Being close to our Principals but not far from our seafarers

Is one of the axioms that Elvictor holds in both theory and practice, one that is achieved by applying a variety of strategies and procedures.  

One such strategy involves the coordination and organization of meaningful forums on behalf of its Clients/Principals, in order to provide guidance and ensure their pool’s coherence and size, and where possible, expand it. By acting as a genuine extension of the ship management company, we provide a dedicated personal service.

To further enhance the awareness of both Principals and seafarers of each other, we encourage our Principals to hold forums that gather their seafarers, making them feel as a part of their company and an important element in their success.

Interpersonal contact fosters relations that transcend profession, bringing onshore and offshore personnel closer together, which brings, as experience has shown, an increased efficiency in work output from both parties.

An example of a success story is that of Benetech Shipping S.A., held on the 28th of March in Divan Suites hotel, Batumi, Georgia.

Open Discussion

The forum served as a platform, where apart from its informative character, seafarers could be heard and exchange views and concerns on a list of different matters, as much during the presentation as during the breaks. Areas of improvement in all aspects of Benetech’s functions were identified, ranging from the well-being of seafarers up to the enhancement of safety culture and more.

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Seafarers provided valuable Feedback

Promotion of seafarers’ suggestions for improvement, their daily concerns, their know-how and shared information about the safety, technical, environmental issues from the part of onboard seafarers was a key element of the event. This provided ideas for the continuous improvement of Benetech’s activities, enhancing the Company’s IMS and proving that Benetech is a tanker company that has a modern and adaptable mindset, subject to beneficent change that will ensure both its survival and growth in these trying times. This type of mindset becomes the most important pillar to the shared vision of running ships with Best Practice, yielding a constantly innovative and top-quality working environment that goes 100% in line with Elvictor’s philosophy.

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The sections discussed in the forum were:

  1. Career Path
  2. No Blame Culture as per TMSA3
  3. Salary and Bonus Scheme as per ITF Matters
  4. Communication
  5. Mind Matters – Supporting mental health and wellbeing at sea
  6. Training as per VIQ7
  7. Reflective Training as per VIQ7
  8. Recruitment
  9. Leadership as per TMSA3
  10. Appraisals
  11. Briefing and Debriefing procedures
  12. Appearance

It was highlighted by Mrs. Maria Papadopoulou (Crew Manager) that the primary asset of Benetech are its seafarers, either on-board or off-board. The career of a seafarer in Benetech is not solely committed to serving on-board, but also encompasses the constant provision of knowledge and ideas that would promote the company’s name and values. The vision of Benetech Shipping S.A. is safety onboard, environmental protection, team spirit, mutual respect and ceaseless learning. It welcomes new seafarers to its growing fleet, which displays a 15% KPI per annum for promotions. A cadetship program has been developed, where departmental officers train them, preparing them for their successful transition to officers. This is usually achieved after a mere three contracts. As proof to the aforementioned statement, Benetech’s endorsement of the potential of cadets and the future of the careers of its seafarers, has given the opportunity to 45 crew members to climb to a higher rank in the last 12 months! As such, it exhibits a pool with a retention of 97%!

Focusing on the no blame culture, Benetech seeks to avoid the repetition of mistakes through the assistance of experienced ex-crew. Continuous training and retraining, with Elvictor’s collaboration, has and will keep on achieving a stable enhancement of the seafarers’ skills.

Concerning the Salaries and Bonus schemes, Benetech’s representatives clarified the amendments and the structure, demonstrating to its seafarers that loyalty is and will be handsomely rewarded. Bonuses will be granted for remarkable professionalism, including inspections, performance of crew members, rejoining and seniority. Additional Principal/Owner bonuses were illustrated and other incentive schemes that Benetech wants to develop in the near future.

The communication scheme that Benetech present on-board breaks the feeling of isolation, facilitating the communication between seafarers and their families and loved ones. There is a clearly illustrated policy concerning the proper use of social media and the data protection of the company, and is in effect for the protection of the seafarers and the vessel.

