The 5th SAFETY4SEA Limassol Forum was a full day event that took place on Wednesday 31st of January 2024 at the Columbia Venue Centre of Columbia Plaza, Limassol, Cyprus, emphasizing on developing management strategies and appropriate skillsets to prepare maritime professionals for the shifting landscape that lays ahead.
he event was organized by SAFETY4SEA having MINTRA and SQE MARINE as lead sponsors. More sponsors of the event included the following organizations: Arcadia Shipmanagement Co. LTD, Capital-Executive Ship Management Corp., Capital Gas Ship Management Corp., Capital Shipmanagement, Columbia Ship Management, DNV, Dromon Bureau of Shipping, Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Limited (EASTMED), EURONAV, Latsco Marine Management Inc., OneCare Solutions, Polstream Shipping Company Limited, RISK4SEA, SEAFiT, and UK P&I Club.
Supporters of the event included: Clean Shipping Alliance (CSA), Cyprus Marine Club, The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICSC) Cyprus Branch, CYMEPA, Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC), The Nautical Institute Cyprus Branch, YoungShip Cyprus, Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute (CMMI), Cyprus Union of Shipowners (CUS), WISTA Cyprus.
Main issues discussed
- Best practices for investing in and developing the human factor
- Challenges and success stories in PSC compliance
- Implications and compliance requirements for ship owners and operators
- Applications of AI for enhancing safety and efficiency in shipping
- Seafarers’ Health: Understanding the challenges, health programs and services for seafarers
- Strategies for building crew welfare & resilience
- Fostering safety culture at sea
- Psychological safety and the link with operational performance
- HR retention and performance strategies
- Soft skills and future workforce
- Maritime decarbonization: Current challenges & opportunities
- Carbon-neutral fuels: Feasibility, challenges and consideration for widespread use
Opening the event, Apo Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA, welcomed the delegates and speakers and thanked all sponsors and supporters of the event. With a focus on connectivity onboard, a crucial concern for seafarers, Belokas announced that SAFETY4SEA has initiated a petition, urging industry stakeholders to champion the cause of free maritime internet connectivity, ultimately enhancing the well-being of seafarers. Encouraging active participation, Belokas called for signatures, sharing, and engagement in the campaign, emphasizing the potential to make a meaningful impact and facilitate seamless communication between individuals at sea and their loved ones onshore.
Dr. Stelios D. Himonas, Permanent Secretary, Shipping Deputy Ministry, directed the audience’s attention to the evolving maritime landscape and underscored Cyprus’ pivotal role as a global maritime hub. Dr. Himonas delved into the realm of regulatory changes, highlighting the dynamic shifts within the maritime industry. He emphasized the need for the industry’s response to pressing needs such as decarbonization, digitalization, and safety optimization, recognizing the imperative for adaptation in the face of evolving regulations.
Session #1 Navigating the waves: Safety insights in maritime
Apo Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA, gave a presentation into the evolving landscape of the shipping industry, emphasizing the imperative of addressing decarbonization and digitalization as new industry realities. A significant portion of his discussion centred on the human factor, shedding light on the novel skills and challenges confronting seafarers. Moreover, Apo Belokas advocated for a proactive approach, suggesting that the industry should draw lessons from past mistakes and strive to integrate improved training solutions. This, he argued, is crucial for staying abreast of ongoing changes and ensuring the industry’s readiness to navigate the challenges posed by the dynamic maritime environment.
Ioannis Liakakos, General Manager, Dromon Bureau of Shipping, delved into the recent regulatory updates affecting the maritime industry. Specifically, he highlighted amendments made by the International Maritime Organization to key Conventions, including the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The speaker explained why these changes, entered into effect this year or in late 2023, are poised to bring significant transformations to the maritime landscape.
Nicholas Rich, Director Fleet Management, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Cyprus) Ltd, gave a presentation on artificial intelligence (AI) and its novel implications for the maritime industry. He also touched upon the challenge of big data, presenting the various risks and opportunities for company operations. Furthermore, the speaker supported the idea that high-quality data could aid in the effort to enhance the effectiveness of AI applications across an organization’s systems, fostering a unified and comprehensive approach.
Dimitris Psarros, Business Development Manager, RISK4SEA, delivered a Focus Presentation addressing the subject of Port State Control (PSC) realities and tips for improvement. According to the presenter, developing a PSC Strategy is paramount for effective shipping, as it can prevent detentions and eliminate substandard operations. Furthermore, the presentation highlighted that knowing the local PSC focus each time is one of the key aspects of developing a PSC Strategy, as it can be of vast importance in helping to target specific deficiencies.
Capt. Konstantinos G. Karavasilis, Regional Director, Loss Prevention, UK P&I Club, gave a presentation that addressed crucial aspects related to developing an effective safety culture in the maritime industry. Emphasizing the key factors for creating an attractive and inclusive shipping environment, the presentation delved into strategies and considerations essential for building a workplace that not only promotes physical but also psychological safety. That way an organisation can ensure the mental and emotional well-being of individuals and foster a safe environment onboard.
Marinos Kokkinis, Managing Director, OneCare Solutions, presented strategies for building crew welfare and enhancing resilience. He underscored the importance of a more targeted approach, suggesting that tailored training and tailored health programs can better address all challenges seafarers face. Furthermore, he pointed out the importance of resilience training for seafarers to cope with stress and adapt to challenging situations. Finally, Marinos Kokkinis also supported the idea that Pre-Employment Medical Examinations Management is also important to prevent emergencies onboard.
