Spring 2014

A sense of Superiority

While the James Fisher Everard (JFE) tanker ‘Superiority’ was in dry dock, Pelican caught up with the captain and crew to find out about life on board.

The JFE tanker, built in 2007, was undergoing a rapid refit to enable it to carry additional petrochemical cargoes. The vessel has an international crew of eight, represented by five different nationalities: Filipino, Polish, Romanian, Canadian and British.

Neil Burns, Shipping Services fleet director, described Superiority’s crew as being like a family.

Neil explains:

“Psychologically it can be hard for some crew members to be away from friends and family for long periods, so not only is the captain responsible for managing the ship, he is responsible for looking out for everyone, their physical and mental well-being."

The man with this big responsibility for Superiority’s crew is the ship’s Master, Canadian Alexandru Almasan. It can, he admits, be tough at the top:

“You may be in heavy seas, in a critical situation and then you have to make a rapid decision. Do you keep going or turn back and if you turn back, is it safe? Or if there was an emergency on board, you need to make a decision right away. You have to be in control all the time.”

Alexandru has seen some changes over the last twenty years. Advances in technology, making ships more manoeuvrable, have made his job easier, but the increase in paperwork hasn’t.

Alexandru adds:

“The crew need to view you as both an authority figure and someone they can trust. It’s not just job – it’s a way of life. We live with each other 24 hours a day. Sometimes we can be out at sea for seven days at a time.”

Of his career choice; Alexandru says that:

 “The sense of adventure always appealed to me. It is interesting with all the nationalities and cultures on board. You meet people who you wouldn’t usually get to meet. It’s a great perk – you learn a lot about people, where they come from, and their motivations.”

An occasional cause of international friction is food:

“We all have very different tastes. Filipinos love their fish, and I hate it!”

This point is confirmed by Filipino Cook/ AB Lamberto Villanueva, who added that one of his own biggest motivators was the ability to provide his family with some stability and income.

Lamberto concluded:

“It is a tough job being away from them for so long, but providing my family with security makes it all worthwhile."

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