How experience and presence impact the choice of technical ship manager

How experience and presence impact the choice of technical ship manager
The core business of WINOT OU is technical ship management, which encompasses a wide variety of services. To understand which technical manager is right for you, ship owners must firstly understand the scope of the services they are acquiring with their chosen technical ship management company.
Vessel’s day to day functions as well as specific commercial and other operations involve many moving parts and participants. However, most of the services offered to ship owners fall into a small number of functions that form basis for technical ship management. We at WINOT OU generally separate them in four different categories:
· Planning (including budgeting);
· Vessel maintenance (including drydocking);
· Inspection (internal and external);
· Crewing.
All of the functions and processes involve and affect each other in many ways. Such close involvement between separate functions can create wrinkles in the smooth process of management when different divisions work on the same project. Sometimes these processes can be hard to navigate if you don’t have the right know-how and experience to anticipate. Let’s take a look at most common obstacles that can arise in the ship management process.

Planning (and budgeting)
Planning involves all the components of technical management, from compiling schedule for maintenance and commercial voyages to budgeting and accounting of every vessel expense and more. To make sure that a vessel is fully operational for commercial activity and maintains all the necessary and appropriate standards of quality regular maintenance (including drydocking) and inspections, both internal and external, is a necessity. We, at WINOT OU, find that our deep wealth of experience and industry know-hows help to anticipate possible delays with repair works and docking operations, to select the most trustworthy suppliers as well as to prepare for Classification Society, P&I club, PSC and other inspection that can potentially prevent the vessel from performing its duties.
Procurement is a very important part of the technical management, planning, budgeting and accounting for which is necessary for all commercial and maintenance activities the vessel is involved in. Most procurement can be split in two groups – consumables (food, water, fuel, spare parts etc.) and non-consumables (new/upgraded/replacement equipment). Procurement of fuel (bunkering) is a big part of technical ship management and, depending on specific area of sailing and vessel, requires an in-depth understanding of pollution prevention laws as well as planning and budgeting. Experienced technical manager knows how to select an appropriate suppliers, how to minimize risks with supply chain, how to minimize expenses and expenditures of resources while maintaining full operational capacity of the vessel.

Vessel maintenance (including drydocking)
Maintenance refers to the anticipated set technical services performed on onboard equipment aimed at prolonging service life of said equipment while preserving its efficiency. Such measures, both repair and preventive, are necessary to control the costs of vessel operation. Maintenance is a predictive process, which involves careful and meticulous planning. Nowadays use of PMS (planned maintenance system) software is prevalent in technical ship management. The quality of technical management often judged on how well the company can balance the cost-benefit during the planning of Maintenance, Drydocking and any other unforeseen repair works.
Drydocking is an integral part of technical management of any vessel. It requires months of planning, calculations and arranging to perform successfully. As per SOLAS requirements, all merchant vessel must pass a hull survey at drydock every year and a half, although. Aside from regulatory requirements, area of work and the nature of performed tasks by the vessel dictate the need for yearly drydocking for merchant and fishing vessels alike. Some of the toughest sailing areas, like Polar zones for example, can wear out a vessel far more severely than anticipated. When choosing technical manager, most ship owners must pay attention to the experience said managers have not only with owner’s type of vessel but also with sailing area in which the supposed vessel operates.

Inspection can be roughly separated into internal and external. Internal inspections of the vessel are carried out by appropriate officers of said vessel as well as company representatives, such as Superintendents and DPAs. During planning stages of any maintenance, drydocking or other repair works appropriate vessel and company personnel, often in congress with outside professionals involved in specific projects, perform technical inspection of necessary onboard equipment, mechanisms and vessel component parts to determine the scope of required work and resources. Internal inspection of vessel’s documentation is a very sizable part of technical management. In order to make sure that company and the vessel comply with all the necessary requirements of maritime labor, environmental protection, safety management and other legislation, every merchant vessel (and in some cases fishing vessels) have installed an SMS (safety management system) that involves an expansive set of vessel and company internal documentation that outline and regulate vessel’s functions, rules and regulations for seafarer’s activities on board and many other aspects of regulated vessel operations. Appropriate employees of technical manager must perform regular checks of vessel documentation in order to ensure compliance with appropriate legislation and prepare the vessel and the company to various Flag state, Classification society, Port state control and any other possible external inspections.
External inspections vary depending on the body that performs the inspections. Classification society performs a large number of inspections, some annual some less frequent, to evaluate and certify vessel’s SMS, compliance with appropriate maritime labor laws, environmental protection and pollution prevention statutes, confirmation of vessel’s class, certification of on-board radio, navigation and many other types of equipment. All the Classification society certificates as well as P&I club and other appropriate insurance certificates are part of necessary vessel documentation inspected by the Port State control among others, without which vessel risks arrest and even harsher punishments for responsible parties. Good technical manager must posses the legal know-how in order to make sure that vessel and the ship owner are protected from the problems and expenses involved with failed PSC and other port state authority inspections.

Crewing is a selection, employment and discharge of vessel’s operating work force – seafarers. Full service technical managers, such as WINOT OU, have the know-how, experience, qualifications and certifications necessary to provide crewing (selection) as well as crew management (employment, accounting) services to our clients internally. Crew selection requires legal knowledge regarding Seafarer’s certification of qualifications while crew management also involves understanding of maritime and Flag state Labor Laws, budgeting and accounting savvy and other knowledge and skills necessary for HR management.

All of the abovementioned things can be taken care of by most technical ship managers, however the difference in resources required and range of services provided to do so depends on experience, international presence and familiarity with commercial activities performed by the vessel in question. Choosing the right technical manager can mean success or failure for ship owner’s project. From our experience, such criteria as expertise, network of contacts and regulatory savvy are the main factors on which the potential technical manager is judged.