MANAGING VESSELS IN THE COVID ERA

Technology, increased communication, and vigilance has helped ensure the continued safe and effective management of Northern Marine’s diverse fleet of managed vessels during the challenging Covid-19 era.

Despite significant issues caused by the pandemic, such as crew change operations, Northern Marine Management reported a steady operational performance in 2020.

In the past year, the fleet has achieved above industry standard safety and vessel vetting results with another year free of environmental incident.

Due to strict Covid safety protocol, fewer vessel visits from onshore superintendents and fleet managers have taken place, however conversely day-to-day communication between shoreside operations and vessel crews has increased.

Thomas Muir, Fleet Manager for Stena Bulk IMOIIMAX tanker vessels explains.

He said: “Communication has obviously always been of major importance in ship management. We must be able to have clear channels of communication between vessel and onshore management.

“Over the past year, as onshore ship managers in the UK have been forced to work remotely from their homes, we have vastly increased the usage of digital face to face communications and other additional communication channels, such as corporate instant messaging. This has also been replicated on the ships.

“Add in the recent critical improvement of internet bandwidth on these deep-sea vessels and you have the right environment to accelerate the implementation of more modern digital communication.

“Consequently, we are finding that our routine communication with the vessels has improved and increased.”

The Company’s overarching priority is the health and safety of all employees, both onshore and offshore, therefore routine travel to vessels by onshore operatives has been significantly reduced to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19.

An operations call between onshore ship management and senior management onboard the Stena Impression. Left: Superintendent Gavin Henderson. Right: Fleet Manager Thomas Muir. Captain Kamleshkumar Bhimji Bariya and Chief Engineer Siju Vittal Shenoy aboard the Stena Impression.

Thomas added: “We are having to think creatively while maintaining the high standards expected by our ship owner clients.

“Protocol and procedures for both shoreside and vessel operations were adapted at the very beginning of the pandemic to let us do our jobs as effectively as possible while putting a ring of safety around our colleagues at sea.

“Fortunately, Northern Marine has an extensive global network of operational hubs in major port locations such as Singapore, Houston, Mumbai and Shanghai, so we are able to utilize experienced, technically minded colleagues from those offices. They may not be designated managers for the vessels, but when the ships are in those regions, they have the knowledge of operations protocol and the crews to assist if required.

Sean McCormack, Ship Management Director, added: “When we reflect on 2020, it was a year of adaptation, resilience, and determination from everyone in Ship Management whether afloat or ashore, coping with the challenges of Covid-19. 

“Whilst some of our annual targets were not achieved in 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic, we did achieve the major milestones of keeping our ships trading commercially, keeping Covid-19 almost completely off our fleet of vessels, and ensuring our clients’ needs were met.” 

“As we move into 2021 there will be little respite from the pandemic, and we therefore need to ensure we do our very best to remain vigilant and maintain both onshore and onboard standards.”

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