What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry?
The demands and expectations from clients and authorities have become much higher over the years. In the beginning of my career, the main thing was to get the job done – ‘one way or the other’. There was less focus on the way it was done and less documentation and accountability.
Over the course of the years the development in the industry has been towards more procedures and control, analyses and task plans etc. It could be seen as an overregulated industry with little freedom and room for manoeuvre – however, I do not think that anyone would actually like to go back to the ‘Good Old Days’. I think it is fair to say that our operations are more controlled, better planned and a lot safer nowadays.
What was your greatest challenge?
The biggest challenges have definitely been the promotions – the first trip in a new position was very exciting and of course also a bit frightening. It is a great satisfaction and relief when you get to grips with the tasks and feel fully comfortable with the responsibility of the new role.
And your best experience?
The newbuilds I have been fortunate to be involved in have been the best experiences and the biggest challenges. It is a huge and demanding task to be on the team taking over a vessel straight from the shipyard. From the final stage of the build to the run in of the vessel – often at the same time as the vessel starts operations for a charterer. A lot of hard work but also fulfilling to experience things falling into place and that the systems are working and meeting the expectations from the clients.
Often the newbuild crew has the advantage of staying together on the vessel for an extended period of time. This creates a special dynamic and culture among the crew, knowing each other well and overcoming challenges together.
That is probably the best thing about life at sea – to feel part of a team that functions well both professionally and socially.
My preference has been for the project vessels, since we work closely with the charterer’s project teams, both in the planning and the execution phases, which also makes the vessel’s crew feel an important part of the solutions. Further to that, the project vessels often have the same clients for months or even years at a time, which means you can build up trust and personal relations with the client’s personnel. I am confident that’s good for both parties and good for business.
If I am to choose the single most exciting operation I have been involved with, I would say that the peak was the first engineered grounding operation with C/V Maersk Connector. Prior to the vessel finally touching down, we had been studying seabed topography and calculated tides, ballast and stability for months in order to time everything to the minute. Being the first of these operations for MSS, there was a lot of attention from stakeholders – which we could definitely feel.
Seeing that it went down well, so to speak, was truly gratifying.
What advice would you give to the next generation of seafarers?
That’s difficult and I would actually be very careful of giving advice at all. I think that every generation has its own priorities, values and aims in life. What has been seen as important for my generation will not necessarily be the same for the next.
And actually, I do not think that achieving a 25, 40 or 50 year anniversary with an employer would necessarily be seen as something to strive for by the younger seafarers. I think that the career pattern is much different now, but for me it has felt right.
However, if I should give my best piece of advice to the next generation anyway, I would say:
Be positive and try to have a positive influence on the people around you. Catch the chances you are given. Last but not least, make your professional life work together with your family and private life, and you will have a great job with lots of exciting work and lots of opportunities.
Finally, let me take this chance to thank all the good people I have worked with over the past 40 years.