My own journey into the world of ships and shipping began when I was very young. Every summer my parents would drive down to Portsmouth and catch the ferry across to France for our summer holidays. I was enthralled by the sailings across the English Channel on the ships owned by the long gone ferry company Townsend Thorsesen. I was a member of the “Junior Sailors Club” and, every time we travelled, I would get another stamp in my Discharge Book. Once the book was full of stamps, I was entitled to visit the bridge of the ferry and that was it, I was hooked.
I imagined myself sitting up there on the bridge of a ship, looking out at the ocean ahead of me, being in command of my own destiny. From these early days of my travelling career I sought out as much information as I could find. I would write to ferry and other shipping companies to get as much information as I could (remember, these were the days before the internet).
When I was old enough to go away to sea I joined the shipping company P&O Containers (later P&O Nedlloyd) and spent 7 years travelling the oceans and exploring the continents. Eventually I tired of being away from home all the time and came ashore to work as a Stowage Coordinator for P&O Nedlloyd. I remained in that role for almost 5 years, even as P&O Nedlloyd was swallowed up by Maersk Line. Since then, I have spent another 8 years working on projects that are closely related to Stowage Coordination. Since about 2006, I have also become involved in the world of software optimization for stowage, co-authored three papers with the Danish IT University.
This is just the background about me but this blog is primarily about Stowage Coordination. However, in order to tell the story of stowage, one has to tell the story of the container shipping industry. It’s an industry that has transformed our lives but is largely unknown. What is even more unknown, even to those inside the industry, is the Stowage Coordinator. These are a small group of highly talented individuals who spend their days ensuring that each and every container is loaded onto the correct vessel, in the correct way and that the vessel is in a safe and seaworthy condition as they ply their trade across the globe.
They liaise with the vessels, terminals, internal departments, agents, pilots, bunkering companies, the list goes on. Simply put, without the stowage coordinator, today’s mega vessels would not be sailing anywhere and you would not be getting your next iPhone!
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