Recipe for Success: NAFTOMAR with Ukrainian Seafarers over than 25 Years

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On September 23-24, 2018 two cadets from NAFTOMAR Shipping & Trading Co Ltd, employed on the same vessel of this Company, have become Officers. This is a bright example of efficient strategy in action: raising a new generation of competent Seafarers on the Company’s home ground. NAFTOMAR’s Operations and Crewing Manager Captain Ghamraoui Jad says: we are not following the common/standard cadetship procedure but we are actual focusing on their skills level and we provide to them as from the beginning, special training programs based on certain investments and enriching in that way their overall theoretical and technical knowledge having the ultimate goal and scope to create professionals and experienced Officers with high expertise and knowledge earning $4,000 per month as a start.

The Operations and Crewing Manager Cpt. Jad Ghamraoui and Deputy Crew Manager Mrs. Mara Karafotia visited vessel Gaz Energy at Chalkis Drydock located in Greece in order to personally congratulate the young officers Yuri Neverovsky and Vadim Biletsky for their promotion.

Captain Jad told The Professional Seafarer Newspaper in detail about his methods of direct communication with the Seafarers and measures taken by NAFTOMAR for motivation of officers-to-be.

Captain Jad: We have developed an intensive onboard training program. Once the Seafarers join our vessels as Cadets we treat them as prospective Officers. Cadets perform a lot of duties substantially/directly connected with their future position. They work as Officers and the rest crew treated them as Officers and not as cadets. They keep a bridge watch, do 40-50 pages of paperwork daily…

 The Professional Seafarer: It does not look like working six hours as a deck cadet and then keeping bridge watch when off duty, does it?

Captain Jad: Certainly not. Cadets learn cargo handling operations on deck. Besides, I think that personal contact is very important. That’s why I get to know officers-to-be while having lunch together, for instance. It helps to create friendly and trust-based environment. I put considerable effort and make personal connections with people on a consistent basis.

Today computers have replaced people in many operations, so losing communication skills is very easy. And I believe that “live” communication between people is extremely important in the maritime industry. It is essential to treat every employee as a person, and not as a faceless entity or a cog in the machine.

The Professional Seafarer: You travel to Ukraine three-four times a year minimum. What is the purpose of your visit to Odessa this time?

Captain Jad: First of all, I want to meet with the ex-crew, those seafarers who have been at shore the last 6 months. We stay in touch, I have their phone numbers and I am always ready for a face-to-face meeting to discuss any problems. Besides, I want to check the process of training and preparation of seafarers for our vessels and their further employment.

In June 2018 I delivered a seminar titled “One Day LPG/Carrier Introduction Course”, arranged by our company NAFTOMAR Shipping & Trading Co Ltd for the Cadets of the National University “Odessa Maritime Academy” and the Seafarers from our pool. The seminar dealt with specific aspects of employment on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers, history of gas carriers, classification for the types of cargo, specific aspects of cargo handling operations, safety procedures on this type of vessels. In the beginning of December 2018, I am planning to deliver another seminar for our Seafarers of all ranks.

The Professional Seafarer: How significant was the feedback you got on the previous LPG seminar?

Captain Jad: Many people got in touch with us, sent us various inquiries about employment etc. In addition, after the previous seminar we received hundreds of applications.

 

The Professional Seafarer: Do you think such direct inquiries are the right move? You employ seafarers through agents and crewing companies as well, don’t you?

Captain Jad: I think that direct contact with the employer is the best solution. It’s not about trust or distrust of the crewing agencies. As already mentioned it is of crucial importance for us the direct communication and contact with our Seafarers.

The Professional Seafarer: What is the current situation on the LPG transportation market?

Captain Jad: Not as good as we would like. Market has ups and downs, and in this environment we do our best to stay among top employers in the LPG shipping industry. NAFTOMAR maintains its leading position in this segment. This year we have added three (3) VLGC vessels to our fleet, and in the next two-three years we are planning to build at least four more new vessels. In total, the company has commissioned eleven (11) new vessels in the last decade. I think this is the best proof that the Company’s situation is more than stable.

The Professional Seafarer: If there is a sufficient number of competent Ukrainians with knowledge and skills, will you be able to provide jobs for them on your vessels?

Captain Jad: The number of crews can be employed according to our fleet capacity. The success is to maintain qualified personnel in our pool and grow up as from cadets gaining the experience throughout the years. Our objective is to select people having good grades from the national academy, very good English level and capability to reply in a satisfactory and intelligent way. Just an application won’t tell anything about the person. This is the reason for preferring the personal communication and direct interview with the applicant.

Finally, please note that our purpose is to maintain Seafarers of professional high level in our fleet and we are proud to announce that our retention rate all these years exceeding the 98%.

The Professional Seafarer thanks Captain Jad for a meaningful conversation. Note that the December seminar, which was mentioned by our interlocutor, was next confirmation of the company’s credo “priority — personal communication with the seafarers”. During training, Captain Jad acted as an instructor, explaining to the seafarers some of the nuances of loading and discharging, told about the safety of their implementation. In the development of such intensive courses the company invests all the experience gained in the 25 years of its existence.