‘ON THE FRONT LINE’ – A SPOTLIGHT ON AAL’S GLOBAL SEAFARERS

10/07/2024

On June 25, AAL Shipping (AAL) celebrated international ‘Day of the Seafarer’ – an opportunity to come together and show appreciation for the outstanding work of our crew, and seafarers around the world.

More than 80 percent of the world trade in volume is transported by sea. There are approximately 60,000 ocean-going ships and the world tonnage is steadily increasing by approximately 5 percent every year. Worldwide, the number of seafarers employed in sea-going trade is estimated to be 1.8 million, including officers and ratings. Every day, these unsung heroes work to ensure the world’s trade keeps flowing.

The hard work of Seafarers and their success stories rarely reach the news or social media. Their commitment to their careers – be it leaving their families ashore for months at a time or working in a tough and challenging environment – go unnoticed by the public. Day of the Seafarer brings their role into sharp focus and offers both AAL and our partners an opportunity to thank them for their indispensable contribution to our successes and convey to all seagoing personnel our warmest wishes.

Whilst we use June 25 as a day to spotlight their hard work and dedication, efforts to ensure the well-being of our crew worldwide is a year-round priority and something we work closely with our affiliated Group company, the Columbia Group, to achieve.

Captain Faouzi Fradi, Group Director of Crewing and Training at the Columbia Group, explained: “The well-being of our seafarers is at the heart of our objectives and operations. Our crew are the most valuable asset for our business and their well-being and safety are paramount.”

According to the Mission to Seafarers’ Seafarers’ Happiness Index (SHI), there are several factors that affect the well-being of maritime workers, ranging from financial security, shore leave, healthy food and drink, connectivity and communication, and training and development. Within AAL and the Columbia Group, there have been proactive steps taken to address the conditions of life at sea and raise industry standards for seafarers.

“Initiatives to improve the conditions of life at sea form part of a holistic approach – offering crew adequate internet connection, 24/7 mental health support and telemedicine, nutrition advice, fitness equipment onboard, healthy recipes and food management,” Fradi explained.

“Shore leave is one of the major attractions for seafaring jobs and, thankfully, the global situation has greatly improved post-covid. However, it is still not authorised at some terminals and port facilities around the world, hence it is extremely important to have good internet connectivity to enable our crew to say in touch with their loved ones whilst onboard.”

Another key point that needs to be considered when discussing seafarers’ well-being is workload. High workload and tight schedules, when not properly managed, can lead to fatigue and stress, posing a risk to the safety of the crew. The Columbia Group ensures that our own crew is regularly rotated and provides the adequate number of crew members onboard, to properly regulate work and adequate rest hours. He added, “With this, we can ensure our seafarers’ mental health, physical state and well-being are constantly addressed. We also offer our crew a means to communicate at any time with office personnel and advisors – confidentially or even anonymously if needed.”

Valentin Gherciu, Head of Operations at AAL, added: “Seafarers are the backbone of AAL’s global operations, ensuring that we continually uphold the highest standard of front-line service to our clients. With the Columbia Group as our partner, we not only attract both young cadets and seasoned crew, but also retain and nurture their talent with innovative solutions to develop their multipurpose cargo handling skills and offer strong long-term careers within our niche shipping sector.”

Valentin Gherciu
Head of Operations, AAL

Fradi concluded: “Our values incorporate a strong commitment to inclusion and diversity of which the recruitment of female cadets and seafarers is fundamental. The ‘Female Cadets Mentoring Programme’ that we have developed and rolled out globally has been widely praised within the industry, setting the benchmark for other crew management companies to follow.”

The very welcome of increase in women in maritime positions is just one of the positive developments to share as an industry. While the jump in numbers is not increasing as much as we would like, there are still some 25,000 female maritime workers out there that have joined the global seafaring community. And there is one word that encompasses their professional careers – resilience.

As we reflect on Day of the Seafarer, we would like to thank our diligent crew around the world for that resilience, and their dedication, every single day.

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