The Crew Welfare Week took place from 21 to 23 June 2022, to discuss and embrace the role of the seafarers in shipping. Seafarers are the essential workers who keep the maritime industry moving. Ship managers acknowledge that, focusing on ways to improve their work and life onboard. Furthermore, in the current industry’s busy agenda, which sheds focus on ESG topics, crew welfare is definitely on top, being a key ‘Social’ issue.
During these challenging times, maritime stakeholders are continuously bringing seafarers’ wellbeing on the surface and taking part in many initiatives which prove the power of collaboration in crew welfare as well. Providing proper recreational facilities on board and ensuring a Diverse, Equal & Inclusive environment are among their key concerns.
The event is organized by SAFETY4SEA having as lead sponsors the following organizations: Columbia Ship Management, MacGregor, RightShip, Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS), SQE MARINE.
Other event sponsors are: The American Club, Arcadia Shipmanagement Co. Ltd., Blue Planet Shipping Ltd., Capital-Executive Ship Management Corp., Capital Gas Ship Management Corp., Capital Ship Management Corp., CleverPoint Marine, Dorian LPG, Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Limited (EASTMED), EURONAV, Green-Jakobsen A/S, I.M.A. Assessment and Training Center Inc., Latsco Shipping Limited, North P&I Club, OCEANKING, RISK4SEA, Safetytech Accelerator, SGS, Standard Club, Steamship Mutual, Sun Enterprises Ltd, Thome Group, UK P&I Club, V.Group, WellAtSea.
The event is being supported by the following organizations: Australian Mariners Welfare Society (AMWS), Filipino Shipowners Association, INTERCARGO, MPA Singapore, Sailors’ Society, Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI).
DAY 1 – Tuesday 21 June
Opening the event, Mr. Apostolos Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA, explained that for a second year, this unique industry initiative aims to bring together many of the stakeholders to discuss how to improve living and working conditions onboard and contribute to the promotion of best practices in favor of crew welfare and wellbeing, beyond compliance.
A video message from IMO Secretary-General, Mr Kitack-Lim, followed on the importance of 2022 Day of the Seafarer and IMO campaign with the theme ‘Your voyage – then and now, share your journey’. Every seafarer’s journey is different, but they all face similar challenges. For 2022, the campaign of the Day of the Seafarers, look at seafarer voyages, what it includes and how has it evolved over time and what remains at the heart of seafarers’ reality. This campaign gives seafarers a chance to share what resonates with them currently, whether it’s the crew change crisis being unresolved or the future of technology.
Session #1: Ship Managers Session – Panel Discussion
The event was followed with panel discussion moderated by Mrs. Dorothea Ioannou, CEO Designate, The American Club, featuring the following speakers: Andy Cook, Crewing Operations Director, V.Group ; Boriana Farrar, Vice President – Chief Legal Officer, Patriot Contract Services, LLC; George D. Gourdomichalis, President & Managing Director, Phoenix Shipping & Trading S.A.; Sunil Kapoor, Director, FML Ship Management Limited; Karin Orsel, Chief Executive Officer, MF Shipping Group.
Session #2: The Ship Managers Perspective
Capt. Sokratis Tigkos, Crew & Marine Manager, Omicron Ship Management Inc., explained how his company invests in crew welfare/ wellbeing and in the best possible living conditions, so that the crew themselves can concentrate and overcome the difficulties of their daily job.
Katerina Somaripa, Crew Operator, Prime Marine, provided an overview of Crew Welfare Prime initiatives, highlighting that promoting wellbeing onboard can help to create a positive working environment by minimizing stress levels, improving seamen satisfaction and engagement.
A team from the Angelicoussis Group – Mr Dimitris Fokas, Training Manager, Dr. Theoharis I. Sinifakoulis, Fleet Medical Advisor, Mrs. Eirini Pirpili, Wellness/Gym Manager and Mr. Aristonis Trochanis, Soft Skills Expert – presented training & health initiatives related to wellness and welfare of their seafarers. As mentioned, important wellbeing elements for people onboard, related to their contracts and leave periods, crew changes as planned and training, were challenged due to the pandemic. These were elements beyond company’s control; however, the Angelicoussis Group actively supports the basic’s of seafarers’ wellbeing ensuring safe and healthy working environment, connectivity with family while onboard, compliance with work 7 rest hours and all regulations and continuous education and training. In that regard, the company has established DELPHIC Maritime Training Center which offers company specific training over STCW requirements.
