The newly MV Kelt is now preparing her first journey with ship-owners Anton & Nicolet van der Velde of Van der Velde Coasting. They join the project Shore Support in cooperation with Wagenborg and will start sailing mid August. Anton van der Velde (36) finished the maritime school in Delfzijl in 1994 and then started his sailing career. A few years later, his wife Nicolet joined him on board and became part of the crew.
By buying a second-hand vessel in 2004, the Van der Velde’s became ship-owners and named her MV Kelt. Mid 2008, they sold her to presume their dream of building a new vessel, naming her MV Kelt again. The name Kelt originates from Anton’s nickname, given by his fellow students in Delfzijl, for being an admirer of the Celtic lifestyle (after a work-holiday in Ireland). The sailing area is generally North-West Europe and the Mediterranean, from far up the Baltic (St. Petersburg) to the Black Sea (Odessa).
How did you become familiar with Shore Support and what made you decide to join this project?
"Through Wagenborg. We understood that sailing with recent graduated Maritime Officers (Marof) for both disciplines (navigation & engineering) on board short sea vessel became possible by joining the project Shore Support. Vessels with an engine power of less than 750 kW are allowed to sail with a Motorman instead of a Chief Engineer. Therefore a lot of marine engines were reduced to 749 kW. However, there are new rules & regulations in force which prohibit the reducing of engine power, so the project Shore Support seemed to be a solution for us."
Do you see any more advantages of the new concept for the short sea industry?
"We prefer to sail with young crewmembers and want to teach recent graduated Marofs how to deal with responsibility. Also the way of thinking is different; because of his dual position on board, a Marof realizes the consequences on deck by his actions in the engine room more than a Chief Engineer. In the meanwhile, it is quite hard to find a certified motivated Chief Engineer for short sea vessels. We also experience a more convenient watch keeping scheme as result of this arrangement on the Safe Manning Certificate."
What kind of experiences do you have with shore based maintenance?
"Extremely good experience! With both the former vessel as the newly build, we made use of the shore based services of among others eL-Tec, Pon Power, Wärtsilä (even at 2 A.M.) and Radio Holland. In these cases there would not have been a difference between a just graduated Marof or an experienced Chief Engineer. The engine on the new Kelt is a 1249 kW Caterpillar. Also Wagenborg is always prepared to give very good support on technical and organisational level in case of any emergency."
Taking the shore based support in mind, how do you think about the responsibility of the captain?
"The responsibility of the captain will not change in our opinion. The position on the other hand will change to a more managerial role on board. In the course of years I have earned some engineering certificates, not only out of interest but also to understand and cover the support I can give in any event. The only disadvantage is that I lost the validity of these engineering Certificates of Competency as I am a captain now, having a mono-disciplinary function on board."
Did you notice any operational cost reduction by joining Shore Support?
"No, we have not experienced any cost reduction. Contracts for shore based services and maintenance even increased the operational costs of the vessel. The total of crew compensation has not changed significantly since the start of the project."
How do you ’sell’ the project Shore Support and what are the opinions, including yours?
"We have not really been approached by others for the project Shore Support, but occasionally we talk about it with other ship-owners, engineers and interested persons, always in a positive way. We fully agree the current limitation of the project for vessels using fuel MDO/MGO. Engineering duties on vessels with other heavier types of fuel are much more complicated. The project Shore Support is experienced as a great development for the short sea industry and we would like to see the STCW rules & regulations to be amended."