Seafaring is a rewarding career which offers a lifetime of opportunities and can create strong friendships – but the shipping industry needs to embrace change and improve its safety record in order to fully support our people, says Captain Kuba Szymanski, Secretary General of InterManager.
His comments come as the global shipping industry gets ready to celebrate its annual Day of the Seafarer, which takes place on June 25th and this year takes the theme of “Your Voyage, Then and Now”.
A seafarer himself, Captain Szymanski declares: “I am very proud of our industry and would work tirelessly to make it better. We are an excellent bunch of people, but there is always room for improvement.”
The areas he highlights for improvement include:
• Seafarer safety – especially enclosed spaces and lifeboat safety
• Inclusion and diversity – “we are a truly global business but sometimes we forget to include everyone. There must not be an attitude of ‘my way or the gangway’.”
• Tackle abuse – abuse of hours of work, abuse of each other, abuse of position
• De-criminalise seafarers – provide legal support for the workforce not just the owners. “We need sound insurance policies for seafarers and legal representation in disputes with Regulators and Authorities,” he says.
He comments: “The tireless work seafarers put in during the pandemic underscored their importance in the maritime industry. Without seafarers there would be no shipping. We must do all we can to ensure every seafarer is treated fairly and fully supported as they help keep world trade flowing.”
Captain Szymanski’s own maritime journey began when he was just 13 years old. Having been drawn to a career at sea through his sailing hobby, he studied at the Maritime University of Szczecin, Poland, to gain his MSc in Navigation and Officer of the Watch (OOW) certificate, graduating as communism collapsed in Poland. This enabled Western companies able to operate there, and he was fortunate to be recruited by Isle of Man-based Dorchester Maritime
Working for this company, Kuba sailed for many years, firstly as a cadet, then moving through all the ranks to become a Master, finally coming ashore and moving into shipmanagement. He proudly recalls: “Tankers and gas carriers were my destiny.”
Declaring that “shipping consumed me completely”, Capt Szymanski stresses the importance of seafarers to the shipping industry. “Very soon in my sea time I realised how important it is to look after people, so they could look after our business – the ships. This mantra stayed with me and paid off handsomely. I have formed very strong bonds with the people I sailed with and we work together even now.”
InterManager, the international trade organisation which represents ship and crew managers, is joining the International Maritime Organization in urging seafarers to share their stories online, using the hashtag #seafarerjourney, to enable the whole maritime community to celebrate seafarer journeys together.
Photo: Capt Kuba Szymanski during his career at seaTags: crew crewmanagement Day of the Seafarer InterManager Kuba Szymanski seafarers shipmanagement Shipping