Basil Karatzas is the CEO of Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co., a well-established, international maritime consulting and shipping finance advisory firm headquartered in the Financial District in Manhattan. Basil provides worldwide shipping market expertise to financial institutions and is active in ship brokerage, financial advisory and private placements, vessel valuations and appraisals.
And as more banks are trying to exit the shipping industry, one sees more "paper" for sale than ships, that is shipping loans are being sold, institutional investors are entering this distressed market, and the physical asset, the ship, is almost an afterthought in the whole transaction.
How has the S&P market evolved over the years?
The typical shipowner used to be the self-made captain, a buccaneer, sometimes a pirate, of the industry. Such players have had tremendous knowledge of the market and the industry, in-house access to technical and commercial information, and for such owners, the S&P broker could only sniff out vessels for sale or purchase to be negotiated privately at best pricing. As more banks and lawyers and institutional investors are now responsible for shipping, the S&P broker has now to be rounded with knowledge of maritime and admiralty law, banking, financing, operations, etc. and have a better skill set for the new type of players in the market.
The S&P market has been evolving, and for better or worse, many shipbroking shops will not manage to stay afloat, especially if the markets remain weak for a prolonged period of time.
What have been the latest trends in vessel asset prices and how sustainable are these indicators throughout 2017?
Vessel prices are of course influenced by freight rates and availability of financing, but also from smaller, lighter factors such as momentum and expectations. In general, vessel prices are weak by historic standards for tankers, dry bulk, containerships and offshore assets. Sometimes certain mar-kets behave better than others, but again, they are all highly correlated. There is lots of interest and activity in the dry bulk market at present based on the freight rate improvement in the fall and the broad belief that the worst is behind us. Tanker prices have been softening based on concerns of a wave of newbuildings delivering from the shipyards this year as well as OPEC cutting production. The containership and offshore markets can be described as ‘disasters’ at present, small or large, depending on geography or one’s specific point of view.
In your opinion, what are the medium / long term challenges in the container freight market?
In general, there have been too many containerships and not enough cargo to keep them fully occupied. And, of course, the containership market is effectively several smaller markets by asset class and geography, with a great degree of ‘cascading’ and also risk for technological obsolesce; high speed / high consumption containerships cannot get a break and panamax sized containership have been heading to the beaches at ever younger ages; just in January this year, a seven-year old panamax broke the record of a nine-year old panamax sold for scrap in December.
When a liner company such as Hanjin, effectively a quasi-government company, fails spectacularly as they did last year, it’s a sign that the particular market segment is in a very tough spot. There is interest for smaller feeder ship vessels as they are considered a bit insulated from the broader market, and given that the outstanding orderbook is almost nil in this segment, some shipowners wish to believe in a hopeful market. At the other end of the spectrum, with the liner companies, it’s a game of going after market share and pushing out of the market the weaker hands. It will take some time for the dust to settle in this market.
The traditional financier of the shipping industry have been European banks. Do you expect this role to shift towards US or Asian financial institutions?
We are not sure who will fulfill the role of the primary financier for the shipping industry, but we doubt this will be done from the banks, whether Europe-, US- or Asia-based. For sure, the model of financing shipping assets and shipping companies has been changing drastically, and we expect this to have a massive impact on shipowners, especially the smaller, independent, private owners. When shipping banks were practicing the so-called “name lending”, shipowners didn't have to be financially sophisticated to get financing.
What are the current factors that determine market liquidity?
In short, shipowners have to have a credible business plan and can demonstrate a competitive advantage. “Buy now that ships are cheap” is not a business plan, and institutional investors have seen many variations on this theme.
The recently appointed Trump administration has indicated changes in regulation that may affect the industry. What can we expect?
It’s still too early to say at this stage, but no-one believes that the Jones Act market will not receive continued special attention. It’s a unique business model that has been working for the US market, and it will be hard to see drastic changes any time soon.
What is your view on alternative fuels and their practical implementation?
Alternative fuels including natural gas and low emissions fuels pose a real technological threat, and potentially a game changer, to the existing status quo in shipping. No doubt, a tighter regulatory environment is to be expected going forward, meaning that vessels will have to be retrofitted for low-emission fuels, resulting into a meaningful CapEx for the shipowners, at a time when they can least afford it (of course there are more regulations on different fronts as well).
However, we keep seeing several projects in this front seeking financing to make us feel hopeful that there can be a day when many ships will be powered by natural gas. For some, it may seem like a voyage back in time, when coal and the steam engine was replacing the tall ships.
Please tell us about your memorable shipping experience and your favourite ship:
Getting deals concluded and delivering value for our clients is the most rewarding experience we can imagine. A low freight market is cause for concern for many owners who seek financing; also, a low freight market is an opportunity for many shipowners to grow their fleets and business. We are fortunate being based in New York City with good access to the capital and financial markets, and we have been very busy and lucky.
However, the most memorable experiences are often associated with the ships themselves we have worked on and their shipping management and operations. Our most memorable experience has been the sale of a containership a couple of years ago; between the time the MOA was signed and the scheduled delivery of the vessel, it was discovered that several years prior to the sale, the vessel had grounded in South Africa on soft sand. As the vessel was pounded by the waves, the aft part of the hull was penetrated by a 150-year old cannon that was buried in the sand, likely to have come from a man-of-war, square-rigged warship. The transaction ended up closing as expected, but the incident provided another reminder that shipping is rich in tradition and history.
Tim Britton is CEO of Spinnaker, specialised in the leasing, sale of new and used containers for shipping and storage purposes. Tim talks to us about how Spinnaker has over 60 shipping depots strategically located around the world, satisfying the demand for containers at any point of the supply chain.
What does one have to be aware of when purchasing a container?
Containers, if manufactured correctly using quality suppliers and materials, will last for 13-15 years in maritime use and at least another 10 years in the secondary rental and storage markets. We use highly specialised quality control professionals to ensure what we buy and deliver that working life.
When we acquire used container portfolios we look at who initially built the containers and what quality management process was in place. We ultimately also inspect a statistically significant sample.
How important is regulation when purchasing and trading with containers?
The ISO regulations supported by the series approval via the major Classification Societies gives a strong global basis of regulation. We purchase from a few key manufacturing partners whose quality reputation we rely upon, CXIC and Singamas. As I said you don't get what you expect, you get what you inspect and we always do online physical inspections. We reject container floors more than any other single component and that is the reflection of how quality is not just meeting the base regulatory minimums.
What are the main challenges in the containerised freight market?
Vessel overcapacity is the biggest challenge to every participant in the container shipping market. While state owned shipyards continue to build ships at below cost, ship investors are incentivised to buy new ships, even at the expense of their prior investments.
The shipping lines have also shown lemming like passion for chasing freight rates over the cliff. If they continue to focus on filling vessels and not maximising voyage profitability the cycle will continue.
What type of container is most popular and why?
The 20’ standard dry box is the global workhorse for all raw material movements. 40’ hi-cube are used transpacific and on all major long haul routes for packaged and consumer goods that will cube out before they reach their maximum gross payload. 40’ standard height boxes are of less demand as they cost the same to move by train or truck as a 40’ hi-cube with 11% more space for cargo carrying.
We continue to see a race in the construction of megaships and TEU capacity. Do you expect this to continue?
I think we have finally seen the nadir of the megaships. I think the market currently for major east-west trades from Asia to Europe and the Americas is not growing at a pace that requires larger vessels. The US land side infrastructure already cannot cope with the full loads of the Maersk E-Class ships. The system is therefore limited by port-side handling ability for the megaships and so we see it being optimised around 12 - 14,000 TEU vessels, being large enough to offer economy of scale while offering port call flexibility.
Spinnaker has a good worldwide network. Do you have plans to enter new markets over the next five years?
We have been successfully growing our Asian network over the last 15 years and we continue to see more opportunity there than in say sub-Saharan Africa and South America. The Middle Eastern trades offer some interesting opportunities if Iran is allowed to continue its reentry into the global markets.
How complex is the recovery process of a container if affected by a company that has entered into receivership?
We have successfully recovered most of the 1,400 units we had on lease to Hanjin at its demise and we have just entered into an agreement to take over another 15,000 containers which banks had leased directly to Hanjin.
Please talk to us about your memorable shipping experience and your favourite ship:
My most pure fun shipping experience was probably organising a trial shipment of French table wine using flexitanks from Bordeaux to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and then going to Reunion for a week to supervise the successful discharge. As a former US Lines Sales Rep the, at the time, record breaking 4,200 TEU so called jumbo “Econ" vessels that US Lines started their Round the World service under Malcolm McClean will always have a place in my heart. I think there are only two still sailing and one is the former American Nebraska, which was one of the last to enter service before the demise and bankruptcy in 1986. My first job after US Lines was working for a leasing company Trans Ocean Leasing, locating and negotiating the return of bank owned containers. 30 years later that experience has been very useful!
As an industry we seem to have not learned how to avoid over leveraging of vessels and shipping operations.
Øssur Hilduberg is the Head of the Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board (DMAIB), an independent unit under the Danish Ministry of Business and Growth, responsible for investigating maritime accidents and accidents to seafarers. Øssur has a broad maritime and technical background combined with knowledge within safety science, giving us an interesting insight on his role and the process of initiating and leading maritime accident investigations.
After getting my certificates as master mariner and marine engineer I sailed with a variety of ship types (oil tankers, gas tankers, container ships and offshore supply ships). As it happens for many seafarers, I had children and went ashore to work for the maritime administration. I am still fascinated with the fishing industry and how fishermen manage to work under the harshest of circumstances where the ship only serves as a platform for the highly specialised work of deep sea fishing. Unfortunately, we investigate too many fatal accidents on fishing vessels.
What are your key responsibilities as Head of DMAIB?
Besides the administrative managerial tasks my key responsibility is to deliver accident investigation reports of a high quality in terms of providing credible explanations for why a given accident occurred. Maintaining the quality of the accident reports entails having a continuous focus on developing new and updated methods for collecting data and ensuring that the analysis is made on the basis of contemporary knowledge about risk and safety.
Maritime accident investigations are complex. What are the main challenges when initiating a case?
Accident investigations typically have three stages; collecting data, analysing data and report writing. However, these stages are integrated, as we do not have a full view on what data to collect before we decide how the analysis will be made. We are usually in the process of collecting data until the final report is ready for publication. Each stage of the investigation poses its own challenges.
When collecting data the main challenge is getting timely access to data from various sources such as the accident site, involved seafarers and back office personnel before they have a chance to talk to each other. In the stage of analysing accident data it takes quite a lot of training to avoid making some of the common analytical faults. For example, using counter-factual reasoning (the crew should have or could have done something), using hindsight biased data, using over-simplified linear accident models or more importantly only analysing data from the accident site and thereby overlooking the data collected from the back office. It is a common problem in accident investigation that the investigators are experienced seafarers who are biased towards other seafarers’ behaviour. This is typically seen when investigators are evaluating the behaviour of the seafarer involved in accidents which is not the intention of accident investigation.
Designing the report is always a challenge in terms of what data to present and what data to omit, having in mind that different accident reports have different target audiences with different needs, as relatives to seafarer or passengers who have perished, seafarers, shipping companies and authorities require different levels of detail on various subject matters. At DMAIB we are continuously discussing how to design the report so it makes sense for the reader.
Each investigation is different however, what is the average lead-time of an investigation?
The national regulation based on a EU directive states that the investigation should be concluded within twelve months. However, we typically publish a report within eight months after the accident depending on the complexity of the investigation. The factors that cause a delay to an investigation are not the collection of data and the analysis, but the consultation period were the involved parties are concerned about the content of the report. Furthermore, there can be bottleneck problems if we have several accidents occurring within a short time span. Nevertheless, we do our outmost to publish the report as quickly as possible because the involved organisations and individuals deserve to have the closure that an accident report can provide.
Fact finding methods and setting conclusions are crucial in any investigation. How does the industry learn from these results in order to help prevent future accidents?
At DMAIB we have found that the maritime industry is not particularly a homogenous group in terms of the level of knowledge and understanding about safety and risk mitigation. Therefore, we try to design the report so it makes sense for the organisations involved in the given accident. It is inherently difficult to address safety issues which are recognisable for the industry as a whole, because the organisations do not have the same concerns. However, we have made a safety report about the problems with proceduralization of marine safety which seemed to resonate with many different stake-holders within the industry. In the future, we intend to publish similar safety reports about general safety related subject areas, e.g. accountability management, just culture and near-miss data. These reports might be a better way of communicating the accumulated learning we get from accident investigations.
There are a number of problems areas and I will highlight three of them. Firstly, there is not a stable definition of what a “near-miss” is, which separates normal work problems with something which is reportable. The lack of a definition which can be operationalised creates a reporting practice which is driven by the ship trying to meet reporting demands, resulting in reports about everyday events with little potential for learning. Secondly, our investigations have shown that there is a clear under-reporting of events which we know will occur, in events such as near collisions and groundings, falling asleep on the watch, assembling engine parts wrong etc. These events are kept secret because of the lack of accountability management within shipping companies. Thereby, the reporting system gives a distorted image of the operation of the ship – hiding the structural problems that nobody is talking about. Thirdly, the idea that near-misses are precursors of serious accidents can be brought into question. That near-misses have a predictive value is an idea which largely is derived from the work of Herbert Heinrich which was published in 1929. Since then knowledge about safety has evolved about how accidents occur (that causal factors for low probability/high consequence events are rarely represented in the analytical data on incidents that occur frequently) i.e. there is no common causal link between reported incidents and very serious accidents.
What advice would you provide those at sea about the compliance of SOLAS regulation?
As a bureaucrat I am reluctant to give advice to seafarers on subject matters they are experts on. There is a tendency that seafarers that go ashore to work for various organisations and authorities believe that experience is like wine – which gets better the older it is. I am not an expert on how to govern a ship, but I am an expert on how to investigate accidents. In my experience as investigator, I have found that seafarers are not that interested in SOLAS or any of the other conventions, because they are busy with other more im-portant and pressing matters on the ship. One should also note that in reality most shipmasters are working in an environment of distributed authority – between the charterer, the ship management organisation, and the owners. In the continuous communication with the shore-based technical and commercial management, the master is subjected to other forms of authority that challenge the shipmaster’s legitimised authority on board. In reality most shipmasters have a diminishing command of the ship and its resources. Compliance with the conventions is no longer a matter for the shipmaster to decide on, but an administrative back office concern in technical departments.
Many initiating a maritime career aspire to be master mariners. Do you feel trainees are fully aware of the responsibilities and skills required for this role?
I am very positive about the trainees that I meet in various lectures and during investigations. They are embracing the new technology and have genuine interest in how it works and what the weaknesses are – they are being trained for the increasing complexity of ships. The trainees are therefore better prepared to the reality of modern shipping than the more senior officers. More importantly, I find that they are more pragmatic about the life at sea and some use it as a stepping stone for doing something else later in their professional life. These changes are not necessarily welcomed by the most senior officers and some resistance or scepticism can be expected. Learning the skills and getting the sense of responsibility is primarily a task for the shipping companies and the on board crew. Their attitude towards training is vital for the success of having qualified junior officers.
© Clipper Ventures Plc
Peter Thornton has always had a passion for sailing and the sea. His career extends from the Gorran and Mevagissey Sea Scouts in Cornwall, to being awarded an MBE at the age of only twenty-five for a period of service as the Flag Lieutenant to the First Sea Lord and Admiralty Board at the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
After fifteen years of service, Peter moved into sailing chartered yachts, having recently completed a circumnavigation as First Mate on a 225 footer.
