First big Goldenport crew conference for Ukrainian seamen held in Odessa

On November, 30, Goldenport celebrated its 18th anniversary with partners, industry experts and crew members in Odessa. It also invited Ukrainian seafarers from other companies to join the holiday. The event took place in Bristol hotel. The festivities program included crew conference, several coffee breaks and a holiday dinner.

The event featured speakers from Goldenport Shipmanagement headquarter and two local company departments (located in Mariupol and Odessa), Odessa Maritime Academy, London P&I club and AVANT training school. The conference started off with a dessert reception and opening remarks from Goldenport founder Cpt. Paris Dragnis and crew manager Cpt. Nikolaos Kokkinos who greeted the guests and presented the Goldenport Odessa office.

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The event focused on Goldenport daily operations, achievements, future plans and crewing activities in Ukraine.

New tanker fleet

The company has opened a new branch office in Odessa specialized in tanker sector. Goldenport already has 12 tanker vessels and is going to increase it further. The tanker division received the name Oceangold Odessa. Though the company is still in the process of equipping and licensing the new office (all formalities will be completed in 2017), Oceangold Odessa already works and seeks out experienced seafarers for long-term cooperation.

The company gathered crew and seamen to improve standards of the crew who join their ranks. As the demand for sea officers exceeds supply some companies choose to built competent specialists from cadets — and Goldenport is one of them. The company cooperates with Odessa Maritime Academy for many years: it holds cadet programs and hires academy graduates. Now when the tanker fleet is going to expand Goldenport will have additional places for cadets.

«It is difficult to find good and qualified tanker men, but we believe that cadets from the academy are going to serve this sector, — said Cpt. Kuznetsov, crew manager of Oceangold Odessa. — If they go to other sectors in a few years it will be very difficult for them to transfer to a tanker vessel. Tanker fleet requires specific experience, but gives seamen opportunities for higher salaries and better career».

Building the safety culture

Cpt. Alex Papagiannopoulos focused on overcoming the safety problems. «Global shipping industry pays out $4 million in claims every year, — he said. — Very often the reason behind these incidents is human factor. Life at sea is not easy. Factors such as sophistication of modern ships, multinational crew, the lack of proper competency, education and training system and many others resulted in the increase of the number of maritime accidents as a result of human errors.

Safety culture is established only when seafarers perform their duties not because they have to, but because they want to — to protect their own life, crew, and vessel». 

Cpt. Papagiannopoulos is sure: human factor plays its unfortunate part when seafarers’ needs are not properly fulfilled. This includes a complicated combination of education, training, motivation, on-board safety culture and working conditions. For example, seafarers need to preserve happy and healthy lifestyle with balanced diet, constant exercises, rest and recreation, together with regular medical screening. This ensures physical strength and wellbeing which is essential to do job properly. To decrease the risks of human errors seafarers also need safe and secure working environment, qualitative training facilities, and many other factors that all together create safety culture.

«That’s why our crews regularly takes part in different training programs, — explained Cpt. Papagiannopoulos. — Training is not performed once; it should be continuous depending on the crew needs. Our task is to identify these needs and send our seamen to take corresponding courses at partner training centers (for example, in Avant), or to provide on board through Computer Based Training Programs.

What I have noticed from previous investigations carried out, especially in incidents involving passenger ships where untrained civilians were on board, a combination of better planning, preparation and implementation of safety communications would ensure better outcomes during that crisis situation and certainly less casualties would occur. Such preparation is implemented with continuous training».

The number of occurrences in 2015 is estimated to be between 3 500 and 4 000. Cargo ships were involved in 1436 accidents.

About the company

Goldenport currently employs about 1200 Ukrainian seafarers. 92% of all crews are Ukrainians but there are also Russian, Georgian, Ethiopian, Croatian and Bulgarian crew members. The company branch offices in Mariupol and Odessa provide direct employment to Ukrainian seafarers. Goldenport eagerly builds officers: since the company entered Ukrainian market 3000, seamen have been promoted at least by one rank.

The Goldenport Holdings group includes Goldenport Shipmanagement Ltd, Goldenport Yachts and Oceangold Tankers Inc. Today the company has 50 vessels (12 tankers, 14 container vessels and 20 bulkers and 8 mega yachts). Soon two newly-built ships will be added to the fleet. These innovative bulkers with electronic engines and modern onboard technologies will be delivered from China next year. The company is negotiating the purchase of several container vessels — all about 4-5 year old.

We also contacted several seafarers at the conference and asked them what they think about the company. «I have worked in the company for 10 years on container vessels, — said 2nd officer Popov Evgeny. — I began in a rank of OS. Everything seems good to me, and the fact that there is the growth possibilities makes the company preferable in my opinion».  

«It was the first huge meeting of top-managers and crew members that I visited, — explained Cpt. Nikolaev Aleksandr. — Earlier the company held smaller events so it was interesting to to see all executives together. As far as I know this is the beginning of a good tradition — the company is going to hold such events annually. I see that the company develops rapidly especially in the last ten years: buys new ships, promotes officers rather quickly. My son also works in Goldenport and he has got the same impression».