Cpt Sokratis Tigkos, Crew Manager / Marine Manager for Omicron Ship Management, described the difficulties caused by the pandemic on the ship, speaking to DoctorNext2Me, explaining the efforts to adapt shipping to the current requirements of the countries, the difficulties in crews' replacement, and mentioning urgent health issues concerning seafarers, such as the priority in vaccination, which must be self-evident and non-negotiable, the burden on the psychology of seafarers, and finally, mentioning the modern way of managing crews.
- One year after the pandemic started, what problems with crew management have been addressed?
“Αll planning at the beginning of the pandemic was destroyed, and as a result, all preparation and studies for crew rotation, planning, schedules, etc, were just canceled.
Τhen and after recovering from the initial shock, we tried and try to adapt to the current requirements of the countries which change frequently.
Ιf we overcome the first obstacle concerning whether the country in which the ship is located, allows or not the crew changes, we have to deal with huge costs, flight difficulties and the risk of canceling everything at the last minute”.
- What other important issues for seafarers are you trying to address?
“Seafarers' priority in vaccination should be a given and non-negotiable. Nevertheless, since it seems that such a thing on a large scale will be delayed, the process of changing crews should be facilitated. On the one hand, there are seamen who are at sea for a very long time, and their psychology is now worn out, on the other hand, there are seamen who are without a job and income for a very long time”.
- What are the common health problems reported by crews and what new issues have arisen due to the pandemic?
“The psychology part concerns us a lot. The ship is in itself a difficult working environment which now seems unbearable for many. The seafarers' psychological status is tested each time the crew change process is canceled or rejected”.
- In general, what is the modern way of managing crews?
“There is no magic wand or secret ingredient. The organization, preparation, and respect for the person getting on or off the ship. To find the pulse in the crew department requires patience and perseverance”.