How has Operations changed w/ Covid-19?

Still out at sea? Working shoreside?
Engineer? Captain? Mate? Cook? Tankerman? A/B? In the Management Office?

I’m looking for information about how Fleet Management and Vessel Operations has changed because of Covid.

Has your company started using a new program or technology to help keep operations going? Is there talk about installing/implementing something new?

These could be things like:

-mobile apps for stores/inventory request orders
-procurement
-bunkering
-crewing
----travel arrangements
----digital based training
----e-learning
----VR virtual reality use in training
-Remote surveying
----class inspections
----COI
----audits
----etc.
-Shoreside connectivity
----health check-ins
----access to remote medical professionals
----mental health services
----Connectivity to Family and Friends

These are strange times - is this pandemic accelerating the use of new tech?

Keep at it boys (and ladies). I know it ain’t easy out there on a normal day.

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More paperwork…

Sounds like crap Finn… (thats my surname kin)

But - what kind of paperwork? On what? What are you filling it out on? The same old ships computer email? Filing cabinet?

Contractors are now wanting self declaration of no COVID-19 symptoms on board within the last 14 days. Also additional risk assessments regarding working with contractors and surveyors as well as provisional of additional PPE which in turn includes ‘how to’ procedures.

There is also additional pressure being applied by unions claiming that ‘their members are at risk’.

All this when working from home and under lock down!

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Sounds typical. Paperwork solving all the worlds problems.

What position do you work?

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Technical superintendent -Towage

Operational Changes due to Covid-19 such as; Pre-Covid 19 ; Worked 90 day rotations. Now working 45 day rotations. All the company’s vessels were sailing now only 60% of them are sailing ? Company’s used to require a mirage of pre-go to ship Mariner gotta do’s of a laundry list of items, Now that has been reduced to a quick pick of items ? Those kind of operational changes. Or are the companies attempting to run their companies same old same old with the exception of adding more to the work load of those on board ? Read that due to weak demand for products due to Covid-19, there is less demand to ship products. Due to weaker demand in shipping is there anything being done so what work is available can be equally divided among all the mariners or it is just HOG the work if you got it ?

Maybe not the type of operations you were thinking about, but a lot of things have changed because of Covid-19.
Such as SIRE inspection on tankers, which can now be carried out remotely:

First remote SIRE inspection for Flex LNG vessel:
https://www.rivieramm.com/news-content-hub/news-content-hub/first-remote-sire-inspection-for-flex-lng-vessel-60976#:~:text=The%20inspection%20was%20carried%20out,parties%20concerned%20with%20ship%20safety.

I haven’t seen or heard about OVID or CMID inspections of Offshore vessels and rigs being carried out remotely, but it MAY have happened(??)
PS> I’m no longer accredited Surveyor for either.
Don’t miss it, but if it can be done from the comfort of my office chair, don’t require long travel and climbing around on boats and rigs, maybe I should apply for renewed accreditation.

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Most notably, we have to quarantine before joining with a twice daily temperature log, and several nasal-pharyngial swabs are collected for PCR tests. Depending on where we are from, some of us have to quarantine when we return home, too. We don’t go through immigration any more, in the country where I work, so we can’t leave the airport/heliport when we crew change. At work, they have divided the pre-tour meeting into two groups so that the room isn’t crowded. Medic logs our temperatures before the meeting daily. We wear masks to the meeting. There is no buffet food anymore, and we must physically distance ourselves in the mess. We are supposed to wear masks on the bridge and in the ECR maybe some other places. We are supposed to disinfect surfaces lots of times per shift, but they also down-manned us… so suck an egg on that one. And we have to log our ‘close contacts’ while on board. Since I work with the sewage, that’s everyone. That’s not my favourite kind of close contact. But luckily for me, I guess the virus likes safety meetings, salads, and screens more than shit?

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Similar, here. Nasal swab/quarantine prior to join, then they create a bubble. Masks in common areas, limited numbers in the lounge and mess, gym and laundry. Not well enforced by the way but what can you do. I also handle sewage, sound sewage and GW daily, I use gloves and wash up well afterwards. I am probably safer here than at home. I feel for all the long term holdovers around the world.

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Never mind the human costs: its going to cause an accident. Maybe a lot of accidents. People get tired, even if their mental health remains intact (which doesn’t seem to be widely true). I heard of a car carrier in Port of Vancouver where 3 crew members refused to sail. One of them was the Chief Officer, another was the cook. Their flag state gave them dispensation to sail without those positions!

I think the fatigue and distraction has already led to accidents, like the one near Mauritius. Were they not skirting the reef in order to get a cell signal and call home? Only going to get worse. A horror show in slow motion.

ITF is taking up the problem of accidents because of fatigue, long time onboard without relief, or even shore leave:

Emrobu humor is the best humor!

LMFAO :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: !!!

From shore/agent side:
When I got out in July, everything was being completed remotely. Ships sending in scanned copies of certificates, entrance and clearance with CBP was remote. If you had a good relationship and reputation with CBP, they would allow you to send E/C payments once every week. Otherwise you had to drive down and drop the payment in a drop box. If anything good came from covid was that it accelerated CBP’s digitization program.

Ships didn’t want us to board. They were terrified - and rightfully so - of shore personnel bringing covid on board.

Personally, for me, other than the digitization of e/c of vessels, not much changed. Over the last 3 or 4 years, I rarely attended an arrival boarding after hours. Always got the old man to send me his arrival timings. Last person that the captain wanted to see at 3am after 6 hrs transit was an overcaffeinated agent. Unless I absolutely had to be there for departure, I conducted most of my business over email and phone. No complaints from ships or customers.

