StarOcean Forum 2019 Highlights Competence Development And Crew Welfare

Continuous developments in the global shipping market compel companies to be proactive in initiating and implementing programs and activities that address the changing requirements of the industry.

For StarOcean Manning Philippines, Inc., part of their initiatives is the conduct of crew development activities for upgrading seafarer competence and providing them with the latest updates on policies, issues and other relevant crewing matters. These agenda were tackled during the Star Ocean Forum 2019 hosted by the company last November 21 at the New World Manila Bay Hotel. 

The daylong event was participated by more than a hundred deck and engine officers, with executives from Star Bulk SA serving as resource persons and facilitators. Among them were Angie Hartmann, Executive Vice President – Crew Affairs; Alex Tsitsonis, Crew Director; Fotis Belexis, Deputy Technical Director; Stratos Pentafronimos, IT Director and Sofia Barba, QMS/EMR .

As host of the forum, StarOcean was represented by Vivian Novenario-Ongpin, President, and Capt. Joseph Alican, Operations Manager, who served as moderator of the forum. 

Industry partners from government institutions and private supplying companies were also invited to share the latest developments on their products and services that cater seafarer interests and concerns.   

Getting ready for 2020

Formally opening the forum Ms. Hartmann, welcomed the participants and guests and provided an overview of the company’s current crew development programs as well as growth prospects for the coming year. 

Mr. Tsitsonis continued with presenting Star Bulk’s Milestones and Direction, underscoring the dynamic changes taking place in the shipping industry. He emphasized on technological advancements, amendments in policies and regulations, and the necessary skills upgrading as the major factors affecting the industry today. 

“Modern technology is moving fast towards digitalization and automation and we must upgrade our skills in order to adapt to these developments,” he told participants at the forum. 

“It is then important for us to ‘unlearn’ and ‘relearn’ so that our skills and competencies are suited for the requirements of these new technologies,” Mr. Tsitsonis further stated. 

He also cited global economic developments and environmental challenges as other factors influencing the direction of shipping and how these will affect the seafarers profession. 

The issues on environment and sustainability were on Mr. Belexi’s focus  during his session. He elaborated the potential impact of the forthcoming IMO 2020 regulations, new types of fuels, ballast water treatment, and exhaust gas cleaning systems, among others. 

“These technical issues will greatly affect how we conduct our shipping operations,” according to Mr. Belexis. “For us to comply and cope, it is important for our crew to have the necessary awareness, training and sharing of information regarding the new regulations.”

Updates on crew concerns

Complementing the sessions on crew competence were presentations of invited guest resource covering different aspects of crew concerns. 

Cdr. Eugenio Federico of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) discussed Port Authorities and Tokyo MOU Perspective, campaign towards IMO 2020, while Dr. Ma. Lourdes Quetulio of Ygeia Medical Center presented the importance of physical and mental health for seafarers. 

Atty. Rowena Hubilla of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) provided an update on the MARINA SID/SRB integrated system, which was followed by another update, this time on E-Registration System V2 by Benjamin Joseph Lee of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The rest of the afternoon sessions continued with presentations from Atty. Pedrito Faytaren of Del Rosario & Del Rosario Law Offices on ambulant chasers; Jeffrey Copiaco of ValuCare Health Systems on HMO digital innovation; Alvin Garcia of the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) on improved and expanded benefits, services and coverage for work-related contingencies; and Charles Joseph Ramos of BPI on the elements of financial health. 

Culminating the forum was a Q&A and open discussions aimed at soliciting feedback from participants and promoting better interaction between management and crew. 

“Human relations is key in determining whether our crew development programs are effective,” Ms. Hartmann said, noting the importance of constant communication. “It is important for management to build trust among our crew, as trust encourages productive cooperation, which in turn translates to excellence in performance,” she concluded.