Session #3: The Crew Manager Perspective
Ambassador Carlos C. Salinas, PTC Founder and IMO Maritime Ambassador, highlighted that seafarers are the heart and soul of global trade and acknowledged the significant contribution of all Filipino global maritime professionals who are the driving spirit behind what makes the country a proud manager enabler.
Gerardo Borromeo, CEO, PTC, stressed the power of collaboration that enables industry to work as a platform for the development of wellness and acknowledged that seafarers are at the center of all operations, these who move the world trade and thus, it is vital to providing them a mechanism to maximize the total wellbeing of our global maritime professionals.
Atty. Iris V. Baguilat, President, Döhle Seafront Crewing (Manila), Inc., shared best practices for easing back to the pre-pandemic norms. Among other initiatives, her company created Döhle Seafront Family Hubs in strategic and key cities in the Philippines to foster enrichment activities, community building and positive relationships.
Session #4: Best Practice Video Interviews
Sophia Bullard, Director, Crew Health Programme, UK P&I Club, said that ensuring crew wellness and safety onboard are their top priorities. The Club is continuously investing in crew welfare initiatives through collaboration with other parties, such as The Mission to Seafarers, Stella Maris and Sailors’ Society, which are charities that can provide a picture of seafarers’ lives and concerns while onboard. She also mentioned that technology will play a vital role towards, as there are very helpful tools and applications to monitor the aspects of wellness at sea.
Rich McLoughlin, Head of Maritime Engagement, Safetytech Accelerator, highlighted that seafarer welfare is a fundamental aspect of safety at sea and that industry stakeholders need to provide seafarers with more tools and data in order to be able to understand and control the factors that affect their overall wellbeing. For improving welfare, technology is only one part of the solution; the big shift is a cultural one, he stressed, adding that we need a better understanding and appreciation of both the key issues of the supply chain and the social issues, albeit the commercial pressures and costs.
Session #5: Focus Presentations
Rich McLoughlin, Head of Maritime Engagement, Safetytech Accelerator, presented key technologies for monitoring crew wellbeing, explaining that analytics, AI, visual analytics, AR & VR, sensors, wearables, drones and robotics can make operations safer, less risky and sustainable.
Dr. William Moore, Senior Vice President, American Club , presented the American Club’s Good Catch Initiative, which provides simply understood guidance and case study examples to seafarers, in multi-media formats, in order to become able to identify, assess and report unsafe conditions onboard.
Bjarke Jakobsen, Partner & Senior Consultant, Green Jakobsen, stressed that seafarers’ performance onboard is linked to their welfare; enhanced crew welfare contributes to enhanced safety and operational performance onboard. In this equation, leaders onboard play a vital role to keep the balance and enhance crew welfare, as they influence their team’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
Junal Gatungay Jr., Learning and Development Consultant, Green Jakobsen, highlighted that onboard leaders should encourage the crew to speak up in order all team members to feel empowered, involved and confident with ship matters. This approach can make a big step in improving crew welfare and starts with productive conversation.
Dr. Maria Progoulaki, Regional Representative and Senior Consultant, Green Jakobsen, highlighted that leaders should keep in mind the three basic interpersonal needs – control, inclusion, appreciation – in order to empower their teams successfully, engage everyone and give positive feedback.
DAY 2 – Wednesday 22 June
Session #6: Ship Managers Session – Panel Discussion
The day started with a panel discussion moderated by Mrs. Carleen Lyden Walker, Co-Founder/Executive Director of NAMEPA and IMO Goodwill Maritime Ambassador in which the following industry stakeholders participated: Sara Baade, CEO, Sailors’ Society; Ben Bailey, Director of Advocacy, The Mission to Seafarers; Jillian Carson-Jackson, President, The Nautical Institute; Ismael Cobos Delgado, Head, Maritime Training and Human Element, International Maritime Organization (IMO); Simon Grainge, Chief Executive, International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN); and Capt. Kuba Szymanski, Secretary General, InterManager
Session #7: Seafarer Rights, Diversity & Inclusion
Frances House, Senior Advisor on Special Programmes, Institute for Human Rights and Business, highlighted that lack of transparency and poor regulatory enforcement at sea, enables poor practices such as forced labour, withholding wages, recruitment fees among others and discussed about challenges and opportunities with regards to seafarers’ rights.
