How to Choose a Good Shipping Company?
Last updated on March 10th, 2023 at 11:18 am
Before starting with the blog, please remember that sometimes there are a lot of reasons for not doing something but sometimes just one reason is enough to do something that we believe in, against all odds. This blog will share with you all the challenges that a seafarer can face and it might demotivate a few as well. The idea is, to create awareness and warn you that if you don’t take your steps in this career with caution and under supervision, you might land up in trouble.
Competition is one of the constants in business, something that can spur you on to do better or cause you to stumble. If you are looking for a shipping company to work with, there are many things to consider. This article describes the key points that will help you find a good one. Every industry has varying degrees of competition and you may really have trouble finding a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Thanks to the one-touch internet functionality, today you also have the opportunity to read reviews about the services of an e-commerce website or the product of your choice that you want to buy. In other words, it is a well-informed decision before you even decide to hit the pay button. Does the same criterion apply to maritime websites with vacant positions? This is the reason why many people ask how to choose a good shipping company.
Let us look at some of the important factors while choosing a good Shipping company.
1. Salary Delay
- There is no big secret in saying that the biggest concern of every sailor on board is his/her salary. After a whole month of hard work and dedication, he expects his employers to meet their obligations to transfer the full monthly salary he has earned, to his specified bank account. Some seafarers are lucky enough to get their hard-earned money on time, but some unlucky ones have to spend endless days and nights in fear when their wages are withheld from them by their employers.
2. Unpleasant Environment
- The seafarers which fall into advertisement traps and land into below average shipping companies mostly complain about the poor working conditions on board, threats from officials or employers for participating in illegal activities, unsafe vessels, unhealthy or improper diet etc.
3. Length of the Contract and Regular Salary Payment
- Some seafarers may prefer short contracts while others may consider longer ones, but a good shipping company will ensure that wages and compensation are paid on time.
4. Ease in Sign-In/ Sign-Off Process
- The factors such as amount of vacation time available after sign-off, the availability of fast and immediate sign-on and sign-off, as well as quick joining and re-joining, may help to distinguish between different companies. A good Shipping company will ensure that their crew members are getting Ships on time and being relieved from their duties on time as well.
5. Internet Availability
- In today’s rapid and digitally interconnected world, effective and sufficient availability of the internet, plays a huge role in taking the decision to join a particular Shipping Company. Even today there are a few companies, where you have to buy Internet cards onboard and also a few with unlimited internet available, free of cost.
6. Maritime Laws Followed With Strictness
- Obeying the rules of proper rest hour standards becomes a challenging job in case of crew shortage, due to which efficient decision making becomes difficult for the crew. A good Shipping company always maintains enough crew onboard and encourages to give their crew proper rest, before starting any work. In order to avoid any untoward incidents due to fatigue.
7. ITF Approved Ships
- Another method to feel secure about working conditions at sea is to make sure the contract is based on an ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation). ITF is known to be strict in taking care of the workers at the sea. Therefore, the moment one should know that the company has Ships approved by ITF, half the worries are over.
When choosing a shipping company, seafarers often rely on word of mouth from other seafarers or are attracted to unusual advertising. In some cases, seafarers occupy the first available position based on their own urgent needs, but later regret it. The fact is that the Brotherhood of the Sailors is the most disconnected group and there is no proper website, forum or online blog that informs them of the working conditions on board before signing their employment contract with a particular company.
Types of Shipping Companies-
Companies in Merchant Navy are mainly classified into-
- Ownership companies,
- Management companies
1. Ownership Company
These shipping companies have their own vessels and take care of all the aspects such as the crew and the technical aspects. Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Chevron Shipping, Royal Dutch Shell, etc. are all examples of ownership companies.
2. Management Company
- Management companies do not actually own the ships, but they help the ship owners with the management of the ships, such as the crew and technical aspects. This means that the vessel owner hands over the vessel to the management companies and only overlooks, if everything is going well and the daily freight is paid to the owner etc. Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, Anglo-eastern Ship Management, Wilhelmsen Ship Management, etc. are common examples of management shipping companies.
