Following its meeting in Oslo, Norway during the international NorShipping event, InterManager, the international trade association for in-house and third party ship managers, has set its sights on examining two key areas which could have significant benefits for the shipping industry.

First in its list of priorities is an investigation of minimum manning levels for different types of vessels trading on different trade routes and carrying different cargo types to determine whether and how these need to be reviewed, better understood for their implications to safety and efficiency and then discussed at flag state level to take into account required rest hours as set under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

The rules currently in place stipulate the minimum number of personnel needed to move a ship safely from one port to another. InterManager is concerned, however, that these rules were not just meant to set a crew complement number but were intended to also serve as a mechanism to improve overall operational status. Given today’s operating realities, this may not actually be what is happening. InterManager’s Executive Committee agreed to engage with industry stakeholders to consider how best to ensure sustainable and safe manning levels, taking into account the current operating and legislative environment, onboard administrative burdens and fatigue issues.

A second important area that InterManager also intends to examine is the issue of “the paperless ship” and work to draw up guidelines aimed at reducing the amount of paperwork officers and their crew have to undertake while at sea. Executive members are keen to seek ways to reduce this burden and improve the flow of form filling between the ship and shore.

Gerardo Borromeo, InterManager President, said: “Managers are concerned that these previously agreed minimum manning levels may not be properly reflective of today’s marketplace. For example, a VLCC calling at seven ports a year may have a minimum manning level of 18 but a smaller chemical tanker, calling at over 100 ports in the same period may be required to operate with a much lower crew complement of say 12. This has concerning implications when you consider the number of ports such a vessel may be visiting in a very short period of time.”

“We want flag states to look at each vessel type, the cargo it is carrying and the voyages it is on and to set up and agree on legislation to ensure there are always sufficient people on board to operate that vessel safely while catering for the necessary rest hours. We, of course, need to be realistic in approaching this issue as it involves not only safety and efficiency, but economics as well. At the end of the day, InterManager is looking to drive sustainable solutions that benefit the entire industry and the general public.

He added: “The burden of administrative tasks falling on seafarers in today’s shipping industry is significant. Industry surveys have indicated that the volume of red tape is one of the factor’s adversely affecting recruitment. InterManager aims to improve this situation not just for today’s seafarers but also for tomorrow’s.”

These new projects follow confirmation this week that InterManager has achieved its pre-set aim of delivering a comparable set of operational KPIs to the shipping industry as a whole by passing over ownership of the scheme to BIMCO. Working on behalf of the entire shipping industry since 2003, InterManager, its members and its project partners – including the Norwegian Research Council, Marintek and SOFTimpact – have worked tirelessly to produce a unique and comprehensive monitoring system which has the potential to produce huge benefits for ship operators.

Captain Kuba Szymanski, Secretary General of InterManager and part of the core development team for the system, said: “The KPI system was born out of a need for an international system to define, measure and report on operational performance in an effort to respond to society’s increasing demands. Our members have spent 13 years on developing and perfecting this system and we are deeply grateful to them for their tireless efforts. It is accredit to them and to the KP System that an organisation like Bimco now sees fit to take up the reins and roll out this invaluable system to the benefit of the entire shipping industry.”