Cremers warns against a drop in maintenance standards

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Ship managers and owners should maintain high safety standards in the face of the current economic climate and need to make officers’ salaries and preventive maintenance costs less market dependent, according to the head of one of the world’s largest shipmanagement companies.

“As I know for sure, over the life span of a ship – correct and timely maintenance, combined with a happy and professional, experienced crew, is the most economical way to run a ship,” said Peter Cremers (pictured), CEO of Hong Kong-based Anglo Eastern.

He said that utilising third party shipmanagement could maximise revenue, maintain vessel value and extend the life of a ship through controlling expenses and managing preventative maintenance for ships.

“The economic downturn itself is not the only problem we are facing. I have two major concerns, both industry concerns, with both having the potential to escalate the financial problems most of us are already experiencing,” he explained.

“Will our shipping industry have the maturity to maintain high technical and safety standards in spite of the downturn of the markets?

“To my mind, the current manpower crisis has resulted in a dilution of the quality standards of the industry. There has been pressure to reduce technical costs like never before – and cost has become the main selling point for many players on both sides.

“Short-cuts in a highly technical industry like shipping – do not bode well for preventive maintenance planning, training of officers and crew and generally – safety at sea.”

Mr Cremers continued: “I am also a strong believer that we should move towards making both salaries of crew as well as maintenance costs of ships, less market dependent.

“We need this moment to rethink the whole relationship we (the manager/owner) have with our staff at sea – and go back the full circle to the old days of seafarers being an integral part of the staff of a manager/owner.

“Can we make maintenance a bit more independent from the market cycles? Of course we can because basically, maintenance of a hull structure and its equipment is a technological problem.

“We have the technology and the know-how to design and construct a ship for a pre-defined life span and operational environment – and we have the know-how on how maintenance should be done consistent with the expected life span.

“There is a necessity, throughout the industry, to take a long-term view of the markets in planning and reacting to fluctuating market cycles and I am happy to discuss these with any owners, at their convenience,” Mr Cremers concluded.
Anglo Eastern has 285 ships of all types and sizes under full technical ship management, 65-70 ships under crew management as well as an active newbuilding supervision and technical services division. The Group employs in excess of 10,000 seafarers, mostly Indian, plus Filipino, Chinese and eastern European crews; with around 650 shore based employees, in 16 countries around the world.