For this month's 'Tales from the Sea' story we got a truly unique opportunity to go onboard the vessel M/V Fjordvik - a cement carrier built in 1976 in Hamburg.
When coming to the ship we were met by Captain Mirosław Krawczyk - a Captain with a great passion for both his crew and ship! To be taken onboard a ship of her age is very special, and when walking around you feel the old spirit with wooden walls with classic paintings on them and big cabins - at least compared to newer standards.
As the Captain was showing us around his enthusiasm about the ship shined through as he sees the ship of the perfect mix when old and new come together to create, as he said: 'Something really beautiful'.
New is not good and old is not bad
- or the other way around! Which were his words when talking about the working ethics onboard M/V Fjordvik. The ship is owned by SMT Shipping - an interesting company according to Captain Mirosław. The company was founded 25 years ago with a strong mindset of building a company based on hard work, high standards and a loyal bond between employer and workers. The business strategy was to buy vessels which were sent scrubbing and make them profitable once again. Back then, the owner was Dutch and political changes were happening in Poland which went from socialism to capitalism which brought with it a mentality of too much labor, thus many workers were fired in Polish companies - including shipyards. The mentality was not as it is today where we shift between jobs, no, they were 'born' in the Shipyards, worked there for 25 years and wanted to die in the Shipyards. The previous Dutch owner saw an opportunity in the Polish workers and offered them jobs, with good conditions. The vessels, which were originally sent for scrubbing, started performing, making money and the company was able to sell the ships with a profit. 'This story amazes me' says Captain Mirosław 'I have met people, who 25 years later are still working in the company and they have grown to be incredibly skilled and hard working. In the end, both the company and the workers ended up winning!'
This mentality of hard work and seeing opportunities, when others didn't, have inspired the Captain in his management of the crew onboard the ship. Like M/V Fjordvik he sees profit where old and new meet and claims that he has seen the best coorporation when an old generation is working with the new! 'Once we have damaged one of our screw conveyors, which needed fixing and I put together a team of two people to repair it - an experienced man and a young apprentice. Both went into the work with a skeptical mindset, but after having found their way, they accomplished amazing results and have been a solid team ever since' Captain Mirosław said with a smile on his face.
Throughout the visit, the stories went on about the 'old and new' working together. A general theme with both as an old ship working in a new world sailing with an old generation working together with the new.