Shipping needs to draw on its international nature to calm crew fears, says InterManager

Shipping needs to focus on its international nature and pull together at this difficult time, an emergency meeting of ship managers agreed today.

While Ukrainian and Russian seafarers are currently “behaving professionally” and working harmoniously together onboard ships, many accepting the need to work beyond their contracted hours due to crew change difficulties, the InterManager meeting heard fears that this may change over the coming days and weeks.

BSM Chief Operating Officer David Furnival; Henrik Jensen, Managing Director of Danica Crewing Specialists; and other ship and crew managers reported that currently seafarers are operating with “calm professionalism”. They advised they had received very few reports of any onboard conflicts.

However, others at the 60+ meeting of ship and crew managers were concerned that “feelings are running high” and warned that “goodwill on ships” may start to deteriorate when seafarers’ families are further impacted by the hostilities in Ukraine.

InterManager President Mark O’Neil called for shipping leaders to step up and support all seafarers, regardless of their nationality. “We are an international business with an international perspective and we need to remain international at this challenging time,” he urged.

Mr O’Neil, CEO of Columbia Shipmanagement, encouraged InterManager members and other ship and crew managers to work together to share resources and information in order to help crew, at sea or at home, and their families. He proposed InterManager will be a “depository of information” on everything from sanctions impacts, crew payments, welfare support and crew change routes, suggesting smaller firms could benefit from the greater means of their larger counterparts in order to speed up help for seafarers. “Don’t struggle individually to find help or reinvent the wheel when we can work together,” he advised.

Ship operators are increasing internet access for crew to enable them to stay in touch with family and friends and read reliable news sources to find out the latest situation. Mr O’Neil commented: “They are desperate for information.”

Many Ukrainian seafarers come from port areas in the south of the country such as Kherson and Mykolaiv which have come under fire from Russian forces in recent days. Hamburg-based Henrik Jensen told the meeting that he was holding a virtual meeting with his office staff in Odesa when an air raid siren went off and they had to run for cover. “It is a really serious situation,” he told InterManager colleagues.

InterManager plans to hold biweekly meetings to share information and keep its members updated. “This is a humanitarian effort,” said Mr O’Neil.

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