The “21st NAVIGATOR 2022 – THE SHIPPING DECISION MAKERS FORUM”, held from 23 to 25 September 2022, was organized with great success by NAVIGATOR SHIPPING CONSULTANTS and the Bezantakos family. The Forum took place in Chios and Oinousses Islands, Eastern Aegean, Greece. Both Islands are the birthplace of many Greek shipowners who manage almost 10% of the world’s merchant fleet. More than 250 prominent executives from Shipping Companies, Organizations and the Media, representatives of the Hellenic Coast Guard, Embassies, Academics and Professors, as well as students of Academic Institutions - Universities and Schools and representatives from local authorities, participated in this three-day event.
Danae Bezantakou, CEO of Navigator Shipping Consultants, made the opening remarks, underlining that "Being all present today in the birthplace of thousands of seafarers and many shipowners, I could not omit in referring to the value of our seafarers and the maritime profession for Greek shipping, for the continuation of which we must all work, but also for the transmission of the naval tradition and values to the new generation that will work in our offices today... not tomorrow, as the human factor is the cornerstone for the progress of everything we will discuss today" .
Welcoming addresses were delivered by Capt. Dimitris Bezantakos, Founder and President of NAVIGATOR SHIPPING CONSULTANTS, the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, Ioannis Plakiotakis, Prof. Helena Thanopoulou, on behalf of the Dean of the University of the Aegean, the President of the Department of Shipping, Trade and Transport of the University of the Aegean, Prof. Seraphim Kapros, concluding with the words "internationalization, extroversion, excellence" and by the President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping Dr. George Pateras, who pointed out the resounding and strong presence of women in shipping, with Ms. Melina Travlou at the helm of the Union of Greek Shipowners and several more in leadership positions of organizations and large shipping companies. Finally, he highlighted that without young seafarers it is not possible for the ships to raise the Greek flag, inviting them to follow the maritime profession...since, as he characteristically said, "our seafarers created the Greek Shipping Miracle, and without them same is in danger".
The first panel of the Forum revolved around the topic of Smart Shipping, with Panos Theodosopoulos, Chief Digital Officer of Oceanking, presenting the main points and conclusions from the roundtable discussions of Navigator Assembly 2022, which took place on the 13th of April in Athens. It was emphasized that digital transformation in shipping, although it started a bit late relatively to other industries, has begun to enter both the office operations of shipping companies and on ships.
One of the first areas of application of digital products and services is the operation of vessels more efficiently, achieving minimum energy consumption with the smallest possible environmental footprint. Other areas of application are the improvement of maintenance planning and navigation support in difficult conditions. It was also pointed out that the new regulatory framework from 2023 is expected to accelerate the use of digital tools. This is why training of both crews and office executives is imperative.
Vassilis Kamitsis (Marshall Islands), Dimitris Sousoudis (MarineTraffic) and Dimitris Lambrinakos (Marichem-Marigases) were speakers at this first panel.
The moderator of the second session was Katerina Skourtanioti (Venlys) and the discussants Costas Kontes (VShips) and Maria Yiassa (The Swedish Club) shared their thoughts and opinions regarding the human element of this sector.
The focus of the discussion was the profile of the future seafarer, emphasizing on how they should become (again) or even better remain the main hub in new processes and operations on ships. Lifelong learning and continuous training to upgrade the skills (upskilling & reskilling) of crew members to be able to face all changes is an absolute priority. However, it must be understood, why all these changes are taking place, and what will be the role of “human beings” in a few years on ships.
Supply chain management and connectivity are always also key for shipping. Kostis Achladitis (Golden Cargo and member of the BoD of Chios Marine Club) and Nikos Gaitanis (Marine Support), under the moderation of Prof. Seraphim Kapros, addressed the difference between "Logistics" and "Maritime Logistics" underlining the exceptions they face every day when different ships, with different needs and specifications must be served in different ports of the world, forming a rule consisting of exceptions only.
Helena Athoussaki (Motor Oil), the moderator of Decarbonization panel along with Dr. George Pateras, (President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping), Carola Yannouli (Oceanking) and John Tsogas (SEKAVIN) mentioned the following points:
Significant regulatory requirements towards decarbonisation are driving the shipping industry through a period of rapid energy transition that will impact costs, asset values and profitability. Alternative energy infrastructure and production will be expensive and time consuming.
There are several technological/fuel options for sustainable energy (ammonia, hydrogen, methanol, LNG, biofuels, etc.) BUT they must be available, meeting shipping’s demand and safety standards. Consequently, the shipping companies cannot be "decarbonised" individually. Collaboration with other stakeholders (both public and private) can accelerate the transition to net zero emissions.
Katerina Stathopoulou (Investments & Finance) was moderating the ESG panel with Costas Constantinou (Moore Greece) and Nicolas Sopel (Quintet Private Bank) as discussants.
Contrary to popular perception, ESG is not only about the decarbonisation of shipping, nor is a purely a technical issue. In response to decades of social pressure, companies now compete in an expanded ’arena’ that - in addition to their financial performance - also takes into account their profile in terms of environmental (E), social (S) and governance (G) factors.
ESG criteria are already integrated into financing and investment decisions and are now required by other players in the supply chain. It therefore needs to be integrated directly into the culture and strategy of the companies, although the context is not yet completely clear. At the same time, it should be included in a transparent and consistent way in the financial and non-financial information.
Aside the conference, the participants went to Oinousses where the Mayor, Mr. George Daniel welcomed them at “Naftosynis’ Square” (Seamanship Square). Then, the participants had the opportunity to visit the Merchant Marine Academy of Oinousses for deck officers, where they were guided by the Lieutenant Commander (HCG) Dimitrios Kloumasis, the Maritime Museum of Oinousses and the Holy Church of Agios Nikolas (St. Nicholas church).
On the same day, a Vigil was held honouring our sailors at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Myrtidiotissa in Mersinidi, by the Metropolitan of Chios, Psara and Oinousses, Mr. Markos. A few hours earlier, His Grace, baptized the former Methodist Mr. John Joel Isidoros Whitehead, Vice President of the International Propeller Club, who participated in the conference, in the Holy Church of St. Isidore built in the 4th century AD where the tombs of the first martyrs Isidoros and Myropis lay. Dorothea Ioannou, CEO of the American P & I Club, became his godmother.
Important addition to the Forum’s program were the visits both to the Maritime Museum of Chios, where Dimitrios Fafalios, President of Fafalios Shipping and President of INTERCARGO, welcomed the participants and shared with them stories from the long maritime tradition of the island, and to the historical exhibition – Chios Massacre Museum in the Holy Monastery of Agios Minas, which was founded with the donation of the foundation of Athanasios and Marina Martinos. Moreover, light lunch was offered to the participants by the Municipality of Chios at Aghia Fotia Beach, with the presence of the Vice Mayor of Chios, Mr. Konstantinos Verginas.
Moreover, with their presence, honoured us: Spyros Tarassis, Vice President of Intercargo, George Alexandratos, Vice President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping and President of the Piraeus Marine Club, Pantelis Vatoussis, Commander (HCG) Central Port Authority of Chios, Katerina Peppa, Director of the Union of Greek Shipowners, Costis Frangoulis, President of the International Propeller Club, Port of Piraeus, Elpi Petraki, President of WISTA Hellas, Costas Verginas, Deputy Mayor of Chios, Yiannis Lygnos, President of the Association of Friends of Oinousses.