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HANSA 06-2018

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Schifffahrt | Shipping

Schifffahrt | Shipping »Whatever you say, master, I’ll do it, but …« Regulation, lack of inclusion, compliance, missing trust: ship managers still face several challenges. However, confidence remains about the future. Nonetheless, talking to HANSA, Intermanagers Secretary General Kuba Szymanski finds strong words What is your view on IMO’s recent decision on emission reduction goals? Kuba Szymanski: We are shipmanagers and we manage anything and everything you want us to manage. However, we wish to be listened to as well, because at the end of the day, it is shipmanagers who are managing ships. So we do know what issues and challenges the industry is facing. If we are not listened to, then we may end up having regulations which are very difficult to be met in real life. When it comes to green house gases, our question is, how are we going to measure it, who is going to measure it, what are the standards? At the moment, there is a lot of anecdotal data and little true date. Did you get some answers to these questions already? Szymanski: No, not at all. At the moment, it is all at the very high political level. We need to make sure now, that there are working committees who represent everybody. We try to make sure, that we are not forgotten. Because there is a tendency, that shipowners are deciding on things and then, if they are not talking to those who are actually implementing those brilliant ideas, we find ourselves in a bit of a pickle later. What are the topics ship managers are dealing mostly with? Szymanski: Compliance, everybody will tell you that. We would love to be leaders. But lets face it, the reality is that we are employed. The difference is that leaders are leading the world towards new things and managers are managing whatever the leaders have come up with. We are supposed to comply with all the requirements. We also try to be competitive. Owners are very focussed on buying new ships and keep telling managers: Don’t ask for pay rise, we have no money because of the crisis. And then they buy a ship. And they give it to us, which is fine. Then they say, freight rates are terrible, although the economy and the transport volumes Intermanagers Secretary General Kuba Szymanski grow. So my message to Mr. Owner is: Invest responsibly. As a result of this, we as managers are being kept all the time under enormous pressure. Some argue, not the strongest will survive but those being able to adapt best. What is your opinion? Szymanski: In this respect, I am definitely Darwinist. I believe the most adaptable ones will win. But having said that I am proven wrong all the time, because the biggest ship managers are growing further. I think there will be two streams. There will definitely be the need for the big corporations as everywhere. Then you will have the smaller ones, who will be faster and better to adapt. So, you expect more consolidation in the shipmanagement segment? Szymanski: That’s what I see. What has Photos: Intermanager 20 HANSA International Maritime Journal – 155. Jahrgang – 2018 – Nr. 6

Schifffahrt | Shipping been happening in the last ten to 15 years I am projecting forward. And I don’t see any reason that this shouldn’t happen. Life proves that this is the way to go. Do I like it? No, I don’t. What share of the fleet is managed by third party managers today? Szymanski: Some people say 34%, some say 40%. Ship managers are usually big. It only makes sense to have at least 15 ships with todays ratio. If you got less, then you are really struggling and I am not sure quality can be delivered. There is not that many of us, we are counting around 500 versus around 10,000 shipowners. Did this share grow or will it grow? Szymanski: Yes, I think so. In the last eight years, have you heard of a lot of shipmanagement companies going bankrupt vs. shipowners going bankrupt? What was happening especially in the difficult times, was that shipowners who otherwise were managing their own ships, realise that it was easier and definitely financially viable to employ experts. The other thing is, we are seeing more and more shipowners who are not historic shipowners like banks and trusts. They have to employ ship managers. When we talked in 2016, you said that you miss shipowners’ trust. Has this improved since then or is lack of trust still a problem? Szymanski: Absolutely, I cannot see any changes. The problem with trust is, we are trying to develop tools and trust and we try to prove that we can be trusted. Shipping KPIs were invented, we are working on common standards. We need parameters about safety and reliability, then we are able to defend our position when there is a complaint. That needs to be clearly defined. So shipping KPIs have been invented. However, I am disappointed, because it is not compulsory to use it, but it is available. I think a lot of people, owners especially, are not keen to use them because then ship managers could say: »Look, you wanted us to do A, B, C. We have done it, please pay«. When we today say, »we have done A, B, C«, owners say, »yes, but you haven’t done D». Then we say, »tell us about D« and the answer is »that’s obvious.« When there is always competition and there is always a market for shipowners, because they are building more and more ships, then managers say, »ok, I don’t argue with you, because then you go somewhere else. Whatever you say, master, I do.« And we do. Please take a look at the crystal ball for us: How will this relationship develop? Szymanski: It would be good if we could actually get cargo owners closer to ship managers. At the moment we have two masters. Our master, the shipowner is working for his master, the cargo owner. Sometimes it would be better if we could talk to cargo owners, bypass the shipowner and then deliver. The shipowner would be happy if his bank account is growing. If he left us to talk to the cargo owners, we can find very interesting solutions. If owners just let go a bit, start to trust that people they employ are actually doing a good job and they are working towards the same goal, we could make owners happy. Sometimes we are saying to shipowners: »Let me explain what I can do for you. We can do better for you. Please let us talk to the cargo owners, then we can come up with a solution which you would benefit and we would benefit.« One of the very good initiatives by Intertanko was »Virtual Arrival«. Ships don’t have to rush to arrive in port and then drop anchor for two weeks. If we knew that a port has congestion, we talk to the cargo owner, adjust the speed and save fuel. That would make the cargo owner happy because he pays less, it would make the shipowner happy because the engines are used in a proper way and there is more time for maintenance, environment is happy because the ship polluted less. Everybody wins. But what is happening at the moment? We cannot agree, because people don’t trust each other. Blockchain might be an answer and I can see that on the horizon. When talking about blockchain, digitalization, etc., are ship managers ready for it? Szymanski: We are always ready for everything (laughing). The problems for us are very often port authorities, national regulation. There is a superb idea, which we support, called »Single Window«. European Commission made it compulsory in 2015. Now we have 2019 and nobody is ready. Because the authorities are not talking to each other, what would mean to cooperate. Instead of sending three cars to a ship they would only need to send one. That is really what holds us back. Are you optimistic for the near future? Szymanski: Of course, it will change. Why to fight with us all the time instead of helping us? This applies especially to ports. Governments are coming up with the rules and they are good at this. But when it comes to fulfilling the same rules they are the slowest ones. I am optimistic but at the same time I am frustrated that it takes so long. But we are going in the right direction, there is no doubt about it. Interview: Michael Meyer Crewing is one of the most important factors for ship managers HANSA International Maritime Journal – 155. Jahrgang – 2018 – Nr. 6 21

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