EASTMED KEEPS ABREAST
Two participatory events were organized by The Eastern Mediterranean Maritime-Greece (EASTMED) for its officers and crews: one held at the EastMed In-House Training Center (Malate, Manila); the other at Navigator Intl Maritime Training and Assessment Center (Ermita, Manila).
It was a holistic approach in seven days: November 15, for ratings; November 18 to 23, more intensively for 45 officers for a total of 90 onboard personnel.
Capt. Thomas Papathanasiou, Marine Superintendent S.Q.E. and George Galanos, Greek Technical Superintendent were lead speakers on safety issues, industry developments and regulations updates.
Papathanasiou emphasized safety: “…because if crew is safe, the vessel is safe and we try always to lower the statistics on incidents and accidents injuries” still reducing the numbers much lower than the previous.
Tools of progress.
The captain reminded them of the crew video conference system, to exchange of information and feedbacks with the whole operational sectors as the purchasing and technical departments, and other departments of the company in Athens.
He reiterates the corporate policy of updating everyone on things that matter for the company’s future, on “what’s going on generally on the maritime industry.”
The crew is updated on issues like the new fuel oil requirements which coming into force in January 2020 for the low sulphur. And Papathanasiou holds special training sessions on this.
For the first time, engineers are exposed to simulators at the Navigator training center, working on exercise scenario prepared side exclusively by management and exploited by bridge officers, masters. Thereafter, is a joint briefing what went wrong, what are the benefits and suggestions, keeping them interesting, particularly on new issues.
Capt. Jimmy Lee even gives a briefing prior to embarkation, as those onboard are sent monthly bulletins, updates and changes in the system and forms.
Eastmed-Manila GM Edgardo Flores refrains from wearing coat and tie for seafarers to feel at ease with him, share realities for their well-being and benefits to their families. No need for appointments, everyone may talk to him directly for the next schedule or whatever concerns the seafarer.
He wants them to cut the habit of pasalubong (gifts) but instead save everything for their family. If at all, he encourages them attend the conferences for their own expertise, not that Capt. Flores will be angry.
He counsels them to use any lull in preparing documents needed to be ready when called for duty. GM Flores will instil the old system: first in, first out. No more Captain’s nor Chief Engineer’s request.
Dr. Solomon Ching, medical director of Micah Medical Clinic and Diagnostic Laboratory gave interesting and helpful personal health tips. Above all, go early for the medical check-up so your training will not be disrupted in case there is negative findings.
Dr. Ching even gave out his personal mobile number, admonishing the seafarers to consider him a confidant, a kuya (elder brother).
The firm has 82 vessels, 80% of the seamen are Filipino, 15% Greek officers and 5% mainly from Yugoslavia.
Average ship age is 11.1 years, with some nearly 20 years old but in tip-top shape because “we spend time, money and materials, whatever is necessary” plus our Filipino crew “…they help us a lot because they are committed…”
Capt Papathanasiou started sailing in 1990 and notices the new generation “very clever” and the educational level higher but just lacking seamanship, as other Greeks are, inclusive of those from Montenegro. Technology helps but only if one is a competent seaman.
For absolute safety, electronics on board must be handled by expert mariners. This fusion of technology and competence is the challenge of the future, transferred to the new generation not only for Filipinos but for the world.