Peter also enjoys competitive racing, where he participated in the latest Clipper 2015-16 Race (Rolex Sydney-Hobart, Leg 4), helping take the GREAT Britain Team to the podium in this challenging endurance event. More recently, he has just started a new role as Relief Captain on the super yacht “Sea Eagle”, which will involve sailing around Europe and the Caribbean.
What made you take up the Clipper Race Challenge?
The desire to be employed to race across oceans and build a team to do so.
How did you prepare for this event?
Prior to believing I was capable enough to achieve the task, I took every opportunity around my RFA and large yacht career to continue sailing and racing yachts. I enjoyed learning from some very experienced sailors around the world (I still do!) as well as developing those skills as Skipper and Instructor by teaching when I had the chance. Once I had been selected and joined Clipper Ventures which was five months prior to the race start, the organisational bullet train gets going and you happily get swept up and stuck into the lead up. Initially, and one of the most important aspects was, preparing a document which details the structure of your team with values by which you wish to live and race by. The importance of which is due to the fact that you never have all of your crew in one place at any one time - I had 55 people of various nationalities and ranging in age from 18-75. All of course with different levels of ability and reasons for putting themselves forward for the challenge - some I did not even meet before they joined for their race leg because they had signed up after Race Start.
© Clipper Ventures Plc
Around this core crew document and ashore briefings / preparation, it is a series of training periods whereby you take every opportunity to get to know the boats and teach as many crew how to sail as possible!
Being out at sea alone for so long must be difficult. What was you most challenging moment?
It's difficult to name one most challenging moment. There are many situations that were tough due to extreme weather - be it dead calms in stifling heat where you may get stuck and painstakingly watch your competitors sail away or worrying about the balance between racing the boat too hard versus safety in all conditions, day and night with crew on deck 24/7.
What has been the media impact of such an achievement?
For me personally, large - in the sense of being part of a documentary aired on Sky Sports, and being interviewed in each port and on the boat by various newspapers, magazines and TV/radio stations, who are all very interested in the challenge we are taking on. It was a great, fun part of the job and an element I enjoy doing as I truly believe there is nothing else in the world quite like this race for people from all walks of life to achieve something they thought unlikely.
In terms of official media figures, these are still being calculated but early indications are that media coverage for the 2015-16 race more than doubled that of the 2013-14 race edition, and appeared in over 16,000 press, online and broadcast articles with a unique global audience base which exceeded 1.5 billion people around the world. It’s a unique event and that is reflected in its ever growing media appeal.
What would you recommend others if trying to undergo the Clipper Race?
As a Skipper, provided you’re confident in your decisions as a sailor, it’s really all about crew management. You have got to enjoy looking after and connecting with all sorts of people. I am far from perfect and I know I could have opened up a bit more when I had the chance. It’s odd to say it but I probably concentrated too much time on assessing performance, maintenance and safety. Taking more time for the crew when all of the other three elements were satisfactory might have enhanced the experience for the crew more.
What's your next challenge?
Good question. I’ve taken a bit of time to relax and I’m now open to my options.
What has been your most memorable shipping experience?
Before the race it was seeing my first iceberg! With binoculars on a cold, open door bridge at around 11:00 PM under a partially moonlit sky just north of South Georgia and I as a first trip OOW on RFA Diligence was delighted to see the first one of the voyage.
Spray shooting out both sides and whiting out the deck as we tried to keep the right angle to the waves - no idea what speeds we were pulling as we were concentrating on the helm and holding on for any big lurches. So, that sticks in my mind.
Well, that was just one night of four weeks of harsh North Pacific racing from Qingdao to Seattle and there’s a lot more to the story. But we came out of it unscathed, as well as the rest of the voyage, and I was a very happy Skipper to say the least.
What's your favourite ship?
Now there’s a question. One that I’m not too close to if I’m on a yacht. Or one with a swimming pool if I’m onboard. Or one that is operating at its optimum. One on which you feel proud to be part of, performing day and night in a professional and skilled manner.
Interview: Peter Hall, Chief Executive Officer, The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA)
Peter has over 40 years’ experience in the marine industry and is an accomplished marine executive having served as a CEO of a major international port, and has several years’ experience as a board member of an international charity and as a ship operator.
Having completed a successful seagoing career, culminating in six years command experience, Peter moved into senior port management, initially managing oil and gas terminals and then becoming responsible for the safety of all marine operations, before becoming Harbour Master responsible for planning, safety and support in the fastest growing port in Europe. He was then appointed CEO and Harbour Master of Gibraltar Port, the largest bunker port in the Mediterranean, where he also advised the Government of Gibraltar on marine matters.
Captain Hall is a member of the Nautical Institute and a Younger Brother of Trinity House. He is also the marine director of the Vine Trust- an enabling charity that connects people to change lives.
The IBIA is the voice of the suppliers, buyers and other stakeholders in marine fuel supply with over 880 members in 91 countries. What are your main responsibilities?
My responsibilities are to ensure the Association grows both numerically and in its influence in shaping and contributing to the international scene. My other objective is to deliver value for money to the membership.
Gibraltar welcomes this year’s IBIA Annual Convention. How important is Gibraltar in trade volumes, fuel quality and bunkering safety?
Gibraltar is the largest supplier in the Mediterranean in its own right and ranks in the top ten worldwide ports for bunker supply.
That is important to the world fleet, however, in terms of quality supply in all its aspects Gibraltar -if not leading the way- is very close to being number one in this regard.
Gibraltar has systems that are wanting to be adopted by other countries and emerging bunker operations. In fact, leading bunker ports are looking to Gibraltar to adopt current practices around the rock - a great compliment to the people and systems in Gibraltar.
What can attendees expect from the IBIA Annual Convention?
The first aspect is this is the first international forum following the IMO decision on the 2020 sulphur cap with such an array of experts, this is an ideal opportunity to get a view on just exactly what the decision means.
As usual, there will be a first-hand opportunity to hear from shipowners and suppliers on the state of the industry and just how it is changing and what the challenges are. Plus we are looking at the key factors that make an ideal bunker hub.
How innovative is the energy sector when developing new "fuels of the future"?
The energy sector is very innovative, we have oil refiners developing ULSFO, we have emerging “new fuels” such as LNG, methanol, hydrogen plus renewable fuels and systems. These are emerging technologies that will take time to develop economies of scale but with increasing support in both subsidy and regulation, they will start to progress to centre stage.
Equally just like Gibraltar is doing with LNG fuelled power generation, we are seeing many cross industry applications which have primary and secondary objectives - meeting power generation objectives and potential LNG bunker capability for the future is a win-win scenario.
How do you foresee "Brexit" affecting bunkering trade between UK and Europe, and do you expect Gibraltar to be impacted?
Shipping is an international business and Gibraltar is positioned on an international seaway, I don’t envisage Brexit challenging the international law of the seas. The IMO sulphur cap coming into force in 2020 balances the EU EEZ sulphur ECA so no change there. Therefore, from a bunkering perspective and Brexit, there should not be any impact and Gibraltar remains positioned to develop bunkering further. I do think, however, that thought could be given to other marine services, particularly the ships stores supply chain.
Gibraltar is currently dependent on ships spares and stores much of which are shipped via Algeciras, therefore Brexit negotiations could impact goods transfer. Gibraltar becoming independent in this regard by building a supply chain that does not depend on Spain would be an asset.
Training & development is of great importance in the bunkering sector. What role does the IBIA play in ensuring industry skills are equal and above benchmark?
IBIA is the largest training organisation for bunkering in Singapore, the largest bunker hub in the world. In this we are assessed by both the maritime authority and the academic system.
We are also developing links with universities and professional bodies such as IMarEST. In this way we not only channel vocational experience but also ensure it is in line with educational standards and learning objectives. IBIA has experience of not only developing people but also developing the industry.
Member feedback and expert opinions are always useful. How does the IBIA probe its members and channel feedback / new ideas?
We carry out a two-yearly survey with our members asking them what we can do better and how we can change.
We also have on going work groups that are open to all members to participate in, and this often results in topic led work groups that are suggested by members to “scratch and Itch”.
Finally, we have an open system of questions and answers and a panel of people who want to donate their experience for the benefit of the industry.
Please describe your memorable shipping experience and tell us about your favourite ship:
My memorable shipping experience and favourite ship are combined and an easy choice.
The vessel was called the “Amazon Hope” and the voyage was from the UK to the jungle city of Iquitos. It is amazing to think that it is the same distance from the UK to the mouth of the Amazon to that from the mouth up the Amazon to Iquitos. The six-week voyage was both a challenge to marine skills and an overwhelming sense that this could make a real difference. The journey occurred as a result of my wife and I working in Peru on a “Taste of Mission”- three weeks working with street children left a big impact on our lives. I wanted to contribute to the work and a year later and a lot of planning, we were ready to sail a 24-metre “ex mod fleet tender” to the Amazon.
The charity is called the Vine Trust and now has four ships operating around the world- connecting people to change lives, with a simple concept. The trust provides a ship equipped to provide medical care, with mini operating theatre, dentistry, pharmacy and testing facilities, volunteers (doctors, dentists, nurses, etc.) donate two weeks of their time to help change lives.
Our latest vessel has just been built in Bristol, and is currently being fitted out in Rothsyth our third vessel “Jubilee Hope” was converted in Gibdock with the support of many Gibraltarians.
I cannot believe that fifteen years later, over one million people have had their lives changed as a result.
Peter Keller, Executive Vice President of TOTE, is responsible for overseeing both TOTE Shipholdings and TOTE Maritime, which includes TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico and TOTE Maritime Alaska.
Peter joined TOTE in February of 2012 and has extensive experience in port and terminal development, liner industry activities, labour relations, intermodal operations and supply chain economics and strategies. He has also been involved in merger and acquisition strategies and tactics, public private partnership development and has advised many senior industry executives.
What makes the team at TOTE special?
We have proven shipping professionals in all aspects of our business. Whether it is sales, pricing, operations, shipboard personnel, we all understand customer needs and always try to serve those needs with integrity while providing real value. Trade and transportation are cornerstones to our economies, whether domestic or international and we all have an important part to play.
How do you adapt to changing regulation and how important is safety and maintaining environmental standards?
Safety is job number one.
We all have families and loved ones and it is our responsibility to make sure everyone goes home at night safely. We also have social responsibilities which we take very seriously which is why we were the first to commit significant resources to the development of LNG as an important, environmentally, maritime fuel.
You have been at the forefront of leading the conversion of TOTE's fleet to LNG. How challenging has this been?
Any time you are in the lead, there are many unique and often unexpected challenges. We were able to meet these challenges because of the unwavering commitment of our management and owners. Without their commitment, none of these breakthroughs could have happened. We were also fortunate in choosing partners such as NASSCO and MAN, among many others, who shared our vision for the future of maritime shipping.
What do your customers expect from the TOTE brand when contracting services?
First class, innovative service and an organization that is proactive at all times.
Please tell us about those services that have a higher demand and why:
We have a strong presence in the refrigerated markets and have introduced a lot of new modern assets. We also innovated the ISO complaint 53' x 102'' containers for our supply chain clients. We also built specialised container assets to safely and efficiently handle products from cars and trucks to live cattle. Our new ships also have a unique and innovative way of handling liquid bulk products such as fructose for the Puerto Rico soda trade.
Do you foresee exploring new markets over the next five years?
Like every other strong company we are always looking at opportunities that benefit our clients as well as our owners.
Your memorable shipping experience:
Over the past 50 years it is hard to single out one. It is an exciting industry that has and continues to change constantly. Being part of that change has been memorable every day.
Your favourite ship:
The SL-7 that Mr McLean introduced at Sea-Land. The first and still most innovative company for our industry. These were the fastest cargo ships ever built. At 33 knots, these ships were also beautiful to see and stevedore. They're still active as part of the U.S. Government fleet.
The other is of course the Marlin’s, the "Isla Bella" and "Perla de Caribe". These are the worlds first dual fuel LNG containerships in the world and herald yet another new era in international shipping. Just as the SL-7’s brought speed and unprecedented service levels to the international market, so the Mar-lin’s bring a new era of social responsibility and environmental consciousness.
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Guido Grimaldi was born in Naples in 1987. Initially raised in London as at that time his father was developing their deep sea branch there. He moved back to Naples to accomplish his school studies and university degree in business economics at Federico II University. Guido immediately started working in the family business at the age of 22, and spent his first year in Naples HO following accounts, budgeting and cost control. In 2010 he moved back to London, where their deep sea activities are managed, to experience line and commercial activities. Together with Guido's move, the Group was launching a new service from the Med area to West Africa (the “Mediterranean Express”), which was his main interest during his three years in London. In 2013 the Med Express Commercial Management was relocated to Naples HO where he actually lives and is responsible for the trade between Mediterranean and West Africa.
Please tell us about the key aspects of your role as Med-West Africa Commercial Director:
As a line Director you are normally active on several fronts at the same time: from pricing all the way to recruiting, passing from competition monitoring, operations, schedules design and many more.
How has your experience prepared you for your role?
After obtaining a university degree in Economics I spent my first year at the Naples HO, where I had the chance to start getting acquainted with the business bottom up. After this first year I had the opportunity to spend a month at our AET terminal in Antwerp to better understand the operational part of the business. I then spent a few years at Grimaldi’s Deep Sea Lines offices in London, where I learnt line management, pricing and scheduling. Only after several years of experience was I entrusted with sales management responsibilities.
What are the key values of Grimaldi Lines and how are they embraced by your team?
Flexibility, reliability, hard work and customer satisfaction. All of our colleagues and staff, not only my team, abide by these key values, and the most effective way to transmit this is leading by example.
What are the key services offered by your division and how competitive are they?
We offer multimodal transport from all main Mediterranean load ports to all main West African discharge ports with the important tool of having a wide range of connection possibilities with over 100 vessels between Med, North Europe, West Africa, North and South America thanks to our different owned companies of the Group (Grimaldi Deep and Short Sea, Minoan Lines, Finnlines, ACL).
What differentiates us from the competition in our specific trade is the age and quality of our vessels, our ability to transport virtually any type of special cargo (from a motorbike to a helicopter) in addition to more standard cargo formats both Lo-Lo, like containers, and, Ro-Ro like cars, vans, trucks and machinery, all with unmatched frequency, transit times and tailor-made customer services. We have the great added value to rely on a network of fully or partially owned agencies and terminals scattered all over Europe and West Africa.
How important is the Med-West Africa service for your clients and do you foresee new routes introduced in the future?
We proudly believe that we are the best in terms or reliability, frequency, flexibility and transport quality. Our customers are sensible to such aspects and they constantly show us their appreciation.
When we started the Line between Med and West Africa in October 2010, we only had a small chartered vessel deployed with monthly frequency. Since then, every year has been a success and an
opportunity to increase our frequency and capacity. From 2015 we run a service every 10 days with 4 owned Con-Ro vessels of 700 TEU's, 2.500 LM and 1.000 CV ideal capacity. None of these improvements would have been possible without the trust and loyalty of our customers. I wish to take this opportunity to thank them once again.
Concerning new routes, we recently implemented new destinations from the Med such as Nouakchott (Mauritania), Bata and Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) and Douala (Cameroon) in order to develop the northbound trade. We always monitor and listen to our customers for demand of new destinations and new challenges.
Your vessels are known for having very good capacity and punctuality. How are your timetables planned and how are vessels monitored to ensure timekeeping?
Route planning and schedule integrity monitoring are a very important part of our daily activity. Of course breakdowns and unforeseen events can happen to anybody and with no notice at all.
This is where our problem solving attitude kicks in and allows us to sort out issues with minimal schedule disruption. However, owning a fleet of 120 vessels is of great help when it comes to finding a substitute for a vessel in need of repairs etc.
