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Ten Odfjell'ers embark on the One Ocean Expedition

We bid safe travels to our colleagues embarking on tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl today for a once-in-a-lifetime leadership course.

October 7, 2022: It’s a balmy 27 celsius on island Ishigaki in Japan as ten Odfjell’ers board the 108-year-old Statsraad Lehmkuhl, one of the world's largest and most beautiful tall ships, currently underway on its global circumnavigation to raise awareness about ocean sustainability. 

For decades the grand ship has been used to train leaders of the Norwegian navy, but this week, October 7-12, sailing towards the Philippines, she will be the unique training site for 75 professionals from the maritime industry, headed by the Norway-based organization Maritime Bergen.

Fellow sailors from all walks of life

Most of the participants – although maritime industry colleagues from across the value chain – will only just be discovering their sea legs. There are seafarers among this pioneer class of students, but also CEOs, psychologists, business analysts, superintendents, operation managers, and advisors.

From left, back: Bryan Anderson, Anette Tennes, Michelle Loeffler, Rodrigo Menegatti and Gabrielle Michel. From left, front: Mary Ann Teoc, Zayber Araya, Silje Johnsen, Kristoffer Ramstad and Mephokazi Bhengu.

Odfjell's own team hails from five different countries, picked from an enthusiastic and thrilling recruitment process from our offices worldwide.

The Odfjell team:

  • Anette Kristine Tennes, 2nd Officer, Norway
  • Bryan Anderson, Senior Port Operator, USA
  • Gabrielle Mattos Dias Michel, 2nd Mate, Brazil
  • Kristoffer Ramstad, Manager Fleet Performance, Norway
  • Mary Ann Teoc, Quality Controller Fleet Performance, Philippines
  • Mephokazi Bhengu, Commercial Assistant, South Africa
  • Michelle Loeffler, Marine Superintendent, Norway
  • Rodrigo Menegatti, Operation Manager, Brazil
  • Zayber Araya, Seaman, Philippines
  • Silje Helene Johnsen, Business Analyst, Norway

Maritime, international diversity

Siv Remøy-Vangen, CEO of Maritime Bergen, who spearheaded the organizing team, says it was “just natural” to want to be a part of the expedition when they were approached by the Statsraad Lehmkuhl foundation CEO, Haakon Vatle:

“This leg represents our industry's diversity. When you work in shipping, you can do business with Singapore and close with Brazil before bed. It was incredible to see the turnout from the different companies and how they nominated participants from all over their offices and all over the world.”

She continues: “Amazingly, we have 75 participants from 16 countries on four continents. The age gap is 16-66, and the gender balance is 45-55%. The melting pot of people on the Statsraad Lehmkuhl on this leg shows the diversity of the maritime industry. I hope that the output of this voyage will be something that we can take with us in the future, that it will contribute to breaking down silos and that we can learn more from each other.”


The One Ocean Expedition

The Statsraad Lemkuhl was built as a training ship for the German merchant fleet in 1914. The tall ship has been a training vessel under the Norwegian flag for over a century and is now a floating university filled with students, researchers, trainees and crew working together gathering knowledge about the ocean as part of the unique One Ocean Expedition.


As part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the expedition set sail from Norway last August to circumnavigate the globe for 20 months to raise awareness about the ocean's role in a sustainable future. That is why Statsraad Lemkuhl is outfitted with cutting-edge research equipment to collect data for distribution by The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, one of Europe's largest marine research institutes.

Most of the expedition is funded by business organizations, as well as ticket buyers on the expedition's open legs. This leg, the 29th of 36, was organized and chartered by Maritime Bergen.

A unique leadership program

The leadership program was designed by work- and organizational psychology professor and former navy officer Olav Kjellevold Olsen. With 27 years of experience under his belt, including 14 as an operational leadership Naval Academy headteacher, Olav is an operational psychology and leadership expert with special expertise in the maritime field.

The unconventional curriculum goes beyond presentations and lectures and includes four-hour shifts to man the sailboat’s watch under supervision from its 20-strong crew. This is no business hotel, and participants will sleep in hammocks.

One of the participants switching his dress shirt for sailing wear is Odfjell's own Manager Fleet Performance, Kristoffer Ramstaad, who's dreamed of sailing with the Statsraad Lehmkuhl for years. He hasn't sailed much but is confident that the voyage will triumph over any fears, such as climbing the mast, dealing with heights, rough seas, and seasickness. "I love to be forced out of my comfort zone, and this milestone will be worth talking about for the next two decades," he says.

Adapt “quickly and stay open, but safety first”

Sending off his colleagues, CEO Harald Fotland, a navy alumn himself, has some tips for how the participants who are not used to the seafarer’s life can adjust: “Adapt to the routines as quickly as possible and make sure you get enough sleep and food when you have the chance. It's easy to get too eager, and then you forget to also cater to your basic needs. Understanding the routines and responsibilities will make it easier to harvest all the opportunities that the trip will give.”

And, of course, he hastens to add that safety onboard is of the utmost importance – listen to advice and don’t take any chances!

“There will be a lot to gain on a personal level, and I hope that Odfjell, as a whole, will benefit from it. Be open, interested, and inclusive from the first minute you are on board. You have to be willing to participate and contribute to joint success. The more open and engaged you are, the better outcome you will have from this trip.”

The leg will conclude in Manila next Wednesday, which will coincide with the Norway-Philippines Maritime & Energy Conference, hosted by The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and the Norwegian Embassy from October 13-14. It’s a fitting closure to the journey bringing so many facets of the maritime industry together, which bodes well for the cooperation and collaborations that are bound to come.

Until then: Safe sailing!

Written by Zayana Zulkiflee

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