Generally, Ownership Companies are termed to be better than Management Companies. In terms of employee treatment but some Management Companies are also maintaining great standards, when it comes to taking care of their employees. Keep tuned in as a separate blog will surely be made on this topic, very soon.
Steps to Follow When Joining a New Shipping Company?
By following some basic rules, seafarers can save themselves and their families, a lot of headaches when joining a new shipping company.
- Get as much information as you can about the company, its promoter, and its reputation. Don’t let the big label draw you in. Check if the company is DG approved.
- Never accept or commit to an employment contract over the phone unless you have obtained all the necessary information about the company or person you are interviewing.
- Find out about the Manning Agent / Executive which is responsible for all your services. Sometimes even a good company but a bad employee / manager can ruin your life and career.
- Never sign up without undergoing a proper medical examination. There have been cases where seafarers returned to their homeland after a few days due to a previously unknown illness and had to pay high costs for their repatriation. In India, according to Merchant Shipping, some medical conditions generally make a person unfit to work at the sea. A doctor authorized by DG Shipping will carry out a physical examination and laboratory tests for confirmation. A good Shipping company will bear all the expenses of the medical test before sending you on Ship.
- Please read your ‘Terms of Service’ carefully before signing your contract and never agree to sign your contract at the airport or onboard. Also, before joining, instead of asking questions to other officers and the captain on board later, clarify any questions you may have beforehand. As later it may be a little too late to ask.
- There are a few other things you may have in mind such as contractual allowances, food, meals on board etc. Instead of questioning and worrying the captain aboard your ship, joining a ship with a clear mind and with all the necessary information will save you from all the headaches. That would otherwise arise from a lack of information exchange with the employers prior to entry.
- You can take your family onboard ship with you, once you reach managerial positions. While many companies have a “no family” policy, some companies allow senior officers (captain, chief officer, chief engineer, and second engineer) to bring their families onboard. So, if you are planning to travel with your family onboard, safeguard them with medical insurance as it is not covered under the company insurance.
- Piracy is observed only in certain parts of the world and pirates are a problem in merchant navy, especially when navigating in areas where piracy is the highest. Piracy significantly increased during these global pandemic times. Therefore, have a prior knowledge about company policies on sailing in pirate waters. Check if you have the right to sign-off with full repatriation benefits in case you do not agree to sail in pirate waters of countries like Somalia or Nigeria.
- When you join a FOC (Flag of Convenience) ship, check with your local ITF affiliate for information on your guaranteed minimum wage, benefits and rights on the vessel and a directory of ITF offices around the world. You can even access the directory online. Also, while joining, make sure that the monthly salary agreed upon over phone or on email matches the one in the final contract.
- If you have to take internal courses, do not accept computerized signatures on certificates issued by the crew office. As you could run into problems with the port authorities.
So, when most companies create a job description and begin the application process, they are not necessarily focused on finding the right person for the position. The hiring manager (or search company) tries to fill the position with a candidate who simply meets a list of requirements. Don’t let the checked boxes rule your career. Before deciding on a position, you should take your time. If you think about your next step, everyone benefits. Remember that seamanship is a tough and difficult profession today. Join a ship endowed with information and knowledge. Believe me, your career and your life are both, not worth playing with. Hope this blog gave you some clarity on how to choose a good shipping company.
Next Read: Which one is better Ship Management Company or an Ownership Company?
I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles
I thorougly enjoyed reading your post. The list states everything you need to know when joining a new shipping company but i want to ask one thing. Which company should be considered while joining, ownership or management company? <a href= “https://www.gracenavigation.com/beta/” title=”Merchant Navy”>Shipping Company</a>
A blog will be out soon on Ownership versus Management Companies, please read that blog to clear your query.