The Grimaldi Group is a family business that has been contributing to shipping history over generations. What does it feel like to be part of this legacy and success?
Apart from my grandfather’s uncle Achille Lauro and my family’s distant past, indeed myself, my younger brother and my cousins represent the third generation of the modern-day Grimaldi business. Unlike the saying according to which “the first generation creates, the second expands and the third destroys”, we are confident that Grimaldi’s third generation will be a worthy successor to the second generation. Having said this I have to admit however that I really hope that my father Gianluca and my uncle Emanuele will not retire before their 90’s.
Please describe the importance of "technology" in your operations:
There would be no operations without technology. From our custom made ERP G-Atlas, which is used by 90% of the thousands of Grimaldi colleagues worldwide, to research in ship design and silicon coating having allowed for a substantial reduction of polluting emissions per cargo unit, technology is embedded in all aspecs of our work. Technology is also a fundamental sales tool, especially in the B2C oriented lines of our networks, like cruise and passenger ferries.
Your memorable shipping experience:
It is difficult to choose a single memorable experience. I remember all the vessel launches attended
during my childhood (which probably sketched my future), the first experiences on board, the first trip in West Africa... but if I have to choose one, I would say the experience done in Antwerp. I was about to move to London and my father suggested to spend some weeks in Antwerp to deepen my knowledge about the operational aspects of working at our AET terminal. It was a great experience following the planning and loading of different vessels, even simultaneously. When you come from the theory of books and a short work experience based on numbers, having the opportunity to plan and physically see how a vessel can be loaded in all the different decks, Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo (especially a Con-Ro vessel), gives you a clear and emotional picture of what this job is all about.
In the end, all aspects, all costs, earnings of shipping are obviously connected at what you are shipping and how you do it.
Your favourite ship:
My favourite ship is probably the Grande Costa D'Avorio (see image above). I remember it was July 2011 and the Med to West Africa service had been in service for less than a year. The vessel was brand new coming from the Croatian yard Uljanik and performed her maiden voyage on the Med Express service. I have very nice memories of the receptions on board in all the Med loading ports with authorities and all our good customers. It was surely the first relevant step showing our commitment to the Trade, which is still very strong five years later.
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David J. Halliday is Managing Director & Partner at the Seafast Group, a dynamic freight forwarder with a focus for global integrated logistics. David and his team are specialists in reefer shipping and providing solutions when delivering cargo to remote and challenging locations worldwide. Headquartered in Felixstowe (UK), the Seafast Group has regional offices in Dubai, UAE and Mombasa, Kenya.
What are your main responsibilities?
My main responsibility is that of steering our ship on a voyage of profitable growth, avoiding troubled waters. From a background of providing shipping and logistics services to the British and Dutch Ministries of Defence, to and from Afghanistan via Pakistan (not the easiest of tasks) we began then to diversify the Company in late 2007 with the objective of growing our commercial customer base, from zero, into what is now a £15 million sales per year. We are now beginning our 5 year business plan to increase turnover (and more importantly, corresponding profit) to £50 million.
Please tell us about your experience in shipping & logistics and how this has added value to your current role:
My personal background is one of Container Shipping, having spent 27 years in that sector. Starting as a documentation clerk in early 1980's to the honour of becoming CEO of the same company in 1998. That company, Contship Containerlines was a fantastic learning experience, in a period when it was still possible to be pioneers of new trade lanes, such as that in 2000 when Contship launched the first ever direct, non-stop container service between Mumbai and New York. Now container shipping has become much more of a commodity, with most lanes saturated with competitors. That was the major appeal for moving into logistics. The shipping experience means we know how the carriers think, but can apply our knowledge to providing value added beyond those services traditionally offered by lines. This is usually linked to inland capabilities, and also our specialist offering of refrigerated shipping and handling.
Seafast Logistics have received numerous awards, more recently, the 2015 Queens Award for International Trade. What does it feel like to receive this recognition?
Yes, we have archived recognition along our voyage, including BIFA, Containerisation International industry awards between 2008 and 2012. Those were important for us as a young and growing logistics group. The Queens Award, was not linked only to our industry sector, but all sectors nationwide. The award was even more gratifying given Seafast was the only logistics company to win the award, and only one in all sectors in the region of our country, Suffolk. In fact, no one had won the award in Suffolk for the two years before Seafast. Winning the award was actually "the" highlight of career, thus far. I and the company have other targets, which are currently in progress and very exciting!
Please describe your company's key values:
We are ambitious, and we do not consider size to be a disadvantage against the larger international forwarders. In fact, it is our advantage, being quick to adapt and react. We are not run by committee, and our key executives are the ones dealing with our customers on a very personalised basis. Larger forwarders, and certainly the shipping lines do not have our flexibility or ability to truly understand our customers exact needs, and the time to devote to real "bespoke" end to end solutions. Our customer base is testimony we can "out box our weight" and we will continue to do so.
We have a term we use which is "we are not simply another vanilla ice cream". And another strap line "Global Reach, Personal Touch". I don't really go in for advertising, but just delivering robust and sustainable solutions in our sectors.
Logistics is a specialised sector. What segments do you focus on?
Our focus is in two distinct sectors. The first being a by-product of our Military Logistics background. That is remote, difficult to serve, and emerging markets.
We are UK based, but a large part of our business is cross-trade between locations outside the UK. In keeping with this focus we have a joint venture company in East Africa, called Seafast Africa, with focus beyond the port to port, inland from Mombasa.
Our second focus is reefer shipping and logistics on a global platform. In 2009 we moved away from ambient warehousing and into a specialist temperature controlled facility inside the port of Felixstowe, the UK's largest container port. Seven years later we are now ready to expand that facility, the plan being x5 its present capacity by Q2 2018. Frozen products are the most handled.
In your opinion, what are the current and future challenges for international logistics?
For the masses, the challenge will be differentiating their offerings, and having the scale economics to be able to deliver the same but at more competitive prices. This will be the general challenge, but not ours. Our focus will remain steadfastly upon the areas of our specialisation, and which present considerable opportunity.
We have a number of projects under development, which we look to implement soon.
What are the key elements that define the success of Seafast Logistics?
I like to think, in fact I will say I believe our success is down to our sharp focus, determination (never say “die” attitude) innovative thinking turned into actions. We have often gone where others won't , and usually the first to do so. Two examples of this have propelled Seafast to where it is now, but still nowhere near the end of our voyage, which already has the next 5 years defined.
Your memorable shipping experience:
I struggle to put one of two as being the most memorable, so forgive my answer to this question. The first becoming entrusted as CEO of Contship, rising from a documentation clerk to the top of a special company, over a period of 17 years, is something I felt very privileged to have such opportunity. And actually being the industry sectors, youngest CEO at 38 years of age.
The second is of course the Queens Award for Enterprise!! I am not sure other industry awards will ever mean the same.
Your favourite ship:
Probably the M/V Bold Eagle, which goes back to the days of Contship when that ship sailed on our round the world service including Australia, and actually had a massive "spinnaker" sail, which at certain points of the voyage would be raised to become wind assisted. Unique to my knowledge.
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Sid Hynes (Captain) serves as Executive Chairman of Oceanex Inc., providing intermodal transportation services to the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. With his management team and almost 400 employees, Captain Hynes is committed to keep Oceanex’s leading position as an intermodal carrier in Eastern Canada.
What would you consider your greatest achievement to date as Executive Chairman at Oceanex?
Prior to acquiring Oceanex in 2007, the company was a public income trust. Since that time, we have focused on changing the corporate culture of the organization to a more entrepreneurial approach to management, embracing a culture of accountability. We have taken great strides in educating our management personnel on the merits of shifting from a reactionary approach to a more proactive approach to management.
How has your experience prepared you for your role?
I started work at a young age, beginning as a second-mate on a ship when I was 19 and advancing to become a ship’s captain at 21. This certainly required study, focus and commitment to get to that stage at a young age. As a master mariner you have to know how to demonstrate leadership. In order to take charge of a ship you must have strong managerial and leadership skills.
Throughout my career, I have combined these skills with a great deal of determination and applied them to whatever challenges have been presented to me.
Please tell us about the key values of your organization:
At Oceanex, Safety is our highest and first priority in everything that we do. We are focused on the protection of our people, property and the environment.
Excellence and Reliability are the foundation of our quality management system which is focused on continuously improving our work practices to ensure we provide a reliable, consistent service for our customers.
What makes Oceanex different to the competition?
Reliability and on-time performance, competitive transit times, pricing and a complete transportation solution are the foundation of our leading market position.
Marine transport is the only option for getting cargo into Newfoundland and Oceanex is a scheduled liner providing intermodal transportation service to the province. We provide customers with a complete service with cargo pick up anywhere in North America and delivery to any point in Newfoundland as well as being a link to international carriers through the Ports of Halifax and Montreal.
Additionally, Oceanex offers customers equipment and services required for their specific needs and the transportation of specialty products.
What do your clients expect from the Oceanex brand when contracting services?
Oceanex serves a multitude of customers and industries with various requirements. In response, we must have the ability to handle large volume as well as over dimensional and project cargo, while maintaining a schedule to support the “Just in Time” requirements of supply chain customers.
Oceanex has a fleet of equipment to do that with three ice-class vessels operating on year-round, fixed-day weekly departures from Montreal and Halifax to Newfoundland. In addition to the marine services, Oceanex through its inlands division coordinates the movement of cargo to and from its piers. Cargo can be picked up around the continent and consolidated at either Montreal or Halifax for shipment to the province.
Oceanex offers a wide range of services. Please tell us about those that have more demand and why:
Oceanex specialises in the handling of all types of cargo from anywhere in North America. Through a combination of direct and agent networks, Oceanex is capable of handling anything from: full container loads ranging from 20’ to 53’, LTL (less than full load), Project cargo requiring standard and specialised equipment, commercial vehicles, new cars, heavy equipment, heavy lifts and both heated and refrigerated container/trailer service. Requirements are predominantly for 53’ units that offer the same capacity as highway trailers and have become the unit of choice for many shippers in the domestic trade.
Do you foresee exploring new markets over the next five years?
Our primary focus is service to Newfoundland. Having said that, our management team is always looking for growth opportunities, specifically with respect to the marine, offshore, and transportation sectors.
Oceanex has recently expanded to offering 3PL services for its clients to ensure we are better able to providing all of their transportation requirements.
Your memorable shipping experience:
My most memorable shipping experience was perhaps my most challenging experience. I was captain of the dynamic positioning diving support vessel responsible for locating and completing the survey of the sunken oil rig Ocean Ranger in extremely harsh conditions.
Your favorite ship:
I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite ship as I have had the pleasure of working on a number of state of the art vessels. I am particularly proud, however, of the Oceanex Connaigra (pictured above). I was closely involved in the building of this vessel from development of the specification until it joined the Oceanex service in October 2013.
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Kunio Mikuriya has been Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) since 1st January 2009. The WCO provides leadership, guidance and support to Customs administrations to secure and facilitate legitimate trade, realise revenues, protect society and build capacity.
What would you consider your greatest achievement to-date as Secretary-General of the WCO?
Upon my nomination as Secretary-General of the WCO, I encouraged Members -180 Customs administrations as of today– to embark on a journey to achieve a new vision: Borders Divide, Customs Connects. Enhancing connectivity would lead to a significant improvement in the Customs service, in close partnership with trade, and thereby improve economic competitiveness. This is what is meant by trade facilitation’, and it is something that I continue to promote through the development of standards and sharing best practices, leading to the acceptance by the international community in the form of the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement, adopted in 2013.
Now the WCO is recognised as the major implementation agency of this WTO Agreement through its capacity building initiative, launched in 2014, known as the Mercator Programme. Of course, Customs facilitates only legitimate trade, the protection of society from illicit trade including narcotics, fake medicines, and wildlife trade is another core mission of Customs. Security of the supply chain is an integral part of economic competitiveness.I guided the WCO toward the development of risk management tools, communication platforms and coordinated global operations to build Customs capacity and enhance collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. Now the WCO is recognised as the major player in coordinating Customs around the world in protecting society and security at borders.
How has your experience prepared you for your role?
The role of Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization is to inspire Members and execute the vision of the Organization. It therefore demands constant efforts in understanding what is happening in the world, what Customs can do in response, and what are the needs and priorities of Members. It then requires the capability to create an enabling environment for the Secretariat but also for Members. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to develop these skills at the Ministry of Finance of Japan, with a broad portfolio including research, policy-making and its implementation. The Ministry sent me to France to embark on a study programme in order to broaden my perspective through encountering a different way of thinking. My stint as a trade negotiator in Geneva at the then GATT (now evolved to the WTO) stimulated my interest in trade and international relations. This led to my specialising in the Customs and trade back in the Ministry of Finance as well as acquiring a PhD in international relations in a UK university. My experience both at home and abroad served me well. Since the time I was elected WCO Secretary-General, my experience has further expanded particularly by regularly conferring with Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, CEOs, and Ambassadors alike on a wide range of international trade topics.
Please describe the key values of your organization:
The key values of the WCO are incorporated in its mission statement:
1. We are a knowledge-based and action-oriented organization.
2. We believe in transparent, honest, and auditable governance procedures.
3. We are responsive to our Members, stakeholders in trade, and society.
4. We capitalise on technology and innovation.
I would also like to reiterate that one of the core values that all personnel adhere to, and that imbues each of us with a sense of purpose, is responsiveness to our Members. We are a Member-based and driven Organization, and as a result, our focus is 100% on the needs and requirements expressed by them during the many Committee meetings covering a range of Customs-related topics and annual Council sessions.
What are your main objectives for 2016?
Each year on 26th January, Customs administrations around the world celebrate International Customs Day, and I announce the WCO theme for the year in question. The objective is to choose one unifying, overarching concept in accordance with which Customs can easily benchmark and communicate their progress, and identify areas for improvement. This year’s theme is Digital Customs - Progressive Engagement, and we have received many contributions from Members outlining their efforts to move toward a fully digital ecosystem and to progressively engage business and other government agencies. Digital Customs is a concept whereby Administrations are encouraged to take advantage of the software and ICT solutions available to improve their external output e.g. clearance times, Single Window environments, but also the internal processes at the heart of a Customs administration; everything from automated human resources solutions to the creation of a paperless environment. I would like to see the objective of tangible and measurable progress in this domain by the end of 2016 amongst all Members fulfilled.
What challenges does the WCO have in the current international customs layout?
One of the key challenges faced by the WCO is the rapid expansion of e-commerce whereby a large amount of small packages arrive at borders on account of online shopping. As e-commerce represents empowerment for consumers and Micro Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises, Customs should support its development, but these new participants to trade are usually unknown to Customs, which poses a challenge from a risk management perspective. Moreover, organised crime and terrorist groups could exploit e-commerce and occupy the supply chain to send illicit goods and security-sensitive goods. We often hear the expression ‘dark net’, which has arisen as a direct result of threats to cyber security.
How does the WCO facilitate international shipping trade?
The WCO works with our Members towards the realisation of a number of programmes and tools which, once implemented, can lead to an improved facilitation of international shipping trade. Chief amongst these is one of our most renowned Conventions - the Revised Kyoto Convention - which has become the blueprint of a modern and streamlined Customs administration. To date, 103 Members have deposited their instruments of accession and consequently made significant strides towards improved facilitation of international shipping trade.
Your memorable shipping experience:
There are too many to choose from, but I always appreciate trips on Customs boats. They give me an opportunity to appreciate Customs in action on the sea. When I was given the responsibility of overseeing Japan Customs' enforcement activities in the Ministry of Finance, I had to develop a policy on how to use a large-sized Customs boat that was introduced for the first time for the use on high sea. I had experience of small Customs boats for costal watch, but this was a new task for Japan Customs. I embarked on a three-day journey on the new boat from the southern port of Kyushu towards Okinawa. I was able to observe the beautiful nature apparent on the islands and the hospitality of inhabitants, but I also had a chance to share the experience with Customs officers on board.