Capt. VS Parani, Vice President – Marine, Tufton Asset Management, underscored the significance of ensuring ship safety, reliability, and resilience. His presentation centred around the implementation of a holistic crew welfare program, emphasizing a comprehensive approach that goes beyond addressing basic necessities. The presentation also highlighted the pivotal role of crew engagement as a key metric for evaluating the success of welfare initiatives. Additionally, Capt. Parani stressed the importance of proper communication and leadership, citing their significant contribution to fostering trust and mutual respect.
Session #3 People, Process, Performance: HR strategies for shipping
Capt. Faouzi Fradi, Director Crewing and Training, Columbia Shipmanagement, underscored the critical importance of comprehending human factors and including soft skills training in the maritime sector. He highlighted the significance of soft skills such as interpersonal communication, leadership, and stress management, in the high-pressure scenarios frequently encountered by seafarers. According to Capt. Fradi, cultivating effective communication can significantly enhance the ability to navigate challenges. This approach, he emphasized, not only contributes to the safety and well-being of maritime professionals but also enhances overall operational efficiency in the maritime environment.
Dr. Anastasios Hovardas, Senior Associate Scientist, Cyprus Marine & Maritime Institute – CMMI, addressed the fact that Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs face challenges in focusing on soft skills alongside hard skills. According to the presenter, potential solutions involve stakeholder co-creation of programs, a shift toward self-regulated learning, and an emphasis on entrepreneurial skills and strategic thinking. Additionally, the speaker pointed out the difficulty in capturing, operationalizing, and measuring soft skills poses a challenge. Solutions to this challenge can include applying acquired soft skills in new evaluation contexts and evaluating teamwork in open-ended learning settings.
Capt. Rohit Tandon, General Manager, FML Ship Management Ltd, Cyprus, focused on the subject of crew retention strategies for the maritime industry. He presented the key challenges that have led to the industry’s low retention numbers and suggested that measures such as competitive salary packages, skill development and training, a focus on safety and wellbeing, and employee assistance programs could help tackle the issue. Furthermore, the speaker advocated for a focus on mental and physical wellness which will both provide a better environment for the existing workforce and make the maritime industry appealing to more people.
George A. Tsavrilis, President of CYMEPA, delivered a keynote speech on the environmental challenges facing the maritime industry. He highlighted that shipping could not remain unaffected by the ongoing global discussions and increased awareness of the adverse effects of climate change. He also emphasized the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) efforts to reduce the industry’s emissions in recent years, shaping the landscape and highlighted the ambitions set in the revised IMO GHG Strategy that have introduced new challenges for the industry in managing a lower-emissions pathway.
Session #4 Greening the seas: Decarbonizing the maritime industry
Marc Caramondanis, Technical Operator, CYMEPA, gave a presentation on the METAVASEA “Humans at the heart of Maritime Decarbonization” project which aims to map existing infrastructure and new skills required in Greece, Cyprus & the East Med, and to develop flexible training and retraining tools to empower seafarers, dock workers and maritime executives. The project is coordinated by HELMEPA and supported by the LR-Foundation. Furthermore, CYMEPA & CMMI are the Cyprus based main partners.
Andreas Chrysostomou, Executive Director, Clean Shipping Alliance, underscored the importance of Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS). The presenter explained why EGCS currently stands as the most widely available and effective transitional solution for sulphur and carbon abatement. Given the current absence of viable alternative fuels, Andreas Chrysostomou underscored the practicality of EGCS in the prevailing shipping landscape. He also expressed the idea that EGCS will serve as a vital bridge until the industry successfully attains the ultimate goal of zero carbon shipping.
Dr. Chara Georgopoulou, Senior Research Engineer II and Head of Maritime DNV R&D and Advisory, Greece, focused on the changes and challenges that increasing decarbonization and its relevant regulation have posed on the maritime industry. According to Chara Georgopoulou, understand the challenges and aligning an organization’s strategy with ESG targets, will aid greatly in developing a meaningful decarbonization plan in order to keep up with changes. Additionally, she highlighted the importance of collaboration among shipping organizations in this decarbonization journey.
Session #5 Crew competence: Key training and development practices
Valentinos Steliou, Innovation Director, MINTRA, explored the future learning needs of seafarers, emphasizing the pivotal role of data in readying global crews for the dynamically evolving competency landscape. His focus lied in ensuring the availability of tools for upskilling and reskilling the next generation of seafarers through innovative learning solutions. He also highlighted the importance of utilizing timely and relevant data to proactively drive growth in the maritime industry.
Stavros Fokas Kavalierakis, Chairman, ICS Cyprus Branch, discussed the crucial role of soft skills in shaping the future workforce and highlighted the importance of integrating upskilling and re-skilling initiatives into training programs. Emphasis was also placed on the need for individuals to develop their potential in the professional landscape. Additionally, the speaker underscored that a comprehensive understanding of the human factor can significantly contribute to accident prevention, as a considerable number of incidents stem from human error.
Barbara Loyal, WISTA Cyprus member & Joint CEO of ESM Esmeralda Shipmanagement, gave a presentation which included the key challenges the maritime industry is facing today regarding the digitalization of flag state seafarer certificates, including issues with standardization, cybersecurity, infrastructure, and connectivity, as well as training and familiarization. According to the presenter, the most pivotal factor in this transformative process is the provision, assurance, and enhancement of high data cybersecurity measures by the relevant stakeholders. This cybersecurity emphasis is paramount to safeguarding the integrity and security of maritime operations.