Author: Capt Vijayaraghavan
Maritime HR or commonly known as manning/crewing is a very rewarding yet equally challenging career option for seafarers switching ashore.
We will cover few aspects of the career which could help you in assessing if you would like to be on the other side of the table. This would also help sailing seafarers to understand, what it is to be in the office in the manning department.
- What you need: There is one virtue which you would need mainly in the manning career which is “Patience”. You might manage seafarers from various parts of the country or maybe even various parts of the world and it is truly educational to understand how seafarers think and act. Dhoni could have been an excellent crewing superintendent if you can see the drift.
- Uncertainty at best: This is the best part of manning/crewing. You would be dealing with humans who are very unpredictable as highlighted in the above point, as we in office, do not completely understand the drivers for their actions and hence cannot be always very sure of the plan for them. With covid restrictions in place, it has become even more tricky to plan the seafarer and actually the seafarer joining the vessel as planned.
- Targets: You in manning will have targets of relieving all seafarers onboard as per the due date, with qualified seafarers within the company’s budget. You will always have few unplanned relief requests as icing on the cake.
- Planning relievers-If you have a decent number of ships under your wings, the planning of seafarers is like a jigsaw puzzle fitting each slot considering
- 1) availability 2) seafarer due date 3) port of crew change 4) flight availability 5) duration for the visa process 6) quarantine requirements at departure and arrival countries 7) Owner’s approval 8) company-specific courses to mention few points in planning a seafarer. All these points are usually considered almost simultaneously.
- Networking: Networking is the name of the game as in any other profession-You would get opportunities to build your network with seafarers, government bodies, and counterparts in other companies which become very beneficial in the overall scheme of your career. This network provides a good knowledge-sharing platform for your overall growth.
- Budget: As mentioned above, the budget will always be an important KPI and you will tend to feel the salaries you pay to the seafarers are less compared to all other companies for similar types of vessels or that’s how the seafarers project it to you.
- Relation with seafarers: If your relation to seafarers is transparent and truthful.90% of your issues are resolved. You can get away with providing misinformation to few seafarers for some time however you would not believe how fast the information on your behavior with seafarers’ travel. You as a seafarer also understand the importance of relationship more than a raise in salary and it’s your responsibility to give the seafarers the confidence that they can believe you blindly and you will never play them. For E.g. If you don’t have a reliever for onboard seafarers, tell them so. Having said this, this is not as easy as it sounds.
Market intelligence: This should be another of your strong forte like any other profession. Best industry practices that are working in other organizations, should always be adopted.
To summarize, Manning in the maritime industry is a career about human relations and you would be very successful if you are ready to treat other seafarers, how you would have liked to be treated when you were sailing which is easier said than done. Manning department will metamorphize with time-based on seafarer requirements and where there will always be a shortage of good human connectors!