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My personal letter to you – about MaritimeKnowhow

The shipping industry is a very complex and hazardous industry and it is commonly accepted that the rules that apply to other branches of business don't apply to shipping.

In my career as a master, professor and ship owner I was privileged to acquire a large amount of nautical knowledge, both theoretical and practical. As a ship owner I gained a lot of experience but above all, I also learned that in shipping one can sometimes make a lot of money but than one can also quickly loose a lot of money.

Unfortunately, quite often, the money is quicker lost than made.

Why would then, anybody want to buy a ship and run it commercially. Either because one loves ships and the sea or, and this may be the most logic if not the only answer: "to make money". I would even say, " to make a lot of money".

It is a well known fact that, if the owner of a business doesn't make money, his workers or employees want earn money either. So, if a ship owner doesn't make money, or if he looses money, he will soon be out of business and his crews or his office staffs will soon be out of an income too. And no shipping company can survive or be ran that way.

The days of a shipping company being owned by a single person or just a few persons are long gone by. Today, ships are so large and so costly that they are nearly always owned by large financial companies such as multinationals and banks, with no real love for the sea or for the ships as such, but for the money they can make with them.

In general, it is accepted that in a business, money can be earned or a profit can be made in the two following ways:
  1. Increase the business by selling its products at a higher price or by charging more for the services offered (e.g. higher freight rates). 

  2. By cutting on the expenses;

In the shipping industry, the freight rates are usually established by freight markets according to the system of offer and demand on the world markets and on which owners have little or no impact. The owner is consequently hardly in a position to ask higher rates than the freight market offers. Most of the time, the owner can only increase his profit by cutting down on his expenses (e.g. fewer crew members or office staff, cheap crews, less maintenance, fewer or no gratuities, lower fuel consumptions by applying slow steaming, the right choice of loading and/discharging harbour , etc.).

Fortunately, there are rules and regulation (national and international) which impose minimum standards to ship owners to ensure that the safety of their ships and of their crews is guaranteed at all times. Thanks to these rules and regulations, owners who are eager to increase their profits may not do this at the expense of the ship's safety or of the crew's safety and well being.

Ships are often compared to "milk cows" because anybody involved in the shipping business wants to make money at the owner's expense.
Everybody active in the shipping business (crews, office staffs, agencies, stevedores, brokers, etc.) should therefore contribute to keep the running costs of a ship to a minimum without, of course, jeopardising its safety.

It is therefore of the utmost importance that all parties involved should have a solid knowledge and experience of shipping operations, administration, law and related techniques, so that, due a lack of knowledge or experience, unnecessary expenses would be made.
This knowledge can mainly be acquired by proper education in properly recognized establishments such as Schools of Navigation, Schools for Business, Law Colleges , etc. and by acquiring experience on the field from his peers.

Often, one gets confronted with situations where swift and adequate decisions are to be made in the interest of the owner.

On the other hand, the shipping industry is so complex and changeable that anybody involved in decision making should constantly have a vast encyclopedia at hand which encompasses all the knowledge he constantly needs, together with the necessary "tips and tricks" mainly bases on other people's experience.
This Site has been compiled to give anybody involved in shipping business easy and quick access to anything he needs to know so he or she can take the right decision and make his or her work more pleasant, profitable and safe.

Modern communication and computer technique have made this possible, by putting most of the shipping knowledge and the answers to most of its question at the end of a "mouse click".
A large variety of subjects, comprising thousands of pages, are now accessible through an extensive index which can be accessed on this Site.

Some of the subjects covered are: Check Lists, Company Personnel, Company Instructions, Emergency Procedures, Formalities on Arrival and Departure, Pollution, Quality Management, Shipping Companies including Industrial Carrier, Liner Company, Tramping Company, etc ,. Security/Safety including, Classification Societies, AMVER, etc., Persons and businesses related to Shipping such as Ship Owner, Shipping Agent, Forwarder, Transport Broker, etc., Shipping Operations such as Charter parties, Bills of Lading, Insurance, etc., Shipping Costs, World Fleet, Commodities Carried by Sea, Shipping Law, Shipping Problems such as Drugs and Alcohol, etc., etc..

More in depth knowledge can be found in the vast number of textbooks which are available in most specialized bookstores. Click also on Bibliography to see the list of books used in compiling this Site.
All links are specifically oriented toward the maritime or nautical profession.
The categories in which they are put should make it easy to find what one is looking for without any loss of valuable time.

Although thousands of links have been inserted, we are convinced that they only represent a drop in the ocean. We are therefore constantly scanning the web for more links, and we realise that we may never be able to come across all links available on the web.
For this reason, we ask for your cooperation.

If you feel that a new category should be inserted, please let us know. If you want your own website included in our database, let us know too.

Just send us an email at Maritimeknowhow and give us your website address together with your e-mail address and any other information you would like to include.

Regular updates of this Site will ensure users to have the latest information at hand at all time.

Capt. Pierre Deseck, MSc, FNI
Hon. Prof; School of Navigation