YUNLIN BLOG – The Port Captain
16 Nov 2020 – With open communication and cooperation a lot can be achieved
Jumbo Senior Port Captain Tom van Ginkel talks to the Yunlin Blog about his work on the Yunlin offshore wind farm’s transport scope. Yes, experience is important, but nothing tops constructive communication for making a project run smoothly.
What is your role in the Yunlin offshore wind farm project?
I am one of Jumbo’s port captains. This primarily involves coordination of the loading and discharging operations on site, but includes preparation work too. Port captains check and give input on the engineering package – for the Yunlin project, we carried out vessel mobilization in Rotterdam and Eemshaven [NL]. We also make the planning for the port calls – making sure that everything is ready when the vessel arrives in port. For example, the Yunlin transports were loaded in Nordenham [DE] where there are tidal restrictions caused by insufficient water depth alongside the berth. Therefore, together with the terminal operator, we had to make a schedule about when to sail the vessel up and down from the lay-by berth to the terminal and back.
What makes a port call a success?
Of course, safety comes first, so we are pleased to say that we completed all the Yunlin transports with no incidents. But after that, communication is the key to success. Working on site requires communication with agents, stevedores, the marine warranty surveyor, welders, the terminal and, of course, with the vessel itself. And then we have our daily communication with the client and with the Jumbo head office.
How long did the loading process take?
It was a learning process for all involved; that was mostly due to the small tidal window. In the beginning, it would take four or five days, but later on we were completing loads, including securing the cargo for the sea passage, in three days. Here I have to give my respect to the ships’ crews, working twelve hours on, twelve hours off.
Jumbo subcontracted some transports to competitor carriers. What was it like to work with them?
Operations are always more straightforward with your own vessels and crews because everybody knows the working methods. It's a different story when you work with subcontractors because you have another layer of communication. But every company has their own style of working, so it is important to be open-minded and not only focus on the Jumbo way of working because there are other ways of working too. If I go on to another vessel with the attitude of ‘you are going to work my way’, then it is not going to work. You have to have open and diplomatic communication for a good collaboration. With our dedicated Jumbo crews set up at the mobilisation, load and discharge ports, ensuring 24/7 operations, our work with the subcontracted shipping companies mostly went well.
You mentioned the ‘Jumbo way of working’. What is that?
When you're talking about the ‘Jumbo way’, then it’s about having the flexibility and skills to overcome challenges. For example, in Taiwan it was quite a challenge to offload the big deck carrier with SPMTs, but in the end we found a way. We had to convince the Taiwanese port authorities that we could do it, but, yes, we found a way, and it went well. While I think that experience is useful, what is most important for me is communication and cooperation – whatever nationality you're working with. Then you can create a good atmosphere and achieve a lot.
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