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Maersk readies Filipino crew for methanol-fueled vessels

Maersk readies Filipino crew for methanol-fueled vessels
Carmela I. Huelar May 17, 2023

A.P. Moller-Maersk has started upskilling Filipino seafarers with its groundbreaking order of 19 state-of-the-art methanol-enabled vessels aimed at "greening" its entire operations.

The international shipping giant partnered with GigaMare Inc. to train Filipino seafarers in its Subic Bay facility. They will all form part of the crew who will man the first methanol-fueled ships of Maersk.

The selected crew will undergo basic and advanced training on the Code of Safety for Ships using gases or other low-flashpoint fuels (IGF Code training) and methanol.

Maersk will receive its first methanol-powered vessel this summer, and more will come in 2024 and 2025 which will facilitate its desire to "green" its entire operations by 2040.

In an interview recently with The Manila Times, Maersk owners representative Gunger Ates said that the first batch of trainees would form part of the team that would be onboard the first of these ships in July.

"We are going to deploy the Filipinos on board our methanol-fueled vessels and they will be joining the officers already trained in Finland," he said.

Ates added that the company was keen on starting such training right away for others, especially Filipinos who comprise at least 40 percent of the Maersk fleet.

He said that the training for their Filipino officers and crew reflects Maersk's commitment to greener shipping and the involvement of Filipino seafarers in their bid to preserve the oceans while providing continuous employment.

Cyrus Taclob of Maersk Filipinas said they were excited to see their dedicated seafarers coming together to learn more about methanol as a marine fuel in Maersk's journey toward net zero emissions in 2040.

Maersk has placed in order 19 vessels with the first one to be launched soon — and able to operate on green methanol.

Green methanol is deemed the best scalable green fuel solution for this decade.

Gigamare's President and CEO Jari Ullakonoja said that the IGN/methanol training held under the auspices of Gigamare marks a very significant start of additional training and courses soon to be a requirement as global shipping braces for decarbonization regulations.

The delivery of the new vessels has also opened more job opportunities for Filipino seafarers.

Maersk's move to transform the company to green energy will cover all its areas of operations that will offer solid, strength-in-depth support to customers who are either starting or already in the advanced stage of their decarbonization initiatives.

Currently, the global transport and logistics industry produces 3.5 billion tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year. Maersk has a share of about 1 percent of the total transport and logistics emissions recorded.

The chemical industry has primarily focused on reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions or those that are directly controlled by the company itself, such as production and operation emissions. Some of the players in the industry have also shifted their focus to include Scope 3 emissions like company supply chains and that involves supply chain management.

Maersk has been honing its offerings so that the company can be integral to the reduction of Scope 3 emissions for its partners.

This new development bodes well for the Philippines and will greatly reinforce the initiative of the government to propel the growth of the Philippine maritime industry, anchored on the persistence and perseverance of Filipino seafarers.

In February this year, during the launching of the Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) 2023-2028, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the country had the major ingredient to become a maritime power in the Asia-Pacific region.As a starter, through the intervention of the President, the Philippines was able to secure the nod of the European Community to recognize the documents issued by the country's maritime industry allowing Filipino seafarers to continue serving onboard European-flagged vessels.

With this already in the bag, and with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set to release its own "white list" wherein the Philippines is again expected to be included, it will be smooth sailing for Filipino seafarers as the country slowly implements corrective and proactive measures to further upgrade the status of its seafaring and manning industry, which contributes about $6 billion-$7 billion in remittances annually.