Celia Kang, Marine Personnel Manager at Ardmore Shipping, speaks to chief engineer Sridar Nallamani about his love for travel and his passion for seafaring. With the current crew crisis, and implications of COVID-19, Sridar reflects on the challenges of life at sea, and his fond memories and experiences of life as a seafarer.
What can you remember from your first trip as an engineering cadet?
It is still fresh in my mind nearly 22 years later when I joined a Chemical tanker M.T. Spic Pearl in Tuticorin in April 1999. The ship had four junior engineers and three 4th engineers. Watch keeping duties were done by one team of junior and 4th engineers. The most senior of the junior engineers worked with the fitter and had access to the more “hands on” jobs. We had an unfortunate incident of an auxiliary engine crankcase exploding during my first month, but fortunately no one was injured onboard and it was a steep learning curve with lots of training.
Did you always work on tankers?
I started with chemical tankers, followed by container ships and VLCC’S until I was 2nd
Engineer in 2006. I got my promotion to chief engineer on MR tankers in 2011 and since then I have been sailing on MR tankers, partially fulfilling my passion for travelling.
What is the biggest challenges you have experienced since you first went to sea?
Being at sea is not easy, contracts can feel very long when you are away from loved ones and I missed a lot of the fun when the kids were growing up. However, convincing my parents and wife to join me at sea as a junior engineer was one of the most special memories I have. My dad was reluctant for me to become a seafarer as he was aware of how the shipping industry was from his time in charge of Chennai harbour. I managed to convince him though, and he saw how far the industry had changed and how I enjoyed my role.
Lots of new regulations have come into force, which is really difficult to manage in the present scenario, particularly as training can be difficult. Reduction in staff onboard and minimum or nil socializing with the personnel onboard is also very challenging.
What is your experience of sailing with Ardmore Shipping?
Ardmore personal touch towards the staff onboard with no blame culture is particularly special. Diverting the ships for crew signoff to India during the pandemic in 2020 speaks volumes of Ardmore’s feelings towards crew welfare.
One particular incident in Sri Lanka in 2016, I will never forget. A representative boarded the vessel and had personal interviews with all the crew. While doing so he came to know that two of the staff had been with the company for more than 25 years. That gentlemen arrived onboard the next day with cakes to celebrate 25 years of service. These small things go a long way in motivating the crew and bringing a sense of being wanted and valued by the company.
For more information about opportunities with Ardmore Shipping, please visit: https://ardmoreshipping.com/crewing/