SMART4SEA Conference & Awards

31 Jan 2017
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SMART4SEA Conference & Awards

31 Jan 2017
Learn More

Key focus areas for shipping in 2017


Sokratis Dimakopoulos, Deputy Managing Director, Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement, has responded to SAFETY4SEA questions by addressing key challenges for the shipping industry during 2017. Mr Dimakopoulos also shares company’s plans for the new year with the aim to improve further training, HSE, vetting and PSC performance which is considered as a “ticket” to commercial success.


SAFETY4SEA: Do you think there was a significant success and/or progress made with respect to maritime safety during 2016? Focusing on your area of expertise, what were the most important industry developments within 2016?

Sokratis Dimakopoulos: In 2016 the most important industry developments were not related with the maritime safety but mainly with the marine environmental protection issues such as the ballast water management, the CO2 MRV requirements as well as the recent decision for implementing the 0.5% m/m sulphur global cap in 2020.

As regards maritime safety, I note with great interest the recent initiatives of INTERTANKO and OCIMF to work jointly on matters that concentrate on improving the decision making, behaviours and actions of people on board and ashore. I really believe that the work currently in progress by these two Organizations on “crew competence management systems” and “learnings from incidents” have the potential to deliver a step change in safety and operational excellence for the benefit of the entire industry.

It should be also noted that cybersecurity has emerged in 2016 as a new area that in the next years will become a key critical business issue for the maritime industry.


S4S: Focusing on your area of expertise, what do you think that it will be the biggest safety challenge(s) for the maritime safety for the 2017?

S.D.: I consider that the following main challenges lie ahead of us.

Firstly, we need to manage successfully the human element which is the key success parameter in our industry and therefore we will have to pay the utmost importance in ensuring that we have the right persons onboard the right vessels at the right time.

Secondly, we have to manage efficiently the new technology. Ships are becoming more complex and technologically advanced and this requires the necessary adaptation both at the technical as well as at the operational level.

In addition, modern information and communications technology have provided ships with enhanced monitoring, communication, control and connection capabilities. These systems have the potential to enhance safety, reliability and business performance, but at the same time there are numerous relevant risks that need to be identified, understood and mitigated. As such, cybersecurity will be a significant challenge for our industry.


S4S: What would be the 2017 resolutions for your company/ organization? What are your goals and aspirations to enhance shipping safety? Do you have any new projects on the pipeline and/or plans for 2017 that you would like to share?

S.D.: The main goal that we have set in our Company for 2017 is to reinforce the position of TCM as a leading management company which would be considered synonymous to quality, compliance, reliability, safe, flawless, efficient and cost-effective shipping operations.

We will continue to allocate significant resources in continually enhancing the personnel competency management system of the Company by investing further in the continual improvement of our training facilities and capabilities and we hope that within the next year to be able to acquire accreditation for DP training under an internationally recognized scheme.

We want to maintain and even improve further the very good HSE, vetting and PSC performance of the company which is considered as a “ticket” to commercial success.

Cybersecurity is an area that we work extensively and we plan to have the Company’s information security system be certified against ISO 27001 “Information Security management” within the next year.


S4S: What is your overall forecast for shipping safety in 2017 and what would you like to share and/or wish and/or ask other industry stakeholders?

S.D.: Shipping should continue to allocate the utmost importance in the continual improvement of its safety performance and as such – despite the challenging freight market conditions – our industry needs to manage successfully the challenges that lie ahead.

In this challenging period, attention should be given to making more efficient use of available resources, optimizing processes, enhanced and closer monitoring of operations as well as making using of all available opportunities for synergies and economies of scale.

However, attention should be given to ensure that this optimization would not have a negative effect on the reliability and safety of our operations nor to the compliance level since otherwise the sustainability of the business could be jeopardized.

I believe that cybersecurity will attract a lot of attention and I expect that in the near future legal requirements first for the ports and then for the ships will be introduced mainly in US. As such, shipping companies should start reviewing and adapting, as need be, their safety, security  and information management systems.

Finally, I would like to wish – as regards Greek shipping – that we should not lose sight from the ultimate challenge which is to maintain the seamanship and the maritime tradition values of our nation since without these elements the sustainability of our industry would be at risk.


The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.

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