30 September 2021
World Maritime Day 2021: In honour of James Fisher’s frontline workers
To offer two different perspectives on the hardships of working in the shipping industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, we spoke to fleet personnel manager, Will Kelly, and STS superintendent, Toni Vidan.
Now in its 43rd year of celebration, World Maritime Day is organised by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to bring awareness to the life of the seafarer and all those working in the shipping industry, while presenting an opportunity to let their voices be heard.
James Fisher’s seafarers and crewing members are the backbone behind keeping the Group’s shipping services running smoothly. Over the course of the last 18 months, they have overcome the difficulties associated with crew changes and more stringent health and safety measures, to ensure it could continue to operate during a period of high demand.
Today (30 September), James Fisher sets out to highlight the hard work and dedication demonstrated by its frontline workers in the shipping industry, by asking one of its STS superintendents and fleet personnel managers to share their perspectives.
Toni Vidan, STS superintendent at Fendercare Marine, says:
“As an STS superintendent, it’s a challenge to ensure the vessel operates safely, and that greatly depends on the vessel's crewing team. Our part is to ensure the entire safety process is discussed in-depth, risk assessments are completed and any inputs are included. Toolbox talks – a group discussion which takes place in order to focus on particular safety issues – form a key part of maintaining all safety processes, as well as being on deck on arrival and during every stage of the STS operation. It’s important for us to also remain well integrated with the bridge team in order to be aware of vessel conditions. Efficient communication is one of the fundamentals for maintaining safe operations.”
Will Kelly, fleet personnel manager at James Fisher Crewing Services, says:
“These past 18 months have been extremely difficult for everyone, but I do believe that crewing teams around the world have been the forgotten frontline workers.
“While the world began to close borders, it became extremely difficult to arrange travel for our crew and to ensure they were relieved as timely and as safely as possible. This, whilst complying with numerous COVID-19 restrictions and requirements, and trying to protect our crew on board from the virus proved extremely difficult. In light of this, some shipping companies had to suspend crew changes, but with hard work, a complete review of our protocols and procedures, and performing testing on all of our crew members prior to travelling, we were able to remain operational.
“When crew ran out of leave, we supported them by paying their leave in advance, and when they became sick or reported that they were required to isolate, we ensured they were supported financially without repercussions. We’ve always known that without our seafarers, our business is not a viable one. Their wellbeing had to be the core of what decisions we made and they had to be supported at all costs.”