Ayse Asli Basak: "Be ready for the new era in the shipping"
Co-Founder of SheFarers Platform, Capt. Ayse Asli Basak explained the pandemic situation and its affects on sefarers in her article for India's top leading maritime publiciation, Sea & Cost Magazine.
Ayse Asli Basak, who is on the list of "10 Women to Watch 2019" selected by YoungShip Oslo, published a new article for India's top leading Maritime Magazine owned by Amit Kumar CEO and Editor in chief.
"The pandemic situation has changed our lifestyles as much as the work styles. Some of the maritime companies closed their offices around the world and started to work from home especially for the jobs which can be controlled remotely. Seafarers have still been on board for months after their long contracts and can not be repatriated due to travel restrictions. Most of the conferences, fairs and meetings are cancelled or went on online due to the pandemic. It is not a long period, but we have a huge amount of changes in our working styles.
The unseen ‘viral nightmare’ started as of March 2020 in Turkey. As an in-house Port Captain of Mid-Ship Group Istanbul office, normally I travel to European and Mid-Eastern countries from Istanbul to supervise the loading-discharging operations of steel scrap and coal cargoes on behalf of our customers. I am also responsible for the operations of the chartered vessels under our exclusive brokerage. March has changed everything. We have started to work from home which is still going on and the openings are not clear due to the uncertainty of the pandemic control in Turkey. When our office is closed, we even did not know that it will take time for months to go back to normal!
Working from home was like a dream of every executive desire to but I am sure that it is not under uncertainty. The first days at home was quite stressful because of the adaptation process. Everyday we were following the news and the new cases, deaths while we were trying to survive by going to supermarket, eating, cooking at home by alone or with family and of course we need to work. The weekends in Turkey between April to end of May for 2 months were all restricted to go outside with lockdown. But we needed to follow our vessels trading all around the world which are the main part of international supply chain system.
At the end of May 2020, I needed to travel to Egypt to supervise a vessel’s discharging operation. However due to lockdown and travel restrictions it was not possible. We needed to designate a local Port Captain and follow the vessel’s operation remotely but always in minute-to minute and timely reporting. It was a different experience at all and showed us that we can adapt ourselves to remote work easily if we really require to. It was like that our jobs are being transformed into another type due to the pandemic. We will experience soon that it is an advantage or disadvantage. I always try to be optimistic about the situations and see the ‘Bright side’ of the stories. In a short period, I believe that the artificial intelligence and remote controlling systems will be more effective in the maritime industry and here is some of my future-tellings for the industry:
In Norway, most of the ferries are autonomous vessels. Of course the vessels have Captains and Engineers! The innovation does not mean that the industry won’t need officers or engineers any more. The description of the tasks will be changed and the officers and engineers will need more technological talents than before. My suggestion for young talent of maritime sector, please learn a software language like R-design or Python and develop your data analysis skills on board. You can manage the vessels from ashore shortly, be ready!
During the pandemic, some of the Korean ports started to work with AI (Artificial Intelligence) systems and manage the gantry cranes in a container terminal from digital remote systems without any person in the port. This is a milestone for the port management and I believe in short future most of the ports will adopt such systems by seeing it is more cost effective to operate. But again, the innovation does not mean that it will cause an increase of unemployment, the people who develop new talents will be the winners of port management too.
Chartering 2.0 or directly 4.0?
Circulating the cargoes of the exclusives, fixing the vessels are still based on “Personal relations” between the customers and the service providers. I see that there are some softwares which match the cargo owners and ship owners but the consumer’s behaviours are still old fashioned. Chartering 2.0 means matching on online with manned system, however why don’t we directly pass to 4.0 and fix the vessels with AI systems? I don’t mean that brokers in new normal will be the AIs but as said before the ship brokers will need to add new talents to themselves. Let’s think about it.
Optimizing vessel operations
The new normal in vessel’s operations also will change our mentality to ask question of “Is this really necessary?” especially for the traditional works! Optimization is a huge topic to discuss. Chartering operators, post fixtures of ship owning companies and brokers must be well aware of doing less old-fashioned routine work in order to focus on more innovation and diverse maritime fields. If an AI can do it, better AI let it to do! Then we can focus on analyzing our digital data which is the part of big data and can set up our blockchain system to see the new trade attributes after the pandemic. In short, let’s start this by optimizing ourselves.
Yes, we are all in this crisis situation. Some of the companies will survive while some of will be bankrupted. In all scenarios, we need to put a short term 5 years and long term 10 years management strategy mostly focused with the innovation in the shipping. Elon Musk is planning to travel to Mars within 5 years period, but If we are still busy with some paperwork, we have a lot to do in the shipping! Let’s indicate our goals for catching up the technology, embrace it and apply it. Therefore, I believe that we need more innovative entrepreneurs in the maritime industry. If you have the financial sources, instead of purchasing a 10 years old vessel and to become a usual ship owner in the market, why don’t you become one of that innovative entrepreneurs?
To conclude, I believe that the darkest part of the night is just before the sunrise. Let’s be aware that the sunrise is just beyond the corner and be ready for the new era in the shipping."
Ayse Asli Basak
Port Captain, Mid-Ship Group LLC
Co-Founder, SheFarers Platform
Capt. Ayse Asli Basak is the Co-Founder of “SheFarers Platform” in Turkey which is non-profit and aims to create awareness on women who work at sea and maritime work fields, to promote their careers on board and ashore. She has High Honour Bachelor Degree in Maritime Transport Engineering from Istanbul Technical University and Master’s degree in International Trade & Logistics Management. She also conducted different academic researches and wrote articles on shipping finance, ship investment, strategic competitiveness of maritime companies, big data, digitalization and interested in recycling, environment protection, innovation and future of the shipping industry.
Source: Sea & Cost Magazine of India