The importance of the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers was also a major subject that was thoroughly discussed. As mental health has been gaining global notoriety for its radical increase in the past few decades, it is only prudent to address it where it will be most commonly found. Studies have shown a positive correlation between strenuous jobs and declining mental health. The life of a seafarer is one such job, which combined with time away from one’s home and acquaintances, has led a great many seafarers to face problems in general, be it at home or at sea. We are glad to count Benetech as an example of how a Principal should take care of their crew.

Expounding on the significance of training, mentioned previously in the “no blame culture” section, we ought to point out that Benetech provides all the necessary tools for enhancing its crew’s abilities.  This fact guarantees that all seagoing and shore-staff personnel receive adequate training, enabling them to perform their duties in a safe and environmentally conscious manner, in accordance with Company policy and statutory requirements. Several training methods are exercised such as in-house, external or onboard training seminars-lectures, audiovisual training, etc. Regarding the training of onshore, a training plan needs to be formed and followed in furtherance of the seafarers’ chance to improve their knowledge and capabilities. The value of training seafarers goes along with a strict schedule and evaluation of the seafarers following the end of their training.

Mrs. Papadopoulou stated:

“For example English teachers are here to give you the opportunity to improve your English knowledge. Seagull training program is available for you in the Georgia office and on board the vessels. Seagull training is not only to fulfill the company’s obligations but also for you to benefit from it and improve areas where you lack necessary experience. According to our policy the training requirements should be totally fulfilled and are not optional. In addition to the above, we also guarantee that we meet our IMS requirements. The transitional period for the change from VIQ 6 to VIQ 7 is already behind us and the great change that has come as a result is more than obvious. The big difference stated above can be explained with a simple example: during a vetting inspection as per VIQ6 the inspector asked “if a Risk Assessment is prepared for a specific item”. Now with the VIQ7 the inspector is interested in seeing if you are able to create a Risk assessment. It is very important to prove the competence and the knowledge to do so. By creating the proper conditions using proper training, guidance and explanation all crew members can end up with a high feeling of Safety Culture.“

Concerning reflective training, the key is to learn from experience. The main idea is the consistent facilitation of interactive group discussions, through simple and engaging materials. This method creates behavioral change and focuses on key themes for safety.

The recruitment policy of Benetech also plays a pivotal role. In order to ensure that newcomers will be able to work efficiently on board their fleet without exceptions, there are minimum recruitment requirements coded into Elvictor’s system for the screening and selection processes. Hard workers who fulfill the minimum criteria of Benetech’s promotion scheme, will have the chance of ascending to a higher rank. Seafarers are invited to obtain higher license certificates and to communicate with Benetech. Elvictor’s technological means ease this process, with special care given to scheduling. Elvictor monitors the promotion ready seafarers, and as Benetech’s IMS procedure of promotion is automated to Elvictor’s system, allows transparent and ad hoc awareness said seafarers.

Leadership was also a strong topic of discussion, mainly the need for its effective presence and the backing of that presence by an equally strong vision. This point might be considered amongst the most, if not the most, important as commandeering a huge vessel worth millions of dollars, requires both exceptional skill and the full trust of both the crew and the company. It is no small undertaking, whose characteristics need to be fostered in the following generations of Masters, most effectively via mentoring and leading by example.

Appraisals should be objective and not subjective. Interpersonal sympathy or dislike are not valid factors determining the skill or work ethic of a seafarer. Appraisals should be considered a tool for the proper selection of people to be promoted and to identify areas for improvement. Not a penalization tool, appraisals should be used for the refined development and retraining of seafarers, in addition to proper scheduling. We seek to improve upon the shortcomings of our crew, not to be rid of them.

The innovations of Elvictor concerning the briefing and debriefing have allowed the “immediate update” of Mrs. Papadopoulou and each Departmental Head in Benetech.

“The system of briefing and debriefing allows us to evaluate ourselves, improve ourselves as we possess the control mechanisms and decision making tools to assist our seafarers timely, avoid misunderstandings, ameliorate our relationship with them and keep high levels of retention”.