Your favourite ship:
I should mention a small sailing boat that I used to enjoy with my friends over many weekends in my youth. On a professional note, my favorite ship is the Mercator, which was named after Gerardus Mercator, the Belgian cartographer and eponym of the WCO Mercator Programme. The Mercator was a barquentine built for the Belgian merchant fleet. It is now converted into an ocean museum at the pier of Ostend in Northern Belgium. It is my fervent wish that the WCO Mercator Programme provides direction and inspiration to Customs and business for future modernisation of border procedures.
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Kitack Lim was elected Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) by the 114th session of the IMO Council in June 2015 for a four-year period beginning 1 January 2016. The election was endorsed by the IMO's Assembly at its 29th session in November 2015. Kitack Lim (Republic of Korea) is the eighth elected Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization.
What are the IMO's main objectives for 2016?
The main objectives this year include the smooth implementation of the mandatory IMO Member State Audit Scheme; further efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping; the next steps in the application of goal-based standards for construction of oil tankers and bulk carriers; continued work on passenger ship safety and the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention.
Other matters on the regulatory side include the review of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, pushing ahead with the e-navigation strategy and managing cyber security threats.
Alongside these, a key objective for this year and beyond is the continued implementation of the hugely important Technical Cooperation Programme which supports capacity building, particularly in Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries. This can be seen in the context of a long-term strategy to create conditions for increased employment, prosperity and stability through enhancing the maritime sector and a sustainable 'blue economy' in developing countries.
It is extremely important that we promote the transfer and uptake of maritime experience and expertise so that all Member States can participate effectively in maritime activities. Feedback from the mandatory audits will also contribute to this process.
For me personally, the effective implementation of international conventions and regulations is a key priority. I have talked about a "voyage together", in which my vision is one of strengthened partnerships – between developing and developed countries, between Governments and industry, between IMO Member States and regions.
Another personal objective is to strengthen communication between the maritime industry and the general public and I see IMO acting as a bridge between all these stakeholders. I am keen to raise our visibility not just among those who already know us, but also among those who do not. I want to raise awareness among officials, ministers and decision-makers outside of our regular community, in the interests of joined-up thinking, joined-up planning and collaboration.
How important are new technologies in improving vessel efficiency?
New technologies and innovation are very important tools and can significantly enhance ships' energy efficiency.
IMO has set non-prescriptive regulations for the mandatory Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships, so that ship designers are free to use imagination, blue-sky thinking and innovative technology to meet the requirements and also achieve the most cost-efficient solutions.
We are also working proactively to encourage technology-transfer in the maritime sector and the focus is on cooperation and collaboration. We want to cement not just north-south technology cooperation, but south-south and south-north technology and information flow as well.
Two major IMO projects are supporting the increased uptake and implementation of energy-efficiency measures for shipping.
The first is the GloMEEP project, formally designated "Transforming the Global Maritime Transport Industry towards a Low Carbon Future through Improved Energy Efficiency". IMO is executing this Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded GloMEEP project in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), following the signing of an agreement between IMO, the GEF and UNDP to allocate US$2.0 million to this two-year partnership project. A number of national workshops involving lead pilot countries have already been held under the project.
The second exciting project is the European Union-funded IMO project to establish a global network of Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs) in developing countries. The aim is to help beneficiary countries limit and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their shipping sectors through technical assistance and capacity building. It will encourage the uptake of innovative energy-efficiency technologies among a large number of users through the widespread dissemination of technical information and know-how and thereby heighten the impact of technology transfer. One of the goals will be to promote the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations in the maritime sector through the implementation of pilot projects.
Both these projects will provide opportunities to evaluate existing as well as new and emerging technologies. So we might be looking at advanced hull coatings to prevent fouling, novel propulsion and powering systems, "smart ships" incorporating advanced communications and sensor technology into their operation, and so on.
It is an exciting time for shipping, as we look towards building capacity to implement technical and operational measures in developing countries, where shipping is increasingly concentrated. We should strive towards promoting a low-carbon maritime sector, to minimize the adverse impacts of shipping emissions on climate change, ocean acidification and local air quality.
What measures are issued by the IMO to counter piracy?
IMO has responded to maritime security threats, encompassing terrorism as well as criminal and illicit activity such as piracy and armed robbery against ships, in two ways: by adopting and approving regulations and guidance and through capacity building.
Chapter XI-2 of the SOLAS Convention makes mandatory the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) and forms the cornerstone of regulatory measures to address maritime security. Ships and port facilities both have to have in place approved security plans which address identified threats.
IMO has been addressing piracy (which is an illegal act committed against a ship on the high seas, under its definition in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) for several decades. Regional capacity-building has helped address and suppress piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and more recently off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and in the wider Indian Ocean. Thanks to regional capacity-building efforts by IMO to counter piracy - including the Djibouti Code of Conduct for the western Indian Ocean, efforts by coastal States, navies and the shipping industry through implementing "best management practices" - we have seen a decline in acts of piracy off Somalia. No successful hijack was recorded there in 2015.
However, the alarming increase in acts of murder, kidnapping, hostage-taking and robbery by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea has now become a serious concern, and I welcomed the Presidential Statement issued by the UN Security Council at the beginning of May addressing this subject. IMO is currently implementing a strategy for enhancing maritime security in west and central Africa, in line with the region's maritime security agreements.
The focus is on providing assistance to IMO Member States seeking to develop their own national or regional measures to address the threat of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activities. IMO is working with States in the region and regional organizations to help develop the maritime sector and the blue economy, underpinned by good maritime security. In addition to countering piracy and armed robbery against ships, States in the region are being encouraged and assisted to develop holistic maritime security strategies that address a range of issues, including search and rescue, marine environment protection, energy-supply security, maritime terrorism, unsafe mixed migration by sea as well as other illicit activities, such as trafficking drugs, weapons and people by sea and illegal fishing.
A comprehensive range of guidance material for shipmasters and Governments to prevent and suppress piracy and armed robbery at sea, investigate offences, and address armed security personnel on board ships has been disseminated by IMO as well as guidance to shipping to address a range of other maritime crimes including drug smuggling, stowaways and fraud ("phantom ships").
What are the current and future challenges for international shipping?
Of course I cannot speak for the shipping industry and it will certainly have its own view on its current and future challenges, but I do believe that shipping is always going to be indispensable to world trade, as we have been highlighting in our World Maritime Day theme for this year - "Shipping: indispensable to the world".
Market conditions dictate the global economy but the historical trajectory of shipping suggests that trade by ship will continue to rise, in the long term. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), around 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 per cent of global trade by value are carried by sea and are handled by ports worldwide. These shares are even higher in the case of most developing countries. Without shipping the import and export of goods on the scale necessary to sustain the modern world would not be possible.
From IMO's perspective, I think the challenges for international shipping are to ensure that it remains sustainable for the future, to ensure ships are as safe as possible and with minimal impact on the environment, particularly when it comes to air pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Current challenges arising from the regulatory side will include implementing amendments to regulatory instruments that have been adopted to improve the safety of shipping, such as the SOLAS requirements for the verified gross mass of containers entering into force on 1 July 2016.
On the environmental side, the Ballast Water Management Convention will require investment and implementation from the shipping industry, while shipping will need to comply with stricter limits on sulphur emissions globally in the coming years.
But I know from my conversations with the shipping industry representatives who attend IMO meetings as observer delegations that the international shipping industry fully supports the work of IMO and, over the years, the various shipping industry bodies have contributed hugely to enhancing the regulatory regime, providing expert input on everything from ship design, construction, equipment, manning, operation and the eventual end-of-life disposal of ships.
We cannot predict the future but I feel certain that international shipping will be ready to face any forthcoming challenges, alongside the IMO Membership.
What is the IMO's view on LNG being the "energy of the future"?
As an organization, IMO has not adopted a view on LNG specifically but has responded to changes in the industry by ensuring the development of appropriate global standards for new fuels or for alternative methods in order to meet compliance.
As environmental regulations strengthen, such as the air pollution regulations under MARPOL Annex VI, the market will decide how to respond. It will be up to ship operators to decide on which fuel to use or whether to use alternative, equivalent methods (such as scrubbers), so long as these are approved by the flag State as meeting the air pollutant requirements.
At the moment, the number of LNG-fuelled ships is relatively small. An IMO-commissioned study identified some 40 LNG-fuelled merchant ships in operation with a further 40 under construction or undertaking conversion.
The same study notes that the use of LNG is considered to have significant environmental advantages. An LNG-fuelled ship reduces the emissions of NOx by 85% to 90% (using a gas-only engine), and SOx and particles by close to 100% compared to conventional fuel oil. In addition, LNG-fuelled ships may result in a net reduction of GHG emissions.
Recognizing the increasing number of gas-fuelled ships, IMO has developed and adopted the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), which contains mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using low-flashpoint fuels, focusing initially on LNG. It becomes mandatory under amendments to the SOLAS Convention which will enter into force on 1 January 2017.
IMO has also adopted amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), and STCW Code, to include new mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code. These amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2017.
Please describe the importance of training and development in the shipping sector:
Effective standards of training are the bedrock of a safe and secure shipping industry and it is clear that without a quality labour force, motivated, trained and skilled to the appropriate international standards, shipping cannot thrive.
Moreover, personnel within the industry must have sufficient, quality training if they are to be able to implement the many advances that have been made, in terms of safety and environmental impact.
Shipping is highly technical, demanding considerable skill, knowledge and expertise from those who work in it and not everything can be learned on the job. So it is vital that shipping has a global network of specialist education and training establishments to ensure a continuing stream of high-calibre recruits.
And this is not just about seafarers. Maritime education needs broad coverage. Naval architecture, marine engineering, maritime law and many other fields all require specialist training.
IMO's long and wide-ranging involvement in the human element of shipping includes the adoption of the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, which has set the international benchmark for seafarer training and education. Compliance with its standards is essential for serving on board ships.
More information about the International Maritime Organization (IMO) can be found via the website http://www.imo.org and Twitter @IMOHQ
Matteo Perucchini, ocean rower for Sogno Atlantico & experienced athlete, decided to row across the Atlantic Ocean in December 2015 for two good reasons; raise funds for charity and to achieve the biggest challenge of his life, to row over 3,000 miles solo and completely unassisted. Matteo made it! He completed the crossing in 52 days, winning the solo category and setting a new race record.
What made you take up this challenge?
I have been rowing since I was a teenager but I discovered the world of ocean rowing by accident. I was actually searching online for books on Mt. Everest expeditions and that’s when I found an article on ocean rowing and more precisely on Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo, two Norwegians who in June 1896 rowed from New York to Isles of Scilly. I was mesmerized by the fact that such a feat was humanly achievable. I was hooked. I started reading book after book about ocean rowing and I first considered rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 2007. It was only in 2013 that I felt truly ready to face this challenge so I went to La Gomera to see the start of the Talisker Atlantic Challenge and before I knew it, I had signed up for the 2015 race.
Most people ask me why and there is no simple answer to this question. There are many factors and events that can lead a person to take this kind of decision. In the end, although the crossing was certainly an amazing adventure and sporting achievement, it was also a very personal inner journey.
How did you prepare?
There are many aspects when it comes to training for a challenge like this; you need to prepare mentally, physically and technically.
Physically I worked with a highly experienced trainer who had previously supported polar explorers and international athletes.
He developed an intense and challenging programme which enabled me to improve my fitness while at the same time allowing me to have enough time to focus on all the other aspects of preparing for an ocean crossing. Something I truly loved about the programme was how it changed all the time and incorporated a wide range of activities, from cycling to crossfit and boxing. I clearly couldn't avoid long sessions on the rowing machine though, which in some cases lasted for more than 24 hours.
Although physical preparation was very important for a challenge like mine, it was not essential. The key to a successful crossing was mental preparation. Both yoga and meditation played a very important role. Short sessions that I could continue to do on the boat despite the 18/20 hours of rowing per day that I had to sustain during the crucial parts of the race. These allowed me to find the right mental balance and overcome the myriad of obstacles, which you have to face on a daily basis during an ocean crossing.
As for the technical preparation, I attended a number navigation and sea survival courses and the boat was for more than 12 months at Cantiere Costantini on Lake Maggiore in the north of Italy, where she was fitted and prepared.
Being out at sea alone for over 52 days must have been difficult. What was you most challenging moment?
Being at sea for 52 days was a true privilege and I feel very fortunate to have undertaken this challenge
but it was also very hard. Storms were the worst part of the crossing, especially when they hit at night.
They left quite deep emotional scars which made it hard to keep on rowing after sunset but now that I’m back on land and I’m lucky enough to be able to look back at those moments, I feel that they are an essential part of what made this journey truly special.
The Atlantic passage was for a worthy cause - what has been the media impact of such an achievement?
My row was in support of the Associazione Italiana per la Lotta al Neuroblastoma (ANB) and Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY). Neuroblastoma is a malignant tumour which affects mainly infants and children under 10 years of age. The goal of ANB is to raise funds to support medical and scientific research on neuroblastoma. Every week in the UK at least 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions; CRY works to reduce the frequency of Young Sudden Cardiac Death (YSCD), promotes and develops heart screening programmes and funds medical research.
These are two truly fantastic charities and I really wanted to use my adventure and the publicity around the race to promote their causes and raise funds for them. As the first Italian to take part in this race I received quite a lot of media coverage before and during the race. Having won the solo race, the interest in Sogno Atlantico is continuing and it’s great to keep on promoting the two charities. I’ve also been contacted by many associations and companies that would like to hear my story and this is a great way to attend various events and continue raising funds for ANB and CRY.
What would you recommend others if trying to undergo crossing the Atlantic?
It’s never too early to start planning your challenge. There is an incredible number of things to plan and prepare. So start early!
Furthermore, when you choose to embark on a major challenge, you need to be prepared to make significant sacrifices. You have to be willing to invest all of your time and, in some cases, a lot of money into preparing for your challenge. You need to be honest with yourself and decide whether you’d be prepared to keep going even if you cannot find sponsors or do not receive support from friends and family. You really need to want to achieve the goal, this will drive you through the tough times, and there will be many of them.
Embarking on a large challenge is like starting a business, you need vision, tenacity, passion, discipline, self-belief, and a high tolerance to risk and stress. It will be hard, it will be painful but in the end, it will be worth it.
What's your next challenge?
In 2014 I cofounded a new business and I was lucky enough that my two business partners allowed me to drop everything and follow my dream. Now I want to focus on growing the business and continue the adventure that we started together. Nevertheless, I have been thinking of a few possible sport challenges although not as big as rowing an ocean solo. It’s a bit too early to tell though!
Other than this one, what has been your most memorable shipping experience?
Although I have nearly 20 years of rowing experience and my family have run a boatyard for over 100 years, I had very little experience of the open ocean. This Atlantic crossing was my first truly memorable shipping experience.
What's your favourite ship?
As a fan of the Aubrey-Maturin series, I’d have to say HMS Surprise.
Mike Schwarz, Chief Executive Officer of the International Institute of Marine Surveying (IIMS), an independent, non-political organisation promoting the professionalism, recognition and training of marine surveyors worldwide. Mike has been leading the IIMS now for just over two years and talks to Gibraltar Shipping about his long-term plans, what his role entails and the functions of this international body.
How has your experience helped you in your role as CEO of the IIMS?
