Up until the mid 1980s, European registered vessels were manned basically with crew coming from the country of registry. Nowadays however, ship owners typically register their vessels under flags of convenience and rely on crew from countries having the benefit of low cost labour. Recruiting qualified crew has in the meantime become increasingly difficult.
Odfjell therefore, has gradually taken steps to address the challenge. In late 1999, we designated our own representative to the Philippines with the aim of shifting from sole dependency on local manning agents to a more hands-on management approach. Realizing the competence and excellent work ethic of Filipino seafarers, a decision was made to focus only on the Philippines for our crew supply. Today, two-thirds of the Odfjell crew is Filipino.
In 2002, Odfjell partnered with Wartsila Land and Sea Academy and established the Odfjell
Academy in Subic Bay, Philippines, purpose being to further improve the training and development of our seafarers. And in 2004 collaboration was initiated with John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU) to establish the Odfjell Cadet Programme by which the training and development of our cadets now dovetail perfectly with our Company’s needs and requirements. Today our scholarship programmes engage more than 130 cadets in the Bacolod campus and 25 cadets on board various ships whilst undergoing their one-year shipboard training. Graduates of the scholarship programme continue to excel and many of them have already become officers for Odfjell.
In order to meet ever higher customer expectations, we decided in 2009 to establish our own companies in the Philippines. Odfjell Philippines, Inc. and Odfjell Ship Management Philippines, Inc. were thus registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In early 2008, Odfjell Philippines was issued a temporary one-year permit to operate as a manning agency, necessitating our gradual move to own offices in the Atlantis Beacon Tower.
Our new office building was formally inaugurated on September 8, 2008, manifesting Odfjell’s commitment to our seafarers and our intention to remain in the Philippines for many years to come. Since then, Odfjell Philippines has been actively engaged in manning activities for our global fleet of specialized chemical tankers.