Another essential point that was brought up was image, which reflects the safety precautions and that the representatives of the Benetech are seafarers themselves. Hence the appearance and demeanor of the crew should be professional especially in inspections, audits and other circumstances. Respecting the PPE policy, image follows rules about safety and precaution. Risk should be avoided and proactive measures should be taken into account very seriously from all members present.

Mrs. Papadopoulou highlighted some important elements and innovations Elvictor has pioneered that cover many sections of the TMSA 3 and the new VIQ7 Requirements, which form an over and above service provided to Benetech and its seafarers.

During traveling days, health and hygiene are important elements and Benetech requires the full awareness of its seafarers. Thus, Elvictor provides specialized information and coded links on the mobile phones of each seafarer that joins Benetech’s Fleet. Prior departure the following are provided from Elvictor’s system to Benetech’s seafarers:

  1. E-ticket copy
  2. OKTB
  3. Visa if required
  4. Duties and responsibilities as per rank
  5. Health and hygiene of the intermediate airports passing during traveling
  6. IMS
  7. Company’s policy
  8. Critical and essentials tools should be onboard as per IMS.

Mr. Dimitrios Kalosakas, Elvictor’s Group Global Training Director, exchanged views on training programs and amendments that should be developed, allowing experienced top 4 officers to provide hints and suggestions.

Mr. George S. Galanakis discussed with the seafarers what suggestions they had for various topics, ranging on all the aforementioned topics, as well as additions to Elvictor’s existing systems.

Mr. Theodoros Papaioannou focused on presenting Benetech’s vision to the seafarers, assuring them that closer communication with all succeeding levels of Benetech’s organization and continuous exchange of know-how, ideas and suggestions that the front line officers are adept at providing. He also presented past cases and how these cases were resolved, highlighting the importance of direct and immediate information, in order to become risk averse and proactively cease any potential operational or technical problems.

The forum was met with success, where top officers offered to go out with Benetech representatives and Elvictor’s board members and branch directors, staying close to each other, laying the foundations for a more friendly relationship across all parties.

Constantinos S Galanakis posted in his LinkedIn account:

The days that followed many new seafarers applied to Elvictor’s Georgia Office and our own seafarers have introduced more seafarers, resulting in most of them being already lined up for new vessels assigned to our Georgia Office.

Socialising with our Valued Seafarers

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About Benetech

Benetech Shipping SA is a Commercial Ship Management company, based in Athens, Greece. Founded in 2005, Benetech presently manages Oil/Product & Chemical tankers, ranging from 13,000-75,000 DWT, with an average age of 8 years in the fleet.”

BENETECH IS COMMITTED TO

  • Providing vessels under management with a consistently high standard of operations with a dedicated focus on cost effectiveness balanced with efficiency of operations which is based on complete transparency by way of open line of communications.
  • Service the end user market with highly reliable transportation services in order to achieve the best possible utilization of each vessels earning potential.

BENETECH STRATEGY HAS

Opted for a gradual and strategic growth as against an incredible one so as to maintain better control through Risk Assessments and MOC processes developed the take-over of New Assets coming under management.

Focused on providing dedicated crew with competence to work on board our managed vessels backed by committed Shore based staff to support vessels every need.

Focused on Administrative and Systems Processes with a view towards attaining operational excellence.

The BENETECH VISION

To be the leading Company of choice for global sea transportation of oil and chemical cargoes.

More photos from Benetech Forum

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Persons to Contact

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Constantinos S. Galanakis
CEO
Elvictor Group
Maria Papadoulou
Maria Papadoulou
Crew Manager
Benetech Shipping SA
Maria Papadoulou
Theodoros Papaioannou
Technical Manager
Benetech Shipping SA
George-Galanakis
George S. Galanakis
Managing Director
Elvictor Group
Dimitrios
Capt. Dimitrios Kalosakas
Group Training Director
Elvictor Group
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