Sailing with Russian /Ukrainian crews

I have been sailing for the past year with a German shipping company that owns a large and modern fleet of multi-purpose and heavy lift vessels … and employs Russian and Ukrainian officers and crew. It has been an eye-opener what these guys get up to and thought I would just list a few and try and gauge the response from others that may have sailed under similar circumstances and experienced same:

  1. During my four months on board only one emergency/abandon ship drill was held, and this only after the first month on board. The ‘training records’ were completed monthyl for all persons to sign as having attended the training, but NO traing ever took place.
  2. Charts and nautical publications were in an poor state. On checking the chart inventory old editions of charts were in use. What boggles my mind is how these outdated charts were still being ‘corrected’ (with notices intended for newer editions).
  3. No sense for personal safety; no protective clothing is worn in the way of overalls or safety boots.
  4. An entertainment system is set up on the bridge to watch DVDs whilst on watch (even by the Master)!
  5. Safety equipment checklist are filled in that all is in good order, meanwhile standards of maintenance are lacking
  6. A black flexible hose is used to pump oily water over the ship’s side at night, presumably also by-passing the oily water seperator.
    … and the list goes on. The intention of this posting is not in any way to ‘atttack’ Russian/Ukrainian seafarers, but the above issues are of great concern and all I would like to know is whether this is the norm amongst Eastern Europeans sailors?

Did the entertainment system have surround sound or stereo?

Wow, TV on the bridge…lucky!

That black flexible hose to drain the oily slops is a great idea

Id find a new ship… quickly. More preferably, get off this ship then blow the whistle to Flag state and class. If a fire breaks out you’ll be dead, if the port state investigates the hose you’ll be arrested, if you blow the whistle before you leave you’ll be hated. I just don’t see a good outcome to you’re circumstance that doesn’t really on sheer luck.

As far as the nationality… I’ve never worked with Ukrainians but these type of problems usually extend from the Capt on up to shore based management. Unless they are all from the Ukrain I’d be hesitant to blame one country alone. But again, I don’t have experiance working with them.

Ukrainian and Russian seafarer had been good. It is only the German shipowner is specific, hungry for cheap crew. The limits are lowered, rapid promotions in order to fill the gaps and to avoid #1 any salary increase any shortage could cause. The price later on all to pay. Like once those Kiribati, once the quality too low, all German shipowners pulled out of the market at once. Took some years a few returned attracted by the low price. Same may happen in Russia and Ukraine one day. Flights from Frankfurt to China meanwhile heavyly filled by German crew managers looking for new and cheaper sources.

The result of this barbarian ship management, the job is becoming more and more unattractive, either as the crew gets less and less in their home country for owners US dollars while food prices rapidly increasing, it is however the safety situation which does raise a lot of concern. Accidents are rapidly increasing, doubled during the last 5 years. Insurance premiums expected to rise by 30% in 2008. Less qualified and less experienced crew. They even can’t get superintendents anymore. Who actually wants to work in some Hamburg office where already 3-5 superintendents missing and paper piled up to the ceiling? Eventually they could obtain a work visa for anyone from outside the EU, they only have to pay a salary of Euro 85.000.

The quality of ships is going down. Build only to please charterers and investors, hardly any space left for the crew to work, in some engine rooms even to breath. Constant leaks as poor quality of fabrication, all accepted as high quality standard by some GL classification in China. Quality of crew going down, not enough, quick training, rapid promotions. Who wants to be caught? They always do put now the crew in prison to rot. Forget about the owner, he is not going to help you, instead will put all blame on you. Like to swim in the ocean? As a responsible senior officer should realize, money isn’t worth it anymore, work conditions do become unacceptable with all this ISM paper nightmare and ISPS while the risk is simply getting to high. Let the port state control only discover that black hose and you will regret ever having signed a contract with that (German?) owner.

TV on the bridge already pretty normal. Especially in the channel, TV from both sides. Such owners do not invest in satellite TV, not to mention with all the ISM paperwork is there actually any other time left to watch a movie :slight_smile:

Guess it is one of these German owners better not to work for … and right, Owers love putting nationalities against each other, better cheaper etc … don’t fall for that, to the end, once the vessel down all are the same, in a small little boat just fighting for survival.