I joined IIMS in January 2014 and I think my appointment took some by surprise as my background is neither technical nor marine. Perhaps that made me the maverick candidate? Be that as it may. In my opinion, it was clear that what IIMS needed was a business manager and not a marine surveyor heading up the organisation, someone who could look afresh at the organisation and find ways to re-engage with the membership and develop new initiatives. Clearly those who appointed me agreed!
My career spans 35 years in business. Over that time I have managed small and large enterprises and, as a ‘commercial animal’, my core skills lie in sales, marketing, web and general management in media, publishing, membership organisations and event management companies. I have brought basic, good management skills into the business and we are making good progress.
What are the key values of the IIMS?
First and foremost we are here to support our marine surveyor members worldwide. We aim to share best practice with them and to cascade relevant information and regulation changes to our members by various mediums, including email, web, video and social media.
We also aim to uphold the role and significance of professional marine surveyors, both small craft and commercial ship, within the maritime world.
What are your main objectives for 2016?
There are a number, but in no order of importance these are the key ones:
The IIMS is composed of over a 1,000 members across 90 countries. How do members benefit from the Institute?
Recognition and the ability to show letters after their name as members of a professional body. Use of the Institute’s logo on websites and letterheading. Each surveyor featured on the fully searchable online database via the website. The opportunity to engage in training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
An annual membership identity card. Quarterly publication – the Report Magazine, which has developed hugely and is now well read. Monthly news bulletin. Membership travel scheme. An inexpensive web design service.
Networking opportunities at conferences, seminars and other events. Easy access to original YouTube video content, plus LinkedIn and Twitter new feeds. To start the process of looking at how to develop the next generation of marine surveyors.
How important is training and development to those in the industry and what role does IIMS play to support personal development plans?
The buzz words last year wherever I went in the world were “surveyor standards and competency”. Technologies are changing in the industry as never before and at a fast rate. Surveyors need to be abreast of these changes if they wish to remain relevant.
IIMS insists that all members following a process of CPD as most similar professions do these days. CPD is the way they can develop and ensure their skills remain current.
For more than 15 years IIMS has provided distance learning, professional qualifications for surveyors in small craft and commercial ship marine surveying. The course material is extensive, current and of the highest quality.
We also run practical, low cost training days quite regularly both in the UK and further afield, particularly for small craft and MCA coding member surveyors. Our regional overseas branches also run conferences on an annual, or bi-annual basis.
What advice would you provide to a client seeking the services of a Marine Surveyor?
Marine surveying is an unusual profession in so far as there are few barriers to entry. There really is no such thing as a fully qualified surveyor. Most have acquired their knowledge through time served at sea and then backed up with training and education.
For someone seeking a surveyor word of mouth is a great way. Find someone who can recommend a surveyor. I would say only choose a surveyor who is a member of a professional body, although that does not necessarily guarantee competency of course. But to be absolutely sure ask a surveyor for a couple of references so you can make your own enquiries. A good surveyor will be happy to do that.
The Institute starts its twenty-fifth year of operation and prepares to celebrate its Silver Jubilee this year. What does this mean to the IIMS?
2016 is a big year for IIMS, the year we finally come of age as we start to celebrate our Silver Jubilee. The high point of the year will be a very special two day conference and awards ceremony in London in late summer. I am encouraging our regional branches, of which there are seven, to get involved by arranging local dinners and events to mark the occasion too.
As part of the celebrations, I have been doing some research into the very first gathering of surveyors back in 1991 on-board HMS Wellington. Sadly some have passed away and others now too old and frail. But I have reconnected with the first President, William MacDonald (Capt. Bill to his friends). He lost touch with IIMS a few years ago and was surprised to hear from me. We became instant friends! Very much one of the ‘founding fathers’ and a visionary, he told me about the struggle he and others faced from inside the industry in the early days. He also told me he was astonished to see how the Institute has flourished.
Your memorable shipping experience?
A memorable experience but not for the right reasons! So that I could better understand the role of a marine surveyor, I joined an experienced practitioner at Southampton Docks to oversee him at work. The job? Simple. To load 7 Sunseeker Yachts for onward transportation to the Med. I found the whole experience truly absorbing from the loading of one vessel off a low loader lorry to lifting one craft from the sea itself. But what made it memorable -for the wrong reasons- was watching the damaging of an expensive yacht as it swung uncontrollably into a steel bulkhead! It was at that point that the surveyor went into action, recording what he had seen and at that moment I totally understood the role and importance of the surveyor.
Your favourite ship?
I actually found this question the hardest to answer! My head is often turned by the many stunning superyachts of course and the growing range of explorer superyachts that are fast emerging. They are small ships in their own right. I am also fascinated by some of the strange and wonderful looking off-shore support vessels which sometimes defy logic in their design. However, each time I see the Queen Mary 2 emerging into The Solent from Southampton Docks as she sails serenely by, I am in awe and that is my favourite ship.
Bob Sanguinetti assumed the role of CEO and Captain of the Port of Gibraltar in May 2014. Born and raised in Gibraltar he studied at Oxford University and served in the Royal Navy for three decades, rising to the rank of Commodore. The former mariner served at sea and commanded several Royal Navy warships and a multinational coalition Task Group before working at the Ministry of Defence in a number of strategic roles. Most recently he was Head of Intelligence at the UK’s National Operations Headquarters in North London.
LNG is considered to be the "fuel of the future". Do you share this view?
Yes I do. Whilst I do not consider it to be the only fuel of the future, evidence and trends out there suggest that it is a matter of when and not if LNG becomes a prime source of energy for propulsion and electricity generation in the shipping world. LNG is already a proven and commercially viable solution, albeit currently only used in niche sectors. In the shorter term, we will continue to see a combination of different solutions such as scrubbers and distillate fuels being used as more restrictions are introduced.
The cruise industry has been growing over the past 20 years. Do you foresee sustainable growth in the future?
There is certainly no sign of an imminent slowdown in this sector. It is still considered to be a relatively ‘young’ industry and there are several reasons why one should be optimistic about the future. The biggest opportunity appears to be in attracting new-to-cruise customers. Secondly, larger and newer builds offer increasing capacity. There were seven new cruise ships in 2015 - another fifteen in 2016 and 2017 will see a substantial increase in passenger capacity. In addition, more local ports and destinations, and new onboard and ashore activities, together with growth in emerging markets such as Asia should see the passenger growth rate in the industry match or exceed the 7.2% annual average seen since 1990.
Here in Gibraltar, we seek to consolidate our position as a successful and popular cruise destination, where a cruise ship arrives into port within an hour of leaving the main shipping lanes, and the passengers can be enjoying the attractions or excursions within minutes of berthing.
Bunkering is a specialised sector with high regard for safety standards. What advice could you give ports that are starting to introduce bunkering as part of their shipping services?
Bunkering is an industry which has suffered from negative associations, particularly in light of the environmental impact of oil spills caused by vessel casualties losing their bunker fuels. The fact that most of these issues are not directly related to or caused by bunker supply operations is something which is mostly overlooked when considering this. Any port looking to (or already undertaking) bunkering activities therefore has a strong incentive to have a bunkering regulatory regime which demonstrably shows the highest safety and environmental standards incorporated.
This will also assist in making the bunkering industry successful; in today’s world ship owners and operators will be loath to call at ports which are not associated with high standards.
Generally, how important should the environment be in shipping?
As individuals, we all have an important role to play in striving for a cleaner environment. As an industry (shipping and related sectors such as ports and terminals), we have a collective responsibility. This is made harder by shipping’s poor track record on environmental issues, so we must be seen to be exploring and seizing every opportunity to deliver cleaner, more efficient modes of transport. Whilst significant progress has been made in recent years there is still evidence of bad practice, such as vessels deliberately routed to avoid burning fuel in emission control areas (ECA), in turn maximising the time where they can burn cheaper fuel, containing higher amounts of sulphur. Conversely, there is also plenty of evidence of responsible behaviour where cargo owners and shippers try to pick their vessels on the basis of sensible and accepted greenhouse gas emission performance criteria. But, as a community, we need to be ambitious in our aspirations. Proactive action and industry wide agreements on voluntary targets are, in my view, a prudent way to avoid potentially unrealistic rules imposed by external regulators.
What more can be done by the shipbreaking countries in improving their reputation?
Shipbreaking is a global industry. The challenges facing the wider shipping community regarding this activity therefore require a holistic approach if we are to see positive results. The shipbreaking countries need robust political and legislative action to protect workers’ rights and working conditions, whilst demanding and enforcing internationally acceptable shipbreaking practices. Shipbreaking companies must make it mandatory for their workplaces to maintain minimum safety standards through a concerted campaign of awareness programmes and close supervision. This needs to be accompanied internationally by strict adherence to the likes of the Hong Kong convention and EU Ship Recycling Regulation by shipping companies, together with a commitment to place workers’ rights and the environment above profit, when choosing shipbreaking facilities.
What role does marketing play in promoting shipping, and how is this applied by the GPA?
Marketing is a fundamental component part of the strategy of anyone involved in the shipping industry. We operate in a hugely competitive environment against very tight margins and marketing one’s products or services is beneficial to both the supplier and the customer in identifying optimum solutions. At the GPA we place marketing at the forefront of our business, following a three strand approach; advertising, attending and sponsoring high profile industry conferences and conventions,
and, most importantly, direct engagement with ship owners and operators. At the Port of Gibraltar we value our hard earned first class reputation as a centre of innovation and maritime excellence. But we are by no means complacent – open dialogue with the shipping community allows us to better understand their needs, so that we may adapt and evolve in order to continue providing the best possible service to ships calling at Gibraltar.
In your view, what key transformations will the shipping industry experience over the next few years?
The two key factors likely to drive transformation in the future are technology and the environment. No stones are being left unturned by the shipping industry in the drive to contribute towards a greener marine environment. We will continue to see advances in cleaner fuels, ballast water management, more efficient propellers and rudders, hull paints and waste heat recovery systems. In the longer term, in an age of aerial drones and driver-less cars and trains, the most revolutionary, if not controversial, development could well be the emergence of unmanned and autonomous ships. Whilst there are significant technological and socio political challenges to overcome, the benefits are clear and much of the technology already exists.
Your memorable maritime experience and favourite ship?
My (generic) memorable maritime experience is the thrill you experience as you pull into a port for the first time, be it on a small yacht or an aircraft carrier. Specifically, the excitement of steaming eastward through the Strait of Gibraltar during the morning watch, cup of coffee in hand, as you see the crouched lion silhouette of the Rock appear against the rising sun would be hard to beat!
As for favourite ship, it would have to be my two commands during my time in the Royal Navy – the Minehunter ‘BERKELEY’ and the frigate ‘GRAFTON’ – a wonderful experience and privilege.
But I have to say that, as a proud Gibraltarian, I am extremely delighted to be back in my birthplace and contributing to the well-being and continued development of such a dynamic and vibrant port.
Interview: Andrew Clifton, General Manager & Chief Executive of SIGTTO (The Society of International Gas Tanker & Terminal Operators Ltd)
Andrew Clifton is the General Manager and Chief Executive of SIGTTO (The Society of International Gas Tanker & Terminal Operators Ltd), and has over 30 years' experience in the liquefied gas shipping industry. Andrew is passionate about the industry and he tells us more about his role and the invaluable experiences gained over his extensive career.
What are your main functions as General Manager and Chief Executive of SIGTTO?
The Society is a non profit making organisation and the international body established for the exchange of technical information and experience, between members of the industry, to enhance the safety and operational reliability of gas tankers and terminals.
As General Manager I am responsible for the management of the Society and as the Chief Executive, carry out the policies and instructions that are laid down by the Board of Directors. I represent the Society, and in effect, the industry, at a senior level at meetings with other professional bodies, members and trade associations such as the International Maritime Organisaton (IMO) and major conferences.
How has your 30 years' experience in the liquefied gas industry prepared you for your role?
It’s been invaluable, the liquefied gas industry and especially the LNG shipping industry, is very different to the rest of the shipping industry. LNG vessels are very complex, capital intensive vessels with a high degree of sophistication built into them. There are also different types of LPG carriers, fully refrigerated, semi-pressurised and fully pressurised and I was fortunate to serve on them all in a senior capacity and also served from cadet to master on gas vessels.
To successfully fulfil this position, it is fundamental that the General Manager has extensive experience in the liquefied gas shipping industry
SIGTTO is known for promoting best practices across the gas shipping and terminal industries. How is this achieved and what are the main challenges when implementing such practices?
The Society publishes studies, and produces information papers and works of reference, for the guidance of industry members. It maintains working relationships with other industry bodies, governmental and intergovernmental agencies, including the IMO, to better promote the safety and integrity of gas transportation and storage schemes.
The LNG industry continues to expand and introduce new technologies. Larger ships with new types of propulsion systems are now in service and the fleet continues to grow apace. FSRUs and FLNG vessels are now also part of the industry. All these advances ensure that there are many challenges in the liquefied gas shipping and terminal industry today.
Not least of these challenges is the supply of ship crews, shore support staff and trainers to provide the required number of trained and competent staff needed in an era of unprecedented growth.
In respect of training the SIGTTO competency standards for crews onboard both LNG and LPG vessels have become the industry best practice recommendation. The standards provide operators with guidance as to the specific competencies each individual should possess before serving in that rank. These standards are above and beyond the minimum requirements of IMO’s Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention.
How do members benefit from SIGTTO?
Benefits of SIGTTO are substantial, and are not just limited to credibility in the industry. Much of SIGTTO's work is publicly available but the most important part is not.
Members' benefit by:
LNG is described as the "fuel of the future". Do you share this view?
LNG is one of the three choices available to ship owners (scrubbers and distillates being the others) to meet the requirements of the emission control areas. There is no doubt it is a future fuel for conventional shipping but it is unlikely to happen as fast as some parties are making out. At present, unless your vessel trades exclusively within an ECA, the only reason to change is price, bunker prices have also fallen and the high capital cost of conversion to LNG has put off a lot of shipowners, plus there is no real infrastructure in operation today to support deep sea vessels bunkering with LNG.
This may all change if the IMO go ahead with the global emissions cap in 2020, the decision will be taken in 2018 – watch this space!
SIGTTO has no doubt that LNG can be safely used as ship’s bunkers however we believe that LNG as fuel should be carried, in principle, with the same designs, procedures, training, control measures and best practices as has been used in the half century of successful LNG vessel operation.
A major incident on a LNG-fuelled vessel, especially one involving passengers, would impact the LNG shipping industry but also have the potential for port and flag states to impose severe restrictions, or even prohibit entry within their jurisdictions, for LNG-fuelled conventional vessels.
The Nuclear powered ship “Savannah” probably has the best emissions record of all time amongst commercial vessels; however it never fully gained the confidence of port and flag states. To avoid supplying potential modern day successors to the “Savannah” (now a museum ship), it is imperative that the shipping industry embraces the use of LNG as a fuel in the same manner that the LNG shipping industry has. The Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF), which SIGTTO formed in 2013, is the new industry body to oversee the use of LNG as a marine fuel.
Generally, "Safety" in the liquefied gas industry is a subject of discussion. What is your position?
Safety is our licence to operate as an industry. In the 50 years since they loaded their first commercial shipment, LNG carriers have safely delivered over 80,000 cargoes. These consignments all reached their destination with no breach of a cargo containment system and with no onboard fatalities directly attributable to the cargo. This is a very impressive, in fact unprecedented, safety record for the carriage of liquid hydrocarbons by sea in bulk.
2015: First LNG transhipment (STS) in the Bay of Gibraltar
This exemplary safety record is due to several reasons. These include, but are not limited to, a strong, overarching safety philosophy; robust equipment and systems design; good operational and maintenance procedures; operating in excess of the minimum requirements and according to best practice guidelines; and high standards of training coupled with competency verification.
