Air Freight News

96th Propeller Club Convention Highlights the Power of Greek Shipping

The 96th Annual Propeller Club convention, held in Athens, Greece between September 20th and 22nd, demonstrated the continued power of Greek shipping. The convention was hosted by the Propeller Club of Piraeus under the leadership of President Costis Frangoulis and General Secretary Danae Bezantakou.

Melina Travlos, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) was recognized as Maritime Person of the Year

“International Propeller Club”

The International Propeller Club of the United States convention was called to order by President Jim Patti and supported by Executive Vice President Joel Whitehead. As a reflection of its increasingly international composition, the organization will now be known as the International Propeller Club.

This was reflected in the Propeller Club awards:

  • The Port of Piraeus club was recognized by the International President’s Award for Excellence
  • Geraldo Tiedemann, Port of Bilbao (Spain) was recognized as the Propeller Club Person of the Year,
  • Melina Travlos, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) was recognized as Maritime Person of the Year
  • The Port of Seattle club was recognized as the Propeller Club Port of the Year

The Role Of Greek Shipping

Today, Greek shipowners control 5,514 vessels, or 21% of the global fleet in deadweight ton (dwt) terms, according to the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS).

The UGS reported that current new shipbuilding orders from Greek shipowners total 173 ships. The number of new orders is greater than last year’s 104 ship orders.

The Greek fleet composes:

  • 32% of the world’s oil tanker fleet
  • 25% of the world’s bulk carrier fleet
  • 22% of the world’s LNG fleet.

The speakers at the conference discussed:

  • The importance of Greek ports and shipping to provide LNG supplies for Europe so as to mitigate the impact of cutbacks in energy supplies from Russia.
  • The challenges of imposing sanctions on shipping to punish Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.
  • The importance of the Northern Greek port of Alexandroupolis in expediting military supplies in the defense of Ukraine.
  • The Alexandroupolis port is situated near the borders with Bulgaria and Turkey with a floating gas storage and regasification unit in the pipeline and could operate as an energy hub for Central Europe.
  • The increasing role of digitization in shipping.
  • And the efforts of Greek shipowners to decarbonize their fleets.

Modernization Of Operations

The impact of digitization, decarbonization and a more robust regulatory environment poses new challenges to Greek shipping companies. Already, as panelists at the Propeller Club convention described, digitization has become a hot topic. Executives and managers already monitor engine performance, fuel consumption and emissions.

Some companies are planning to install cameras in the engine rooms of their vessels to keep a better eye on operations. Weather forecasting and the use of machine learning are providing vessel operators with better real time data to avoid storms, hurricanes, and typhoons.

The company StormGeo was mentioned by several people as being a leading provider of weather forecasting services.

Big data is also used for inventory management and better just-in-time-maintenance.

Amelia Rocos, Senior Risk Management Analyst with the Diaplous Group, based in Piraeus, was a panelist at the conference and later told AJOT that she sees digitization as a major growth area in shipping and one that will attract younger tech savvy workers to the industry. Already, she says, risk management has benefited from data and the digitization of shipping operations. Rocos, herself, is only 24 years old.

There are also changes going on to the old family-based operation that was common at many shipping companies. More are hiring people based on their abilities, rather than family connections, as exemplified by the changes required for digitization.

Rising Role Of Women

Another major development is the growing number of women coming into the Greek shipping industry formerly heavily male-dominated.

Women were represented in all the Propeller panels and are increasingly leading Greek shipping companies as the election of Melina Travlos, President of the UGS demonstrated. Travlos became the first female president of the Union of Greek Shipowners in its 106-year history.

Travlos heads vehicle carrier owner and operator Neptune Lines and dry bulk operator, Neptune Dry Management.

Neptune Lines was founded by Travlos’ father, Nikos, in 1975 and today operates a fleet of 18 car and truck carrier vessels.

Travlos founded Neptune Dry Management five years ago, which has a fleet of five bulkers.

Travlos is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, a Member of the Greek National Committee of DNV-GL Classification Society. She is also Member of the Executive Committee of Malta International Shipowners Association and served as the Honorary Consul of Denmark in Piraeus.

Maritime Education

The keynote speaker at the Propeller Club convention was Peter Economides, Brand Strategist at Felix BNI, whose topic was “IMAGINE … The Full Potential of Shipping On Future Generations In Greece” that included a video demonstrating the role of shipping in the Greek supply chain.

Robert Hawn, Vice President, Maritime Affairs, West Gulf Maritime Association, and a Propeller Club Regional Vice President, told AJOT that the Economides video was the type of public education that should be emulated by U.S. ports and maritime stakeholders:

“Our industry is invisible to most people. The Port of Houston is a driving force in the State of Texas for all the economy and nobody knows it.”

Economides has worked for Apple, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Heineken, Audi, Volkswagen, and with the International Olympic Committee which developed a branding campaign to give Greece a new positive image following the negative publicity and high unemployment that Greeks suffered during the economic crisis of a decade ago.

One of the efforts that Economides has publicized is that of Irene Notias, Co-founder and Director of Project Connect who developed the ‘Adopt a Ship’ program and was a luncheon speaker at the Propeller Club convention.

Echoing the Economides pro-Greece marketing campaign, Project Connect was established in 2012 "to help enhance young adults employability in Greece and minimize the Brain Drain, promoting excellence and work pride values …”

According to Project Connect, the ‘Adopt a Ship’ program has increased awareness of the role of shipping in Greek schools:

“The “Adopt a Ship” program connects primary and junior high school pupils with seafarers, aiming to educate youngsters about the seafaring profession and the maritime sector … Throughout this period, pupils communicate with the crew weekly and gain first-hand knowledge of life at sea by sharing their experiences. Students get the opportunity to "travel" with the crew by tracking their voyage on a world map and engaging in interactive learning activities.”

The program is directed toward “primary school (third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades) and to junior high school (first, second and third grades) and is introduced in the context of different courses…”

Courses include:

  • Life onboard vessels
  • Cargo carried by ships
  • Trading patterns
  • Geography

The goals of the program are to “highlight the importance of the contributions seafarers and shipping companies make to the world and society”, “enhance students’ knowledge about seafarers, ships, shipping, geography, culture and commerce,” and “offer opportunities to the young generation to pursue a maritime career”.

In the U.S. Maryanne Richards, Propeller Club International Vice President of Student Ports, is the Director of Career Services at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Richards told AJOT that Massachusetts Maritime Academy is reaching out to high schools to emphasize the importance of the maritime industry and additional disciplines such as emergency management, marine biology, anti-terrorism, and energy management.

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis

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