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Columbia Shipmanagement president O'Neil highlights need for tailored crew welfare

Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM) president Mark O’Neil highlights nutrition and mental health as two areas that can benefit from tailored crew welfare management.

Speaking at Crew Connect Global in Manila O’Neil described much of the catering provided onboard ships as “woeful” in terms of its nutritional value.

“An army marches on its stomach, and there’s no doubt about it feed your guys well and they’ll do anything for you… the same applies for shipping,” he stated.

“We’ve found a woeful lack of respect or knowledge in the nutritional requirements of crew on board vessels. If the quality of the food the shipping industry was putting on board vessels and expected crew members to eat and be healthy was woeful and inadequate.”

Not that providing healthy nutritional meals on board vessels is necessarily that easy and he admitted they had “failed miserably” when they set up their own company to do this, and instead had since sought the services of when of the companies exhibiting in the area outside the conference.

“Our eyes were opened, here is a company that targets individual crew members, and targets cultures onboard, sends menus everyday, does virtual store rooms and advises the Captain what they can cook healthily and fresh,” O’Neil explained.

“That’s crew welfare management, not just fill up the store room with ready made meals every month for $10,000 and expect your crew to be healthy, well fed and motivated as a result. Nutrition is the way ahead, tailored for individual crew and cultures on the vessel. Again it’s a quantum leap from what are all used to.”

Another area he highlighted was mental health relating that he experienced his own issues after serving in the military. CSM has set-up a 24 hours mental health hotline which seafarers can reach out to when they have problems.

“While as ceo I am not allowed to know details of that, it is something that is used and used frequently. Our crew members are being subjected to horrors on occasions and we’ve got be there to assist them if need be,” O’Neil explained.

In addition to helping address the human cost of addressing mental health issues the helpline can also have commercial value ensuring smooth vessel operations.

It is of such human value that the hotline is something CSM is happy to offer out to other companies in the market if they are interested.

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