Educating the public is extremely important for liquefied gas shipping and the public needs to be made aware that gas carriers are not the “floating bombs” that some scare-mongerers portray them to be.
Public perception is often that an incident on a gas carrier will result in a huge explosion that may harm people and property in the vicinity. The public needs to learn that these vessels are robust ships, soundly designed and constructed and well equipped with safety and emergency systems. The public also needs to be aware that catastrophic events caused by hydrocarbon gases in the liquid phase are few. As an example, in a fire accident scenario refrigerated liquefied gas tanks can burn until fuel is consumed but they are highly unlikely to explode.
How important is the International Gas Carrier (IGC) Code to the industry?
Amongst other factors that have contributed to LNG shipping’s remarkable safety record is the fact that the IGC Code was developed based on actual experiences in the early days of LNG transport and our industry’s ability to share lessons learnt and to develop universally accepted best practices.
Credit also needs to be given to the pioneers who contributed first to the development of design standards and operating procedures during the early days of liquefied gas shipping and then to the development of the IGC Code, with its safety margins and safe design provisions. They played a key role in laying the foundation stones on which the industry’s excellent safety performance has been built.
SIGTTO was heavily involved in the recent revision of the IGC Code and facilitated the revision on behalf of the IMO. The Revised Code was Adopted at MSC 93 (May 2014) and entered into force on 1st January 2016. The Implementation date is 1st July 2016 . It is not retroactively applied and only applies to vessels contracted/keel laid after 1st July 2016.
What has been the most exciting period of your career?
I have been lucky enough to have many enjoyable and rewarding periods of my career, I think my seven years as chief officer onboard a first generation 1960s built LPG tonnage was amongst the most challenging but also rewarding, looking back it was invaluable experience although I probably didn’t appreciate it at the time!
Being the LNG shipping manager for a major LNG project (BP Tangguh in Indonesia) was also very rewarding. I oversaw the whole shipping operation from steel cutting through to delivery, commissioning and the first dry docks for seven large time chartered LNG vessels. But the greatest honour and privilege I have been asked to do is being the General Manager of SIGTTO, an organisation I have been involved with for many years.
What is your favourite ship and your most memorable shipping experience?
I think probably the “Excel”, built in 1967 one of the first LPG vessels in the world and a challenge to operate when I was chief officer and master on her in the 1990s. Just keeping the vessel safely and efficiently trading with the help of excellent support from ashore was a great example of teamwork and achievement. I do remember the USCG asking where the cargo control room was – there wasn’t one as it was a 100% manual vessel with all operations carried out locally and manually! Those were the days…
Keith Maynard is a popular UK Presenter, Actor, Voice Artist and Cruise Travel Expert. Passionate about cruise ships, and although he is now on dry land, he has spent the last 15 years in the cruise industry, 12 years at sea, including 3 years as the Entertainment Director of the Cunard Queens. Keith has also spent his last 3 years as the co-presenter of the Planet Cruise TV Show. He tells us more about his role, the industry and his experiences.
You are a versatile individual, why focus on the cruise industry?
The cruise industry gave me the chance to see the world whilst entertaining people and making them happy… well most of them! It's an incredibly exciting industry to work in where you get to work in a truly international environment and it's been very good to me. But to be honest, I never intended to work in the cruise industry.. it was a purely chance conversation with a bronzed actor friend in a freezing greenroom in Yorkshire that eventually led to me being offered the chance to work at sea.. and at that point, anything seemed better than huddling round a gas heater in an old freezing cloth mill in Holmfirth!
The cruise market is a multi-million industry. How popular are cruise holidays in the UK and what are the most popular destinations?
Cruising is the fastest growing part of the UK holiday market, with an estimated 2 million Britons taking a cruise in 2015. South East Asia and the Caribbean are still two of the most popular areas to cruise too, though for most people it's still the Mediterranean and the Fjords, which leads the way particularly as they can choose to cruise directly from the UK avoiding the discomfort of a flight and its limiting luggage allowance. Also, in the last couple of years, river cruising has really begun to captivate the imaginations of British cruisers with its more relaxed and personal experience, attracting an audience who seek really inclusive destination-intensive holidays, sailing down some of Europe's greatest waterways.
Cruising has expanded over the last 20 years mainly due to the attractiveness of destinations, port infrastructure and majestic new ships. Do you foresee continued growth over coming years?
The short answer is “yes”. There are still new deeper water ports being built all over the world to attract the new brand of super ships ushered in with Royal Caribbean's “Oasis” Class. The competition to attract cruise lines to dock at their port is worth millions to the local economies. I remember checking out potential new docks and destinations for a couple of the lines I worked for, and we were wined and dined and treated like lords in an attempt to seal the deal. And as I write this, 36 brand new cruise ships are on order taking us right through until 2022, and with Viking now moving into Ocean and Richard Branson deciding to enter the fray, there is no sign of the market slowing down!
What are the main differences between cruising in Europe and the US?
Cruising in the US is seen very differently. It's a more saturated market which is loved by young and old alike. In the UK, cruising is still shaking off the misconception of it only attracting the “grey pound” but that is beginning to happen and the potential for expansion in the UK is far greater as there is such a huge untapped market. The US is also still the main market innovator. Long gone are the days when British-built ships led the way, not only in design, but in holding the fame of winning the coveted blue ribbon. These days the new groundbreaking designs are being built in Germany and Italy for the big US giants of Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
How resilient has the cruise market been to the recent economic crisis?
Due to the ever growing number of cruise ships to choose from and the ensuing price war to attract new customers and retain the old, you could say that prices have been going down at the right time. Cruising is definitely the best value holiday available and therefore has not suffered unduly. In fact, because so much of the cost is paid upfront, cruise holidays have been seen as a safer option where people can budget more effectively.
Gibraltar is an attractive port for cruise calls all year round. What is your opinion about this location and its volumes?
Gibraltar was always one of my favourite ports of call and it's always one of the main highlights on any cruise ship itinerary. Laurie Lee once said it's like a “piece of Portsmouth sliced off and towed 500 miles
There is so much on offer at present. Do you have any tips on what to look out for before booking a cruise holiday?
Today there is more choice than ever and however you like to holiday there is a cruise line and ship that will be a perfect fit. For me, it's smaller ships that spend longer in port and focus more on the food. For others, it might be bigger ships with more entertainment or the chance to sail under canvas and climb the rigging. The only advice I can give is that it's no longer best to wait until the last minute – some lines are now offering to cover the reduction of any cruise you book early and certain companies offer better deals the earlier you book. But my best tip is to tune into the Planet Cruise Show at 8pm GMT on Tuesday's on Ideal World or watch it online at www.planetcruise.co.uk. Planet Cruise are the #1 UK cruise travel agent for most of the main cruise lines and therefore they get exclusive discounts that you simply won't see anywhere else. You can also follow me live on Twitter for the latest cruise information, updates and news via @beefikeefi .
What is your most memorable shipping experience and your favourite ship?
My favourite ship is my last - QM2 – I had three great years as an Entertainment (cruise) Director for Cunard and while I loved all three “queens”, QM2 is one of a kind. The worlds last true ocean liner. Built to cross the Atlantic in any weather, to keep to a schedule despite mother nature's best efforts, the only ship to welcome cats and dogs as well as humans and the fastest passenger ship in the world, capable of an incredible 32 knots. She has no equal and is a glorious reminder of the golden age of ocean travel, when countries flexed their industrial might by building the biggest, fastest and most beautiful ships.
My favorite experience was sailing through the Corinth Canal onboard the little 11,000 ton Calypso, literally just squeezing through as I regaled our guests with its fascinating history and we watched foxes sprint along the near vertical walls of the manmade wonder that splits the Isthmus of Greece.
Oh, and then there was the time I interviewed Sir David Frost….
Or the day we met the replica of the HMS Bark Endeavour during our circumnavigation of Australia on QM2… I could go on… and on… and on….
More on Keith Maynard...
Following a high-profile campaign, IMO agreed to adopt a Resolution last year which commits governments to resolving the problems raised by ICS, so that the Convention will hopefully be fit for purpose when it finally enters force. Unfortunately, the different regime being applied in the United States is complicating things even further and making global implementation even more chaotic. The U.S. ballast water regime is already in force, but the U.S. has still not yet approved any treatment systems that shipowners can install with confidence. This is also delaying entry into force of the IMO ballast regime, because governments that have not ratified the IMO Convention will probably remain reluctant to do so until this mess in the U.S. is sorted out.
How did your years of experience in the shipping industry prepare you for your current role?
Through my many years in shipping, I have developed a deep appreciation of the need for shipping to be governed by an international regulatory framework. We are a global industry and without global rules we have chaos.
For an individual company, unilateral regulation, whether regional, national or local, can create big problems, affecting the efficiency of operations and a shipowner’s ability to compete fairly in international markets. First-hand experience of this has provided a solid foundation for my role as Chairman of ICS, which strives everyday to promote the global regulation of the shipping industry.
On a more practical level, I have previously spent a great deal of time working in the liner shipping sector, where I regularly attended consortia negotiations with shipping companies based in other nations. Through this process, I think I learned how to manage and conclude debates effectively and how to reconcile differences of opinion in order to reach consensus between different parties. This has also been very helpful when overseeing the adoption of ICS policy positions by our Board which must balance the interests of the different national associations.
What has been your most challenging moment?
I’m not sure that any one ‘moment’ stands out, however there have certainly been overarching challenges that have been particularly prominent. One of these has been addressing how the shipping industry’s CO2 emissions should be further regulated. There is immense pressure on governments to develop CO2 reduction measures for application to shipping, in addition to those technical and operational regimes already adopted by IMO. Engaging with governments to ensure that any further regulation is only developed at IMO for global application, and is proportionate to shipping’s contribution to the world’s CO2 emissions is an enduring challenge for ICS.
How concerned is the ICS with environmental protection?
Safety of life at sea must always be our greatest priority, but the protection of the marine environment is a very close second and it is actually environmental issues that take up most of ICS’s time, because this is what dominates the agenda of our regulators such as IMO.
For the past 40 years, ICS has very been influential in the development of MARPOL Convention and its Annexes, which comprehensively regulate all aspects of environmental performance from garbage management to sulphur emissions and CO2, not forgetting the need to prevent oil pollution of course. ICS has also participated actively in the development of the IMO Civil Liability Conventions covering compensation from oil spills, the Ballast Convention as we have discussed as well as the Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention and things like the IMO Polar Code. ICS works hard to raise awareness of these regulations throughout the industry and develops practical guidance on how they can be best implemented.
We continue to witness mass migrations in unsafe craft in the Mediterranean Sea. In your view, what is the solution?
Shipowners and their crews have been deeply affected by this crisis, and merchant ships have already assisted with the rescue of over 65,000 people. There are of course no easy solutions. The root causes are political and probably beyond our capacity to influence. But ICS has continued to press governments to dedicate additional search and rescue resources to the region, so as to prevent an over-reliance on merchant vessels to conduct large scale rescues. Coming to the aid of anyone in distress at sea is a deeply held maritime tradition, as well as an obligation under international law. But merchant vessels and crews are not best equipped to conduct these large scale rescue of hundreds of people at a time, nor should they be expected to be. The crews onboard our ships are seafarers, not search and rescue professionals. Something which is often overlooked is the impact that these rescues are having on our crews.
Piracy continues to be a global threat. Do you foresee a reduction in piracy attacks over the coming years and how can this be achieved?
Piracy is indeed a global threat, and we currently witnessing high levels of activity in West Africa and South East Asia. Of course there are important differences in the forms piracy can take in different regions, and the solutions that work in one area may not be applicable to another. But generally speaking, the reduction in the incidents off the coast of Somalia and in the Indian Ocean in recent years would seem to underline the importance of a multi-dimensional approach to tackling piracy. The compliance by the industry with its own Best Management Practices on preventing attack, together with the deployment of naval forces in the region, have led to a dramatic reduction in the number of attacks. That said, we cannot rest on our laurels and the possibility of a resurgence in Somali pirate activity cannot be written off.
In your view, what stresses will the shipping industry continue to face over the next 12/24 months?
In economic terms, it appears that the shipping industry will continue to face a difficult demand/supply imbalance, with slowdown in world trade as a result of continuing problems in the Eurozone and the economic slowdown in China dampening demand for shipping at a time of continued overcapacity in most trades. Although on the whole, demand does appear to be slowly recovering from the 2008 slowdown, it is doing so at a gradual and varied pace. The challenge of implementing new environmental regulations is one that the industry has faced and will continue to face moving forward. New IMO requirements for the use of low Sulphur fuel in Emissions Control Areas came into effect in January this year, and the industry is continuing to adjust to the new regime. Though issues still remain, not least with respect to the parallel regime in the United States, the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention is also expected to enter into force within the next two years. Complying with this new regulation will be a major adjustment for the industry.
What is your view of Gibraltar's shipping industry?
Gibraltar is an exciting maritime hub. The Gibraltar Ship Registry ranks amongst some of the best performing flags by most assessments, including the ICS Flag State Performance Table, and has done now for many years. The registry’s now attracting tonnage from a range of shipping sectors and owners from a wide spread of geographical locations. As a port, Gibraltar has of course always been a strategically significant hub, connecting as it does the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This is not about to change, and it is good that significant investment is being made into the development of the port’s services and the expansion of its capacity. This mutually beneficial relationship between Gibraltar and the global shipping industry would seem to me to have a very bright future.
Your market reports are highly regarded by the shipping community. How do you start building a report and how do you manage the different sources of information and their veracity?
BIMCO Market Analysis holds trustworthiness as a core value. BIMCO analyse the market for the industry, in order to understand it fundamentally. From that we form our unbiased opinion, as we believe it’s what the industry needs. The only agenda we have is to service our members in the best possible way. On the back of more than six years now, I am proud of what we have achieved in BIMCO, but we are now done here, we continuously strive to improve our insights. An integral part of that is to always stay abreast with who provides quality information. We continuously evaluate our sources.
Building a report or a market comment always starts with something going on in global macroeconomic side of things, or a pure shipping event that we would like to know more about because it affects the market – something is going on. We then back up our initial idea with solid data, as we are fundamentalists - passionate about the market, but we do not build a “case” on rumours.
For our quarterly Shipping Market Overview & Outlook we then start our work on the supply side. Getting the data from either of the two major fleet data suppliers, in a raw format. Then we add our market insight and understanding of the dynamics of the order book and of how the data is compiled by the supplier. This brings us to the BIMCO supply forecast where orders that will never be built are removed and orders that will not be delivered as scheduled are postponed. We don’t consider orders not placed in this report. That is left for the 10 year forecast we do in the BIMCO/ICS Manpower Update 2015, which will be released by the end of November 2015.
The African continent continues in the spotlight with shipping lines opening more trade routes. What advice would you give to shipping companies considering this option as part of their business plan?
The African continent provides a wide array of opportunities. This goes for dry bulk, containers and tankers as well as the more specialized parts of shipping. In the maritime industry relationships matter, so if you want to do business in Africa tomorrow you might as well start to work on your relations today. Currently, Africa as such is not a big market if you look beyond some specialized trade and the all-important sweet crude oil exports out of West Africa. But a futurist once told me not to underestimate Africa. Surely I am not doing that, but merely putting things into perspective when I point to the fact that the entire African continent has a GDP of the same size as Italy. We need to be a bit further down the road before Africa as such becomes a driver in the shipping market. Until then, we will monitor the developments closely.
What are the current challenges for shipping lines securing credit to finance vessel acquisitions? Do ship owners have many finance options to choose from?
