Constanta/Romania, October 6, 2023 – by rbj – (Source: seaspancorp.com) – The event was organized by Seaspan’s regional manning office in Odesa, Ukraine, in cooperation with Stargate Crewing, one of Seaspan’s crew providers in Romania. Other conference participants were UNIVIS and Alfa Navigation, Seaspan’s crewing agencies in Ukraine, Harren & Partner from Turkey, Navmar Shipping from Romania, Hanseatic Marine Services from Hamburg, DNV, and Gard from Norway.
The annual officer’s conference titled Forum 2023: Shaping Our Culture saw top company executives, industry experts, and Constanta’s mayor, Vergil Chiţac, address Romanian and Ukrainian seafarers on the importance of safety and diligence in fleet operations.
In his opening address, Mayor Chiţac, former Rector of Romania’s Mircea cel Bătrân Naval Academy, congratulated Seaspan on its no-compromise policy on safety, emphasizing that continuous learning was the only way of ensuring better safety standards on board.
Addressing the conference by video link from Hong Kong, Seaspan Chief Executive Officer, Bing Chen expressed his gratitude to the Seafaring community for their ongoing commitment and stressed the importance of diligently upholding the company’s values of safety, reliability, and economic efficiency.
“To achieve these three pillars – Safe, Reliable, and Economical operations – we must embrace a culture of continuous improvement. We should never become complacent, but instead, always seek ways to do things better, more efficiently, and more sustainably,” Mr. Chen said.
Thanking Seaspan’s 5,700-strong seafaring personnel, Mr. Chen acknowledged they were an integral part of the company’s growth journey and the driving force behind its continued success. “We know that by adhering to the principles of Safety, Reliability, and Economic operations, we will not only weather the storms but thrive in the ever-evolving maritime industry.”
Seaspan has seen phenomenal growth in the last couple of years, undertaking a massive new building program that is arguably one of the biggest in recent memory. “The fully delivered fleet, at the end of next year, will put us at a level of being among the biggest containership owners in the world,” said Chief Operating Officer Torsten Pedersen. “For people here, it means more career prospects and better opportunities.”
With growth comes the challenges that any fast-growing organization must deal with. “The focus going forward is ensuring that we are not becoming too complex as an organization as we grow… and simplify things. We are a big company but act internally like a small company.” Mr. Pedersen said.
For Seaspan, digitization and decarbonization are two critical policy objectives in the coming years, and Mr. Pedersen was careful at pointing out that neither would affect the company’s manning policy. “Seaspan recruitment policy will not change. When people join Seaspan, we have tough intake requirements. But once you are through the eye of the needle, we take
care of you.”
“We have a strong culture onboard our ships, and with the intake of 2000 new seafarers over the (coming) years, we will maintain the culture. Experienced people will help get the new people embedded into our culture,” he added.
Captain Manoj Gandhi, Director of Fleet Personnel, Seaspan Crew Management, gave insight into the company’s accelerated growth strategy for its seafaring personnel. In his address, he spoke of Inclusive Growth.
“Inclusive growth means it is beneficial for all.” Captain Gandhi explains that the company’s growth was now making it possible to give its seafarers more money and a better life for their families.
Seaspan continuously identified prospects from among those serving on board and put them on the fast track for promotion. Of course, quality had to be maintained while considering advancements, and the approval process remains among the most stringent in the industry.
As the Seaspan fleet expands from 1.2 million TEUs in March 2023 to a projected nearly 2 million TEUs by the end of 2024, the company has planned for the additional staffing well in advance.
“We have our own cadetship programs and increase the intake of cadets as new ships come in. We also looked at people who could be promoted and gave them promotions. That took care of 50% of our additional requirements, and the remaining we recruit from the market.”
Captain Gandhi elaborates, adding that Seaspan had built up a surplus of reserves over a long period to deal with staffing requirements.
At the same time, the company is tailoring accommodation and housekeeping facilities on many of its new vessels to suit women seafarers. Captain Gandhi and Seaspan’s new building experts compiled a list of shipboard modifications necessary to attract more women seafarers to join the team. The feedback for this list came directly from the company’s existing corps of women seafarers.
Seaspan is the largest global containership lessor, primarily focused on long-term, fixed-rate leases with the world’s largest container shipping liners. As of December 31, 2022, Seaspan’s operating fleet consisted of 132 vessels with a total capacity of 1,219,080 TEU and an additional 58 vessels under construction, increasing total fleet capacity to 1,919,080 TEU on a fully delivered basis.