Andrew Stephens, Executive Director, Sustainable Shipping Initiative, talked about industry’s Code of Conduct that helps ship operators to respect seafarers’ human and labour rights as well as charterers and cargo owners to strengthen due diligence and inform chartering-related decision-making. It involves a Self-Assessment Questionnaire that provides guidance on how to track progress.
Xiwei Zhao, Product Manager, RightShip, referred to Seafarers’ Code of Conduct and Crew Welfare Assessment, that aims to provide transparency on the current crew welfare landscape. By obtaining more effective crew welfare data, industry can go beyond minimum compliance and achieve higher standards for seafarers, Mr. Zhao stressed.
Danielle Centeno, Vice President of Loss Prevention and Survey Compliance, American Club, highlighted that a career at sea offers competitive pay and benefits, unmatched experience and growth opportunities; however, women seafarers face several challenges and stereotypes and may be target for bullying and sexual harassment.
Session #8: Soft Skills – Panel Discussion
A panel discussion, moderated by Mr. Apostolos Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA and involving the following experts: Capt. John Dolan, Deputy Director, Loss Prevention, Standard Club; Dimitris Fokas, Training Manager, Angelicoussis Group; Bjarke Jakobsen, Partner & Senior Consultant, Green Jakobsen; Aggeliki Saranti, Crewing Recruitment Officer, Euronav; RAdm Bill Truelove, Managing Director, CSMART Training Center; Capt. Parani VS, HSSEQ Manager, Tufton Asset Management Ltd., focused on the importance of investing in soft skills.
Session #9: Mental Health
Maris Cirulis, Managing Director, CleverPoint Marine, explained how technology can improve seafarers wellbeing and offer ways to control stress at sea. Stress management strategies are not only helpful for those who experience anxiety, depression and other symptoms, but for everyone, especially for those who feel that stress doesn’t really affected them, he said.
Penelope Robotis, Clinical & Organizational Psychologist/Chief HR Officer, I.M.E.Q. Center, explained why Psychological Safety in the Workplace is important, highlighting that when organizations create a psychologically safe workspace, they benefit in engagement, innovation, problem solving and performance.
Connie S. Gehrt, Managing Director, CONOVAH, gave a presentation on how stakeholders can support wellbeing through ship-shore communication, highlighting the importance of good collaboration. She also noted that remote work challenges the ship-shore relationship and thus, it is important to make significant efforts to understand others perspectives and support inclusion, involvement, engagement and respect.
Dr. Rachel Glynn-Williams, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Glynn-Williams & Associates Ltd, explained how critical incidents at sea can create stress and psychological trauma and suggested best ways to respond. For example, to manage emotional effects, it is advisable to talk to someone, write about it and keep in contact with others.
Charles Watkins, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mental Health Support Solutions, discussed how leadership and psychological safety are connected to mental health challenges on board, suggesting to strive for ‘mentally healthy ships’ in which seafarers feel supporting and caring towards suffering while they can voice their concerns freely.
Dr. Michela Terrei, Psychologist, I.M.A. Assessment and Training Center, Inc. highlighted the role of maritime academies in building the awareness on mental health issues. Mental health awareness training should be provided to all crew, be constantly updated and include a module about the psychological first aid, Dr. Terrei said.
Session #10: Seafarer Health
Maris Cirulis, Managing Director, CleverPoint Marine, talked about psychophysiology which is a field of psychology that investigates the physiological basis of core cognitive and effective psychological processes and presented how wellbeing is being featured in ESG metrics and strategies.
Dr. Periclis Tzardis, Chief Medical Advisor, ShipMedCare, focused on the importance of PEME in order crew to undergo specific tests and their results to be carefully analyzed before embarkation. As explained, the goal of performing the PEME exams is to identify potential dangers for the seafarer’s health and prevent a medical incident from occurring while traveling.
Alex Ngai, General Manager, Impact Health Group, stressed that telemedicine is a service, not a platform and attempted to decipher telemedicine for the maritime industry. In particular, medical service should not be tied down to downloading a specific platform but it should be provided on-demand, using the best form of internet connection.
