This time of the year is always a good opportunity to consider lessons learned and set new year’s resolutions for a new start. Our special column Industry Voices: ‘Goodbye 2020, hello 2021’ aims to provide an overview of this challenging year and set new targets for 2021 to move forward.
In this context, we have asked Capt Yves Vandenborn, Director of Loss Prevention at The Standard Club, to make an assessment of 2020 from his perspective and share his message for the new year across the global community. Among others, he wishes that lessons learnt during this year are not quickly forgotten and that ship managers will really focus more on the wellbeing of their seafarers.
Shipping is and has always been a resilient industry and I am sure it will recover from this difficult year
SAFETY4SEA: Focusing on your area of expertise, what were the most important industry development(s) within 2020?
Capt. Yves Vandenborn: Despite the problems COVID-19 brought this year, I am glad that it also resulted in seafarer wellbeing and mental wellbeing in specific, receiving the proper attention it should have been receiving for a long time already. As a mariner myself, I really feel for the hardship seafarers are going through now, while still doing their jobs and keeping our shelves supplied.
S4S: Focusing on your area of expertise, what do you think that will be the biggest challenge(s) for the industry in 2021?
Capt. Y.V.: First of all, there is still a big backlog of seafarers to relieve. But once that is done, the challenge will be to improve the public’s perception of the maritime sector. As current issues including crew change problems, reduced manning levels, discrimination and criminalisation of seafarers have been highlighted throughout the industry, online and in the press, how can we ensure that we will still have a next generation of seafarers?
S4S: What would be the 2021 resolutions for your company/organisation?
Capt. Y.V.: Taking into account trends seen this year, we will be making a conscious effort to impress upon the industry the importance of abiding by standard operating procedures, be it COVID-19 preventative measures, enclosed space entry precautions or seafarer welfare recommendations. Through our publications, educational articles and expert advice we will aim to improve standards onboard and share best practises to care for the physical and mental wellbeing of those at sea. Only by doing so, can we make shipping a safer and better working environment for all.
S4S: What is your overall forecast for shipping industry in 2021 and what would you like to share and/or wish and/or ask other industry stakeholders?
Capt. Y.V.: Shipping is and has always been a resilient industry and I am sure it will recover from this difficult year. What I would like to wish for though is that lessons learnt during this year are really heeded and not quickly forgotten in a company’s eagerness to return to their pre-covid ‘normal’. Ship managers really need to focus more on the wellbeing of their seafarers.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.