Have been out a few months. I kind of miss it. I miss the urgency and adrenalin rush of a filipino captain calling with “ello sirrrrr our holds failed inspection what do we DO!!!” (call your owners, Cap. get an owners agent. you’re now off hire). or some half drunk russian officer calling to tell me his AB just lost his arm and wondering what time pilot was booked. I don’t miss the 8am sharp phone calls from some eager beaver chartering intern about an email he sent at 1am asking when I was going to respond to a **TOP URGENT **pda request for loading a cargo for biz I have no chance in hell of getting AND that I have quoted a half dozen times to the same company in the last 6 months because i know they use a competitor. Or the other agent is written into the charter party. plus i dont start to function until about my 4th cup of sludge (turkish coffee) so go pound sand, pietr…

i should do a “i spent 25 years as a ships agent/agency manager…ask me anything”

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Son was an agent for a bit. The call from a Chinese captain at an odd hour in the morning was classic. He had lost a man overboard storing the gangway/jacobs ladder which my son said was not that safe to begin with. They never found him with an outgoing current in the middle of winter. Glad he left that job.

During my days as a Class surveyor, I was dealing with agents on a nearly daily basis. Like anything else, there are good and bad. Unfortunately, I found that there were far more bad then good. I can’t even recall how many times I would show up at an empty berth because I wasn’t updated. . .or when I was asked to renew/extend statutory certificates issued by a different Class society. . . .

There’s a few parts to the good/bad agent problem.

One is, like everyone else, agents are overworked, underpaid, and understaffed. Your typical agency fee is less than what the pilots make for bringing the vessel in and out. They only have to deal with the ship for a few hours. Agents have to deal with the ship for weeks, sometimes months. Owners fees? Completely garbage and not worth pittance owners want to pay. The number of times I’ve heard “Please mister agents, please assist as a courtesy to the owners - we use your company worldwide!” is in the thousands.

Courtesy doesn’t pay the light bill.

The second part is more complicated. When an agent is working for the charterer, they are under no obligation to the owners. The owners just start blasting out that “XYZ is the agent for the vessel. Contact them” and expect the agent to handle owners matters basically for free. You could argue that “it’s just adding one more email to the distro list, what’s the big deal?”. The big deal is that information is what an agent deals in most, and that information has value. It generally comes down to who - as an agent - you’re working for. THEN, it comes down to WHICH owners the agent is working for and who you working for - is the appointment from the technical managers? The crew managers? Head owners? Disponent owners? Time chartered owners? It gets real murky real fast.

Third, if the agent is not appointed and funded by the owners, then the agent is not compensated for the liability of assisted by the owners. And liability is in the information. And being a class surveyor, you are appointed and paid by the owners that are not necessarily the same as who the agent is working for (if they are indeed working for an “owner”). And if there’s a problem, there’s likely a problem or dispute between the charterers and owners who are often at odds with one another.

Fourth, and not an excuse, but an agent is tasked with communicating with dozens parties and segmenting that information as needed. On a typical coal load wherein I would be working for the charterers only, I would have read or composed 250 plus emails and fielded an unknown number of calls and (increasingly) texts. So there’s a component of task saturation. Grain? Double that. When you have 2 or 3 ships in port at any given moment and 10-15 more on the way, the information throughput is insane.

What ultimately pushed me out was the fact that I could clear out my emails at 1800, and have 250 new emails when I woke up at 0600. There was no such thing as a day off. If I didn’t monitor over the weekend? I’d have 800-1000 emails by the time I got in the office at 8am. You can’t blast out one email to everyone. You have to segregate by what they need to know. So if I am working for the charterers, shippers, and owners, then including pilots/tugs/lines/port authority updates, that’s four sets of emails that have to be composed and sent.

And that’s all being done by an agent that might be making 50K a year and working 60-80 hrs that week. Edit to add: The agency market has been destroyed by the GACs and Norton Lillys of the world that offer horrendously low rates just to get the business. It was a race to the bottom the last 15 years. And when you charge bottom of the barrel rates, you don’t have the revenue to compensate your agents or be staffed accordingly.

More than what you wanted to read, I’m sure. But most people in the industry have zero idea what the average day for an agent/agency is like.

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In my experience most agents were OK, with a few exceptions. First to see me come and last to see me off. They handled legalities I could not begin to understand in places where I had not a clue. Kept me out of trouble for the most part and a couple became very good friends. Not sure if I would be able to do the job they do for the money they make and not become an extortionist :grin:

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Who you’re actually dealing with has a massive impact on how well you think they’re doing.

In the larger ports, when you come alongside, you’re basically working with a runner that has a bare minimum understanding of what’s going on. Houston and New Orleans are prime places where the actual agent never steps on board and everything is communicated remotely by phone and email. Not a fan of this system, but I understand why they use it.

Agents that are great at their job get promoted rather quickly to port managers, or get recruited by port authorities and terminals, or go to work for a broker. A well trained, smart, and determined agent can literally do anything. You’re a jack of all trades. I used to go to basically being a project manager of an OSV mobilization to acting as charterer of a coal or crude oil tanker to being the port captain for a project cargo loadout on the same day. Sometimes before lunch. Then add in proformas, accounting duties, laytime calculations, timesheet approvals and personnel management to ordering the goddamned coffee. Mix in the inevitable “we’re 2 hours away from pilot and our S band radar just went kablooey (suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure it did) please arrange for Letter of Deviation from USCG so we don’t lose out on the grain fixture” or trying to find a missing A/B at one of the whore houses makes for an interesting profession.