Worldwide Crew Pool

SeafarersDiversity, equity, and inclusionTalentWorking conditionsMental health

This year’s essay competition asked young people from across the globe to reflect on what an inclusive transition to a sustainable maritime industry means to them. Vladimir Zorić from Montenegrin proposes the Worldwide Crew Pool (WCP) to build a collaborative way of working amongst different companies and stakeholders through a centralised system that would manage Fleet Personnel processes of all shipping companies under a single umbrella, while minimising the impact from carbon emissions. This would happen through the establishment of crewing and training centers worldwide, which would particularly benefit developing countries, while at the same time aiming to decrease the usage of air travel.

Everyone has heard of archaic sailing boats, right? Well, if you were there in 1750 and someone told you that in a couple of decades you would have a steam powered boat, it would have been shocking and impossible to believe, maybe even hard to understand. I think that the Worldwide Crew Pool (WCP) could be the next thing like that in the maritime industry.

Having been a seafarer for a decade and now being in both the Fleet Personnel Department and HSEQ Department of the reputable shipping company MOL’s Tanker Division, I came across the issues and challenges we face in terms of having properly trained and qualified crews, as well as the processes of a crew change and its environmental impact. As a seafarer I have experienced travelling for countless hours, changing numerous flights and continents in order to get on and off the ship. This was a nuisance that affected my physiological and psychological state, especially in those crucial moments when joining the vessel, where the attention is needed the most, and not to mention additional exhaustion when getting back home to my family. Also, when you think of all similar trips that are happening all the time, one can only imagine how this is leaving a trail on carbon emissions. As part of my current job, I am also getting to know the difficulties of people who are responsible for manning the vessels properly. As a result of all of this, for me, an inclusive transition to a sustainable maritime industry means we all need to contribute to the resolution of existing problems that should lead to the betterment of coming generations.

We are witnessing the merging of many major companies nowadays, which is an interesting turn of events and means a positive and pragmatic change. With a trend like this, one can see that the future might bring a new way of thinking where everything should be focused on collective gain and progress. I propose the Worldwide Crew Pool (WCP) to take this to the next level by improving such collaborative ways of working amongst companies and stakeholders. WCP would be a centralised system that would manage Fleet Personnel processes of all shipping companies under a single umbrella. WCP would be based on the ENOCS values:

  • Equality – ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to access the job market within the pool;

  • Networking – promoting full collaboration and open communication on a global scale;

  • Objectivity – unification of the market based on independence and transparency;

  • Carbon reduction – minimising carbon emissions from air travelling;

  • Standardisation – providing standards for fleets respectively.

Worldwide crew pool figure

The fact that the maritime industry will be missing human resources in the near future needs to be observed from another perspective, as the world is not lacking people in numbers, but people with skills and opportunities for work. One of the main WCP strengths would be establishing crewing and training centers worldwide, in the first instance based in the busiest ports on every continent, then widening the network strategically and locally. In order for this to work, a unified budget formed by all parties would be needed. In our training centers, people would be provided with a unitary standard of qualification and training, all in accordance with the IMO and ship type specific requirements. A well-defined and maintained proficiency will help ensure there are no differences between dissimilar nations. By doing this, we could intertwine human potential, especially of developing countries and particularly the Global South, with the new style of crew change where the vessels would get local crew based on the vessel trading area. For example, if the vessel is trading between Europe and Africa, she would have crew exchanged through the training centers in Gibraltar / Rotterdam / Spezia and in Mombasa / Cape Town / Accra. Air travel would be lowered to a minimum level by such planning.

Everyone is lately preoccupied with solving zero-carbon emissions through the use of carbon neutral and green fuels, which is of the greatest importance. However, we need to take care of another very important practical aspect, which is the real need for air travel that adds up to 2.4% of global CO2 emissions while the whole shipping industry is responsible for 3.0% of CO2 emissions globally. The WCP system itself focuses on cutting air emissions to a bare minimum and to the cases of necessity, while promoting land transport at its utmost, particularly rail, considering the fact that we should be using more eco-friendly ways of travelling.

I believe WCP has the potential to contribute to the transition towards a zero-emission maritime industry that would be inclusive and ensure no one is left behind. The above presented, in my opinion, is going to happen sooner or later. It is up to us to decide when we will start the process, and given the current situation world is faced with, it should be better sooner rather than later as it seems we are short of time for action. I am not saying we need to dream big. I am saying to set the goal so high that it will only seem impossible until it is done. A goal so bright that can be seen from every direction and by everyone involved.