, and they will be manned with the Ukrainians. We keep hiring Ukrainians and we expect good performance and competitiveness from them.”

The representatives of Bocimar and Anglo-Eastern believe that highly-competent manpower, including Ukrainian seafarers, will help their companies keep and promote their status of serious players in the global shipping market.