Dr. Chia Yih Woei, Chief Executive Officer, Seacare Medical Centre (SMMC), referred to the benefits of the medical usage of telemedicine for seafarers, how to use it, how helpful it has been during the pandemic and ways to move forward and improve this service.
DAY 3 – Thurday 23 June
Session #11: Crew Welfare Best Practices
Cheah Aun Aun, Director (Shipping), Marine, MPA Singapore, presented how Singapore faced the challenges of the pandemic. For example, the country provided a Crew Change Safe Corridor and a Crew Facilitation centre. Also, SSA together with MPA, unions and international organizations, established the STAR Fund to ensure safe crew changes through a CrewSafe audit program.
Gisa R. Paredes, Chief Operating Officer, WellAtSea suggested how to modernize crew welfare through the power of community management which is the art of crafting engaging activities to create a network in which people can connect, share and grow.
Capt. Hari Subramaniam, Regional Head, Business Relations, Shipowners’ Club, noted that during the last few years, there has been a growth in medical related incidents onboard that are attributed to change in lifestyle conditions while health problems, such as those relating to heart, stomach, stroke and back continue to present several incidents.
Martin Foley, Chief Executive Officer/European Regional Coordinator, Stella Maris presented his organization’s holistic approach to crew welfare which provides practical assistance, spiritual support and guidance, pastoral care, help in an emergency, family support, communication and warm clothing.
Konstantinos S. Galanakis, CEO, Elvictor Group highlighted that effective communication improves the morale of the crew onboard, their productivity and shares the vision of the company to promote efficiency target. Furthermore, communication should be across the cycle of the recruitment process and not only when seafarers are onboard.
Ersi Zacharopoulou, EMEA Business Development Manager, SGS SA talked how their Global Crew Wellbeing Monitoring Program, which is available 24/7 through cloud, can improve the living conditions of crew onboard, beyond Port State Control compliance, decreasing the risk of detention or fines during inspections
Session #12: Crew Abandonment
Andrew Roberts, Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, RightShip mentioned that seafarer abandonment happens globally to all vessel types, various vessel ages, on ships with various flag states, affecting seafarers of many nationalities and presented how industry has taken action to support the victims.
Session #13: Crew Welfare – Panel Discussion
A panel discussion moderated by Mr. Apostolos Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA, discussed about the topical issues and challenges that are related to crew welfare and ways to move forward. In the discussion, the following experts participated: Gabriele Dado, Commercial Director, Safetytech Accelerator; Capt. Faouzi Fradi, Group Director Crewing and Training, Columbia Shipmanagement Ltd.; Simon Frank, Chief Human Resources Officer, Thome Group; Andrew Roberts, Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, RightShip; Nikos Toumazatos, Crew Manager, Latsco Marine Management Inc; Ioanna Vernardou, DPA / CSO, Blue Planet Shipping Ltd
Session #14: Crew Travel
George Kyvernitis, Managing Partner, Kyvernitis Travel, acknowledged that the role of a crew manager is incredibly challenging considering that he/she tries to balance the requirements and satisfaction of the crew with the corporate interests of the ship and highlighted that the best way to accomplish efficient crew changes is to have a transparent & integrated solution for all parties involved.
Session #15: Crew Change
Nikos D. Marmatsouris, Group Senior Marketing Manager, GAC Shipping SA GAC presented a global review of the Crew Changes, noting that currently many countries have waived their restrictions facilitating world trade and ship operations. However, there are still some exceptions, such as Panama which still requires PCR testing.
Session #16: Nutrition onboard
Nichole Stylianou, Food Dietitian Nutritionist, MCTC Marine Ltd. Highlighted the importance of educating crew members on proper nutrition to learn which foods are healthy and not, how food and nutrients function in our organism in order to choose wisely healthy dishes and promote positive thinking through a new way of living.
Dr. Kate Pike, ISWAN focused on the importance and role of food for people onboard, as part of ISWAN’s Social Interaction Matters (SIM) Project which among many issues, mealtimes allow crew to engage in conversations and help them to learn more about each other and provide an opportunity to relax. With creativity and skills, mealtimes can be turned into significant occasions and celebrations, she mentioned.
For the closure of the event, a video gave voice to ocean going seafarers who shared their thoughts on Crew Welfare from first hand experience. Namely, they discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their life, what needs to be changed for their wellbeing onboard a ship, what should be industry’s key priorities with respect to crew wellbeing to move forward.