We have just passed the 7th “anniversary” of the Lehman Brothers crash. That event changed everything, also as regard to ship financing. Before the crisis, it appeared as if banks and other lenders did not put the right price on risk, meaning that you could obtain the same conditions regardless of whether your newbuilding would go directly into a 10-year time charter with an A-rated financially rock solid counterpart or trade fully in the spot market at its mercy. Today, the price-setting of risk has “normalised”. Many of the lenders now have to hold higher reserves if they want to lend out to shipping interests, due to regulation i.e. Basel III as well as a more cautious approach to shipping lending as the bank attach a higher risk to the shipping industry today than it was the case before. This means financing is more expensive and more difficult to get.
In theory, this development has resulted in ship owners seeking financing elsewhere and there are many options to choose from i.e. bond issues, private equity, Export Credit Agencies etc. Bank lending however, remains the preferred option as fewer strings are attached it. While financing surely is more difficult to obtain today, you cannot say those difficulties have resulted in a significantly lower number of newbuilding orders.
What are the key variables affecting shipping freight rates in the current market?
It is the same “2 times 5” fundamental variables that have always affected the freight rates. On the demand side we have: world economy, seaborne trade, average haul, random shocks and transport cost. On the supply side we have: world fleet, fleet productivity, shipbuilding production, scrapping and freight revenue. All in order of importance. Certainly, we have a “new normal” in shipping, but that only means that we have to get used to slower growth rates and adapt to that in our decision making. In terms of the freight rate mechanism, an oversupplied market finds it equilibrium freight rate on the elastic part of the supply curve. An example of this, is the current dry bulk market. Only when all ships are in service and operate at a more normal speed level the supply side becomes in-elastic and freight rates become very sensitive to changes in demand. An example of this is the current crude oil tanker market.
Supported by my good colleagues in BIMCO Education and their eLearning abilities I am fortunate to teach at Danish Shipping Academy. This is where a lot of the new talents in shipping are bred. A key part of our discussions in class focus on understanding the dynamics of the freight market which is influenced by the before mentioned fundamental variables.
LNG is considered by many as the fuel of the future. What are your views on LNG bunkering and do you foresee sustainable growth in this area?
In 1912, M/S Selandia market the beginning of a new era in shipping as it was the first large diesel-powered ship, until then coal-burning steam ships had been used. Nevertheless it took many years for the merchant fleet to become fully diesel-powered. Some of the reasons for that we also see today for one of the fuels of the future: LNG. First and foremost, availability is key. I know that Gibraltar is committed to add LNG bunkering to their already wide pallet of services to the industry, and a global
As a shipping centre, what would you highlight about Gibraltar and what would you consider its main benefits?
It’s unique location where the Med meets the Atlantic, in the middle of continents and trading lanes and a shipping centre with more and more services being added as we go along, Gibraltar has the fundamentals in place to become an even more important player in the market in the future.
What attracted you to the shipping industry in the first place?
I love economics and geography and have a general interest in understanding what goes on everywhere in the world. In our industry these are central pillars. Quickly I also realised that our industry attracts all kinds of people, all kinds of backgrounds and we come from all over the world. In common, we have adventurousness. Have spent a decade in shipping, I take pride in being a part of the global family that our industry truly is.
Apart from your role as Analyst, you also teach maritime trainee`s. How important is training and development in this industry?
I would say it’s all-important. For seafarers as well as landlubbers. Knowledge needs to be passed on the next generation of shipping people. BIMCO has a lot of family-owned businesses in our membership and for them passing on a lifetime of experience and know-how onto the sons, daughters, and other relatives or partners etc. is essential.
You can only pass on so many things, BIMCO assists generations with “all the rest”. Be it: technical guidance, contractual knowledge, education or our vast database of information, the BIMCO staff is ready to service members across the shipping industry.
Personally, I really enjoy sharing what I know and how I see things. This goes for my relations with trainees as it goes for CEO’s. Nevertheless, it’s equally important also to be able to listen, as you may well learn something new or get different aspects on the matters at hand. As an analyst your window into the world of seaborne shipping doesn’t necessarily sit next to that of the seafarer, the bank, the ship manager or the ship owner. Sharing our views and the ability to listen to that of others, is key to a better mutual understanding.
Your favourite book:
As a professional it’s Stopford’s Maritime Economics. You take something new with you every time you read it. As a private person – I am a sports fan, crazy about motorsports, football and cycling. Right now I speed-read the memoires of a life on a bicycle, by the former cycling professional with Team Telekom etc. Brian Holm. The book is called “Enjoy the pain” (Originally: Smerten - glæden). Full of humour and insights from an enclosed world. After reading his more recent book this summer, which was focused on his year with ups and downs, as sporting director with HTC Highroad in the year 2011, ending with Mark Cavendish becoming the World Road Cycling Champion and the dissolvent of HTC-H team, I needed more – and I got it.
Your favourite ship:
As a professional it would be the Panamax dry bulk carrier Nord Navigator. She took me on a journey from Hamburg to Sveagruva on Svalbard in November 2014. This was a huge experience and it brought me a richer picture of the entire industry. From discharge to loading, enjoying extraordinary hospitality on board as I got to know the entire crew during their daily work. Admittedly, we did also share a few songs on the karaoke machine. Wonderful people. In many ways this journey also embeds what shipping is all about – relations. Thanks to my former colleagues at D/S Norden for given me this opportunity and making it happen.
As a private person, it would be my kayak, or rather my kayak clubs’. This summer I took my license proving that I had obtained the basics of how to handle such a “ship”. Being on the water as a rookie, you need to be fully focused – psychically as well as mentally. If you’re not, you’ll end up in the lake. During my training I earned the nickname: “pool attendant”, I’ll guess it was due my multiple capsizing. Today I normally stay in the kayak.
Thanks for giving me this interview opportunity.
the globe the attractiveness of these ports and the associated destinations, we smooth the spreading of best practices in more cruise ports and make the presence of such practices known, and, not least, we facilitate any other essential adjustments via interactions with cruise lines.
Expanding further the constructive and collaborative work already that had been done since the establishment of MedCruise sustains as a major daily excitement for all us involved in the Association. Besides, we have realised that working together our members can represent an even more attractive choice for the cruise lines and passengers. Preserving and enriching the diversity of the experiences offered in our members has all the prospects to strengthen their presence in the cruise industry.
How does MedCruise promote the cruise industry in the Mediterranean and adjoining seas?
Our Association offers to all ports and associate members a unique range of services. We facilitate their interaction with cruise lines, through business-to-business meetings. We provide the infrastructure to our members to be present in all major cruise related events around the globe, whether these are happening in Europe, America, and Asia. National events are also happenings where MedCruise is also present allowing our members to interact with cruise liners and other stakeholders. In most cases, all MedCruise members might exhibit inside the MedCruise Pavilion enjoying preferential treatment in terms of location, centrality and cost of space.
Beyond marketing and promotion, we represent Med ports in decision-making fora, promoting a meaningful policy agenda to advance their interest. At the same time, we develop studies allowing the sharing of best practices, and benchmarking, while we organise professional development courses that enable our members to advance their knowledge and ultimately improve their daily work and long-term strategies.
MedCruise has been instrumental in promoting the collaboration of cruise ports in Europe. Last year we formed the Network of Cruise and Ferry Ports, that is set within the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), and brings together all cruise ports of Europe to promote best practices.
At European level, MedCruise has also played a key role in putting the promotion of cruising in the agenda of the European institutions. Last March marked the official opening by the European Commission of a pan-European dialogue searching for a long-term strategy, that has the potential to benefit cruising throughout Europe.
Finally, I need to emphasize that we are the first Association that visited Asia, in fact we did so for two successive years, as we see there a first-class opportunity to develop a source market that will bring more cruise passengers in the Med in the future. MedCruise is heading ‘East’ with this expansion including the participation in cruise events in Asia, the circulation of special brochures in Chinese and Korean presenting the attractiveness of the Mediterranean region, the publication of three editions of related promotional videos, while right now we are working on a targeted marketing strategy exclusively focusing on the Chinese market.
How do members benefit from their association to MedCruise?
The Association assists its members in benefiting from the growth of the cruise industry by providing networking, as well as promotional and professional development opportunities. Some of the key benefits that the Association offers to its membership are listed above.
Internally, our members are actively involved in the work of the Association. The sharing of experiences, the collaboration between our members have helped them to increase the value of their work and improve the services the port of the region offer to cruise lines. The platform we regularly offer them to discuss with cruise lines is offering unique opportunity to them. While these are not always evident to observers, it is an accomplishment acknowledged by our members and has a significant impact to the improvement of the cruise services offered by MedCruise ports.
Do you foresee future growth within the cruise industry in the Mediterranean?
Over the last decade ports in the Med experienced the benefits of expansionary deployment strategy by cruise lines. The impact is remarkable in all respects: 197% growth of deployed bed days since 2002, and a 49% growth of deployed bed days since 2008. The trend continued even when the global financial crisis of 2008 affected the passengers source markets most of all, or the multiple political and economic crisis became evident in the region more recently. Cruise in the Med has survived the ‘perfect storm’.
Given the strong consumer interest in cruising, the expansion of destinations and itineraries, and not least the further modernisation of the cruise fleet and cruise product, stakeholders look forward to further growth. The comparatively moderate estimates forecasts that the number of passengers to cruise worldwide in 2018 to be more than 24 million.
Whether the Mediterranean region will continue to grow, either in absolute numbers, or in terms of market shares, is subject to a number of parameters. With cruise ports continuing to respond to the challenges, to adapt operational practices and infrastructures, and to advance the integration of the cruise related strategies of various destination stakeholders, the wide variety of cruise destinations, features, and cultures in the Med and its adjoining seas is a positive background for opportunities for expansion to be realised.
How relevant is Gibraltar's cruise industry compared to other players in the Mediterranean?
Gibraltar is a cruise destination that has for long attracted the genuine interest of cruise passengers and cruise lines. Two hundred cruise calls and approximately 300.000 passengers visit Gibraltar every year, with the port adjusting continuously and effectively to the challenges that occur.
There are all the prospects that this will continue to be a cruise destination of interest, an essential passage in some of the most exciting cruise itineraries in the Med. As such, cruise will continue to generate value and benefit the local economy.
Mediterranean cruises are appealing to tourists. What are the main advantages?
The Mediterranean Sea is a unique world region. It unites three continents and more than 20 different countries with diverge cultural identities. This is unique in all respects. Within cruise itineraries that last between four and 15 days, cruise passengers have the opportunity to sense the history, the culture, the food, the music, the people of an impressive mix of civilizations that no other cruise region provides. The short distances and thus travelling time in between destinations is an additional plus for the region, enabling first time cruisers to pick the destinations of their dreams, and to repeaters to select from a variety of destinations. Not surprisingly this is frequently named as ‘a region made for cruising’.
What has been the greatest achievement of your career?
Working in the port industry and studying ports for more than two decades, I would highlight three best moments. The first one was the trust of UNCTAD and OECD to work for them on the financing of port developments, and on cruise shipping and cruise port respectively. The second one was my appointment by the Greek Government as General Secretary for Ports and port policy. Last, but not least, a key achievement has been the decision of MedCruise to renew my term as Secretary General of the Association for a second term.
Your memorable cruise ship experience:
The first one, being a youngster in the early 1980’s cruising the gulf of Saronicos in Greece with my parents onboard an Epirotiki Lines vessel continues to be the magical cruise moment of my life.
Your favourite book:
You learn a lot reading history, so I would mention “The Age of Extremes: The short 20th century” by my favorite historian, the late Eric Hobsbawm.
Your favourite cruise ship:
I have to admit that I was impressed when on board Oasis of the Seas. Yet each vessel I have visited has its own unique charm to be discovered – an open invitation to join a cruise.
Vicente Boluda, third generation Shipowner and President of Boluda Corporación Marítima (Boluda CM), heads one of the world’s leading and fastest growing shipping lines. They are present across the Spanish coast, Portugal, France, Italy, North & West Africa, Indian Ocean and Latin America. Vicente’s story does not only relate to shipping. His passion for football has taken him to the top of this fascinating sport. Read on…
As former president of Real Madrid Football Club, how has this experience influenced you in your professional and personal life?
The opportunity to head up such a prestigious national and international organisation is a unique experience, and an honour for those like me, who are passionate about this sport. Although my time at Real Madrid was short, it gave me the chance to introduce important changes for the Club’s history, as part of an exciting General Assembly where we would pass key proposals, such as the ability to vote by post.
(Click here to see Vicente Boluda's profile on the Real Madrid C.F. website)
Define the key to your success:
I believe the loyalty client’s have to Boluda CM is our best presentation. Success is not mine, however of all those that have made possible over the years to position Boluda CM where it is today, at the forefront of global maritime services. I always say that constancy, perseverance and hard work will facilitate the journey in achieving your goals. But also, humbleness. In business one has to be humble, talk to people on equal terms, and always be willing to learn. I believe that the decision to diversify the activities of our corporation at a precise moment in time was crucial, as it was also to bet for our group’s internationalisation. In summary, humbleness and hard work.
What makes Boluda CM different from the competition?
We provide an all-round maritime transport service; freight the goods from the manufacturer’s door to the retailer’s shelf. Our clients enjoy piece of mind. In addition to our current geographical diversification, we have also introduced sector diversification, therefore covering the full spectrum of the supply chain.
Boluda CM offers a full range of services, tell us about those with more demand and their locations:
We offer services across five continents. At this side of the Atlantic, our focus is on North and West Africa. Trade to Africa has increased over recent years, which as prompted us to invest heavily in this region. On the other hand, our towage services are indispensable at our ports, where Boluda CM is the industry’s benchmark.
Boluda CM has a significant present in the bay and Strait of Gibraltar, what would you highlight about this service?
Last year was a milestone in the evolution of the operations performed by our tugs at the bay. Algeciras and its surroundings is for us one of the enclaves with more units, sixteen harbour tugs with great power. Furthermore, we also provide port fuel supply with four barges that make the presence of Boluda in bunkering, the most important at a national level.
In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges you face in the maritime sector?
At this moment in time, one of the main challenges for ports is the transformation they need to undertake to adapt to new megaships, and manage the number of containers they carry. This transformation will affect both docks and canals, but also loading / unloading and the capacity for logistics and storage. We cannot forget the introduction of new eco-fuels, the so-called ‘maritime fuel of the future’, gas. This will lead to changes in the treatment and waste management.
Do you foresee exploring new markets over the next five years?
At Boluda CM our spirit has always been to grow in order to provide better services to our customers so yes, we pose to expand our presence in other locations in which we do not operate yet.
Your favourite ship:
I don’t have a favourite ship, they are like my children.
(Click here to see the Boluda CM fleet)
Hartmut Goeritz, CEO & Terminal Manager at APM Terminals in Tangier (Morocco), heads up one of the most dynamic and fast-growing ports in the world. His years of experience in the shipping industry and his knowledge are true personal values that influence his challenging and exciting role.
How competitive is Tanger Med compared to the ports of Algeciras, Cadiz or Valencia?
Capitalizing on the proximity of APM Terminals Tangier to Algeciras, a partnership with both terminals (Tangier and Algeciras) and Maersk line was established in 2013. This project aims to align the priorities of the three entities in order to increase operational stability and improve operational efficiency. Thus, involving the teams into one "hub partnership" philosophy improves the handling of exceptional situations by anticipating volume variation and collaborating between terminals and shipping line. Time and cost reduction led by this partnership provided better return for all stakeholders, and of course the final customer. In 2014, the partnership contributed to increase by 19% the weekly volume in APM Terminals Tangier, comparing to 2013.
What are the key values of your organization?
