News | 25 June 2021


"We have an obligation to ensure jobs and careers" - Kasper Friis Nilaus, CEO Svitzer

I am not a seafarer. I do not pretend to truly understand what it would mean to spend the majority of my adult life at sea. The pride seafarers feel and the challenges they face – when missing out on time with family and loved ones, battling high seas and stormy weather or working with an inherent operational risk every day. I admire and respect them. The safety, health and wellbeing of seafarers is close to my heart. As CEO of Svitzer, employing 3,600 dedicated colleagues at sea, and as a human being.

Today, around 90% of the world’s food, fuel, crude and manufactured goods are transported at sea by more than 1.5 million seafarers. In other words, seafarers run large parts of the global economy. Recent events, such as the still ongoing global pandemic and the incident in the Suez Canal where an enormous container vessel got stuck and paused global trade for one nerve-racking week, have put a much needed spotlight on the essential role that seafarers play. A role that must never be underestimated.

Recently, I had the great pleasure to go onboard one of our tugs in Amsterdam – something that was way overdue because of COVID-19 and something that I have missed dearly. As always, I find the opportunity to speak with the crew and experience first-hand their dedication and pride in what they do, inspiring. What they do truly matters – and so does what we do to support them.

Due to technology, innovation, and digitisation the maritime industry is undergoing massive and rapid changes – and the changes are also impacting towage. While I feel confident that seafarers will remain crucial to global trade for decades, there is no doubt that their role will change, already in the years to come. If I were to point to a single key obligation we have as shipowners and employers, it is to make sure we future proof the maritime workforce. Training and upskilling to address the technological innovation across the industry and providing opportunities to move between sea and shore are important elements. As employers we have an obligation to work relentlessly to secure safe and compliant operations as well as rewarding jobs and careers at sea, now and in the future. In close collaboration with crews, unions, customers and other industry parties.

Our seafarers remain the core and the heart of our towage business and I salute each one of them today, for their hard work, their dedication, and their commitment. Day of the Seafarer is an opportunity to put seafarers at the centre of everyone’s attention – which we should – but the attention must not be a one-day event. Let’s make sure we all work together across industries, borders and cultures to build a fair future for anyone working at sea, every day and everywhere.

Stay safe!

Kasper Friis Nilaus, CEO Svitzer