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Celebrating the Day of Seafarers: A Personal Reflection

25, Jun 2024 | Blog

Today, on the Day of Seafarers, I want to share some thoughts and experiences from my time as a Purchasing and Supply Chain Coordinator at Nordic Tankers. This role taught me so much about the importance of seamless operations, cost optimization, and, most importantly, the well-being of seafarers.

Working closely with purchasing and logistics, I learned how critical it is to maintain smooth operations for our vessels. We coordinated supplies to 12 ships, ensuring they had everything they needed—from food supplies to urgent spare parts. These efforts were crucial for the smooth sailing of our ships, which transported liquid goods across Europe and beyond, calling at ports like Rotterdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Houston, Osaka, and Seoul.

Photo of my seafarer colleagues in 2011

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job was engaging with the seafarers themselves. I participated in various seafarer conferences in places like Yurmala, Riga, and Antalya, Turkey. These events were not just about work; they were about building trust and fostering a sense of community. We played handball, participated in team games, and shared cultural experiences, which were invaluable in creating a strong, supportive network.

My interactions with seafarers from countries like Poland, the Baltic States, Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, Romania, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Indonesia enriched my understanding of the diverse backgrounds that make up the shipping industry. It highlighted the importance of extending organizational values and culture to all colleagues, regardless of their location.

Photo of my seafarer colleagues in 2011

A particularly memorable project involved coordinating a vessel’s journey from Manatos in Brazil, through the Brazilian Amazon River, up to Iquitos in Peru. Delivering spare parts to such a remote part of the world was both challenging and exciting. This experience underscored the importance of culturally sensitive communication and the need for clear, respectful exchanges, even through emails.

Our safety management system (SMS) was our guide, but beyond technical standards, treating people with dignity and respect was paramount. Fun moments, like reconnecting with former colleagues at a seafarer conference in the Netherlands, reminded me of the lasting impact of positive, inclusive interactions. One colleague’s comment that they never had such an amazing conference after I left Nordic Tankers was particularly touching.

Photo of my seafarer colleagues in 2011

On this Day of Seafarers, I want to acknowledge the immense work done by these dedicated individuals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they were recognized as essential workers, bravely facing the virus to keep global trade moving. In my previous blog on safety culture, I discussed what we can learn from seafarers, especially during such challenging times.

As we strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in all sectors, it’s crucial to include the vital voices of seafarers. They are the backbone of the shipping industry, and their experiences should inform our efforts to create a sustainable, humane, and inclusive industry. This means fostering healthy cooperation, understanding, and creating work cultures that transcend hierarchy, power distance, and gender biases.

Photo of my seafarer colleagues in 2011

My role at Nordic Tankers from 2011 to 2014, coordinating supplies and engaging with seafarers, was instrumental in shaping my understanding of DEI. It showed me the power of meaningful engagement and the importance of inclusive, respectful communication. As we celebrate the Day of Seafarers, let’s remember and honor the incredible contributions of these often-overlooked heroes of the sea.

Thank you, seafarers, for all that you do.

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