APM Terminals Tangier is keen to ensure a safe operational excellence. Our continuous improvement policy supports us to deliver. Since the beginning, APM Terminals Tangier implemented a process of compliance with best international standards, in order to become a world class facility. In 2012, we succeeded in obtaining three ISO certifications delivered by Bureau Veritas; ISO 9001 for quality, ISO14001 for environment and, OHSAS 18001 for health and safety. In 2013 we obtained ISO 28000 for security management systems for the supply chain, and more recently ISO 27001 for the information security. We are the first Moroccan company to obtain such certifications. PEX, or Process Excellence, is a culture within our organization, thus, our employees are continuously running projects that have a significant effect on cost reduction, and performance improvement, decreasing environmental impact…
How sustainable is Tanger Med's growth over the medium and long term?
The strategic position of Tanger Med port enables a fast connectivity to Africa, North Europe, Middle East, Far East and the Americas. The port is meant to be a strong tool for importations/exportations, and to receive the biggest vessels in the world. The port is strongly contributing in the development of all the northern area of Morocco. The two facilities in Tanger Med have already reached their nominal capacity, and thanks to our ongoing efforts and Pex Projects we aim to increase the capacity and drain continuously more volume.
Where do you foresee the main challenges for APM Terminals over the next 12 months?
For APM Terminals Tangier, safety is a priority and an everyday challenge. We need our people, but also our stakeholders to stay safe and be able to return home with no injury. We also work hard to maintain the sustainable level of productivity, and predict the volumes.
What is the main advantage of being based in North Africa?
Tanger Med is strategically located within the Straits of Gibraltar, at the cross roads of major trades lanes, East – West & North – South, with no deviation. This position allows us to provide customers with World Class services i.e. seamless link of networks & cargoes with high productivity. In addition to this, being located in the north of Africa allows us to benefit from Morocco's attractive features: stable macroeconomic and political situation, a valued destination for investors because of the incentives system and security of investments. The workforce is very competitive and skilled as well. We believe we can be part of Morocco’s development and sustain global development ambitions.
How do you start your ordinary day?
I usually start my day preparing the baby bottle for my little daughter. It is important also to create a distance between home and work i. e. drive a long way towards the terminal as done in Tangier or now cycle (weather permitting) to our offices. This ‘distance’ between home and work allows me to balance work and family life and, in the morning, to build up the professional topics and plans for the day, whilst in the evening I can digest things and arrive ‘work stress’-free for the family life!
What has been the most exciting period of your career?
The most exciting is my career path itself, which brought me in 32 years to live in 18 countries, discovering a multitude of different cultural environments and allowing me to grow individually and, as business leader, to collect my learnings with the appointment as senior leader to our company head-offices.
Your favourite book…
It is not a ‘one size fit’ all answer. Big and long books are not for me. I prefer short-tracked stories and have a passion for Africa, having lived there for about 23 years. African fairytales are a great inspiration….
Your favourite ship...
Professionally spoken it is the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, both from the name/history and industry development angle and what it stands for within the Mærsk Group, but as well from having had the opportunity to visit her in our terminal in Tanger Med. Incredible impressions of dimensions and leaving the open question - how can these mega vessels still float at all?
On a personal and more nostalgic level, it is the Port of Hamburg ferry boats crossing river Elbe from Landungsbrücken. You get such a nice view on the city, such an intimate proximity to operating port terminals and so close to big ocean vessels, that it is a lifetime experience!
Jason Wilkes, entrepreneur and 10-time Ironman competitor, visits Gibraltar regularly with his family onboard M/Y Ikandi, a 21-metre Sunseeker Predator 62. Jason says “Ikandi” is home from home, specially considering how well equipped his yacht is, including 5 TV's, 2 ensuite bathrooms with 5 berths, galley, washer downstairs, ample lounge area upstairs fitted with a large TV and Bose surround system. Outside does not cease to impress with sunbathing areas, BBQ, garage and a jet boat for sea toys.
What do you like about Gibraltar?
We love the friendly local people, and The Rock itself. Walking up and down Main Street looking at the English shops (we live in the Canary Islands so it is just like UK for us). Cinema, bowling, ice skating; our kids love all that.
What are the benefits of calling at Gibraltar?
Competitive fuel prices. Fuel is one of the most important costs when owning a yacht, and any savings in this department is always a bonus. Tax-free shopping is also a benefit.
How competitive is Gibraltar when compared to other ports?
Marina Bay is cheaper than other nearby ports in Spain, we have known the staff there for years now. Recommended.
What do you enjoy most about being at sea?
Being at sea provides freedom and also quality family time.
What has been your most challenging moment onboard M/Y Ikandi?
With the family we left a Spanish port heading for Gibraltar in a totally flat sea. We did not tie the tender on, or lock the anchor. During our passage via the Strait of Gibraltar, the sea got rougher and rougher causing the anchor to break free, striking the hull. I put the throttle into neutral so the chain would not tangle into the props but while I winched the anchor back up, the yacht was pushed beam on. Everything went everywhere inside, the tender was half on. My wife and kids were terrified — schoolboy error.
Are the high maintenance costs a myth or is a yacht expensive to keep?
Certainly not a myth, the bigger the boat the more it costs to keep. Before you ‘invest’ make sure you find out and budget for annual running costs including insurance, berthing, servicing and general up keep. If you do not look after your pride and joy properly then it will soon deteriorate.
Your favourite book:
Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab.
Your favourite ship:
On a larger scale, Queen Mary.
Niels V. Pedersen, experienced Master Mariner and Captain of the first ever Triple E, the 400-metre Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller. This engineering marvel was named in 2013 after the late Arnold Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, founder of the A. P. Møller - Mærsk Group. Niels tells us about his exciting and diverse role.
What do you like most about your role as captain of such an iconic vessel?
I have always liked the role as a Captain. I like the responsibility, the cooperation between the team on board, and the cooperation with my company, agents, customers, and media all over the world. And of course I love to sail and explore the sea.
Tell me about the Mc-Kinney Møller team and what makes them special:
From the maiden voyage the team has been hand picked. All crew members are very dedicated, and are working hard to make everything work smoothly.
What has been your greatest achievement of your career?
My greatest achievement in my career is definitely the day I was asked if I would take command of the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller. The first Triple-E container vessel, named after the iconic A. Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller. I also like the interest shown to the vessel and my company, from all over the globe. Still after almost 2 years, me and my colleague Captain are participating in many media and customer events, live tv, documentaries, interviews, etc. I like it a lot to be a part of the game.
What has been your greatest challenge onboard the Mc-Kinney Møller?
The maiden voyage was a great challenge. Especially the first 6 months after delivery of the vessel, all crew members were busy starting up the vessel. Such a vessel is delivered "empty", meaning that the crew will have to fill up all stores rooms, offices, provision rooms, maintenance, and preparing the first audit, etc., at the same time as keeping the vessel on schedule.
How concerned are you about piracy and what more can be done to reduce this risk?
I am not very concerned about piracy, but of course it's on my mind. We have procedures when transiting the piracy areas, which I cannot go into details with.
If you were not a Master Mariner, what career would you have pursued in life?
Airline pilot, for sure. My father was a pilot, and some of my very closest friends are working in the airline industry as both captains/pilots, and mechanics. I love to hear them tell stories from their work life.
What is the first thing you do when you reach dry land?
If I have the time the first thing I always do is to go and have some local food and enjoy life in the various countries we reach. And often one of the first thing is also to buy gifts to my wife and two children.
I live in a small town in Denmark named Hundested, by the sea. When I arrive at home after months at sea, I love being with my family again, and enjoy time off for some months.
What would you say to a friend or family member if they told you they were planning on following your footsteps?
I would tell them that they were bound for a great and interesting job in a very high-tech world. That means travelling, a lot of technical insight, and working in close cooperation with a multi-national crew.
I have many favourite books, but generally I love reading biographies.
I have had many favourite ships, but at the moment my favourite is the iconic Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller. I think that most captains like the vessel they are in command of, and are very dedicated.
John Gonzalez, experienced International Shipbroker and Fellow at the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in London, has had the opportunity to travel the world thanks to his extensive career as a Shipbroker, specialising in the Sale & Purchase sector. Originally from Gibraltar, we thank John for his interview, which opens Gibraltar Shipping’s first Interview Edition.
How has the Shipbroking industry evolved since you started in 1975?
I would say the evolution has been substantial - taking into account globalisation and communication.
The large brokerage firms have now offices worldwide covering the markets 24 hours a day. A single laptop has replaced whole rows of telex machines which was the norm back in the 70’s. It’s far more competitive today than ever but simultaneously the ever existing pressure to get results has had a knock-on effect on ethics.
How competitive is Gibraltar for Shipbroking?
Shipbrokerage can be practiced from virtually anywhere as long as you have good and reliable communications, it is the broker that has to be competitive.
Where do you see the local shipping sector in the next 5 years?
In shipping its difficult to predict so far ahead - I hope that Gibraltar will retain its current position in agency, bunkering, cruise calls, etc., and should look at certain diversification within the trade in the coming years i.e. Gibraltar has over 280 registered ocean going vessels, perhaps more should be done to encourage owners and ship managers to actually base themselves also in Gibraltar, this in turn will encourage other shipping related services to establish a presence. Political changes in the world can affect Gibraltar in many ways i.e. Greece is cash strapped, the Syriza party could increase taxation within the Greek shipping industry which could lead to shipping related companies considering alternate locations from where to run their business.
What are the challenges faced by Shipbrokers in the current economy?
The challenges remain the same and so do the opportunities in both good and adverse market conditions. In 2008 capesize tonnage were being chartered out for $235,000 daily, today they are being scrapped - there is business to be concluded under all market conditions.
Where are the main European Shipbrokers located?
London, Hamburg, Genoa, Paris, Athens/Piraeus and Oslo.
If you were not a Shipbroker, what would you have been in life?
Not a clue.
What was the most exciting period of your extensive career?
Learning the profession - post fixture work with Shinwa Kaiun Kaisha London then as a Sale & Purchase broker with Anthony Veder in Rotterdam during the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Any Shipbrokers in the family?
Alas no - the boys tried it for a time but decided to pursue other endeavours, this will make retirement easier.
Your favourite book...
Have too many to mention - as a young lad Enid Blyton books kept me enthralled, Exodus - Leon Uris even the Bible.
Your favourite ship...
Olivier Six, General Manager of the Sunborn Hotel, is a professional hotelier with vast experience in the industry. Olivier heads up Gibraltar’s only five-star deluxe superyacht hotel, and tells us more about his exciting role aboard this special vessel.
What does it feel like to head up the first ever five-star luxury hotel in Gibraltar?
It is a unique opportunity to be chosen to head this fantastic new hotel. I feel very privileged but it must be said that it is a very demanding environment and a stressful product. I have always specialised in hotel openings but this one is a truly different experience and in the past 15 months, every day has been unique but also very rewarding. I love the challenge and it is very rewarding to know that I head the best hotel in Gibraltar. It is exciting to see that the quality of such hotel has been very well received and, as we are now profitable, there is only one way ahead and this is on building on the success we are enjoying.
What were the main three incentives for the Sunborn Hotel to come to Gibraltar?
I think the main incentives were the fact we identified that there was a lack of a five-star hotels with upmarket bedrooms in Gibraltar. The hotel is also to become a destination hotel with two restaurants, casino, conference and event space. It is a totally self-contained destination allowing incoming international conference to start considering Gibraltar as a meeting and incentive destination. Another aspect of this is of course the VAT situation and the short flights available to the UK. British companies can also enjoy a sunny destination within only a two and half hour flight. It is therefore a competitive option to consider Gibraltar as a destination for Blue Chip companies.
What can clients expect when arriving onboard?
Our clients can expect the most modern and comfortable bedrooms with amazing beds. The quality of food and service is second to none! The decor is very rich and includes one of the largest crystal designer chandelier in Europe. All guests will be welcome with a drink by our concierge team and they can expect the highest possible level of service. The pillows and amenities in the bedrooms are very much the subject of discussion at check out time, as they are of the highest possible taste and quality. The spa is available during long opening hours to relax or indulge in some fantastic massages and treatments. The views from the Sky Restaurant are fantastic and if you time it right, you can see the planes taking off and landing.
Other than the high quality accommodation, what other services are available?
We offer a high quality spa with sauna. The Sky Restaurant offers a contemporary offering and local dishes. The Sky Bar is available all day and delivers some of the most unusual cocktails for your delight. The Aqua Bar is open during the summer and offers a chilling pool area and sunbeds for the residents of the hotel. We open from early morning and the bar transforms itself as a late night venue. The upmarket casino is now open and if you enjoy table games or slots, you will feel at ease in this very discreet but very plush casino. We also offer a Casino Privee room for those who prefer high stakes. The Aurora Ballroom is also the ideal venue for beautiful weddings and can also be used as a conference room including the most elaborate technical audio visual equipment. Along the Aurora suite we also have the superb Atlas suites (6 in total) allowing smaller meeting or training courses to take place in a quiet and focused area. The Sunborn has 189 rooms, including 6 penthouses and 18 suites and is a regular venue for the rich and famous.
How competitive is the Sunborn?
The hotel offers a competitive offering and the rates are competitive within the market place. Of course, we are the most expensive hotel in Gibraltar, however the quality on offer is unique as this is a premium hotel. With this in mind, our rates are much lower to what you would expect in London for example and keeping in mind there is no VAT, we offer a real quality and value for money product. The idea of a five-star hotel can be deceiving and give the impression of "we can not afford it" but rest assured that our pricing structure is nowhere near a traditional five-star hotel. We are flexible, affordable and we deliver the very best of hospitality. We are also able to design packages to suit most budgets.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
My role is very varied as every day is different. As I manage the sales department amongst many things, I get the chance to travel extensively and I meet some very interesting people. I also organise some amazing and unusual events. There is never a dull day in a five-star hotel and Sunborn Gibraltar is no different! I really enjoy such a buzz but I am very lucky that my family supports me and understand my passion for hotels. I feel very privileged to work for such a fantastic hotel!
What makes your team special?
My team is unique because they have been selected by myself personally and I normally work with the same individuals wherever I go. They all know me very well and likewise I know them inside out. We spend months together and my team is very fast-paced and dynamic. They all know that I am very demanding and passionate and therefore there is no place for misunderstandings. I stand by them and they support me in what can be some very challenging decisions that I make from time to time. They are all different but passionate and focused. This is what makes a great team. Most of the management team have worked with me before and in more than one hotel.
What do your clients enjoy most of their experience?
Clients do love the plush decor and the comfort of the bedrooms and especially the beds. Our customers also enjoy the fact that under one roof, you can enjoy an infinity spa, a casino, a pool and a sunbathing terrace. The food is also part of the unique experience we deliver to our clients. We have a team of 22 chefs (two of which are Michelin-starred chefs). We deliver some incredible events — imagine holding your wedding party or even your company's event in total privacy taking over the entirety of the seventh deck with its wonderful views over Bay, Gibraltar and Spain. This is a new offering since May and we are taking large bookings for summer parties but also Christmas parties. Whilst we deliver a five-star service, we have made a conscious decision that we would deliver this quality service in a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
What exciting events can we expect in the future?
We are planning hundreds of events for the next couple of years. Some are very high profile and details can not be revealed for security reasons but we also are planning many charity events and will be holding the after-party events in September for the annual Gibraltar Music Festival. We are always surrounded by celebrities here at the hotel as we offer them a very discreet retreat. I am also bidding for some very large and high profile international events which in turn would give Gibraltar a unique exposure as a destination. As we have now settled in Gibraltar, we shall start to see some real changes in visitor numbers.
Editor, Marine Strategy
The Editor is not responsible for the opinions expressed by Interviewees.
Interviews are pre-approved by the Interviewee before public release.