Programmed for success

Starting life with just one vessel in 2005, today UniSea Shipping B.V. has grown into an all round shipping company with a fleet of eight vessels, ranging from 3800 to 8200 deadweight (dwt). This fleet, which is owned by UniSea, is operated from the company’s main office in Sneek, Holland. The company offers complete technical, nautical, ISM/ISPS and crew management, for all types of vessels. In-house experience on ro-ro, container, chemical tankers, as well as general cargo and bulk vessels contributes to the reliability of UniSea’s onshore operations. Commenting on UniSea’s fleet Gerald Jager, general manger and company founder, says: “In 2007 we sold our first vessel, a 3800 dwt ship on MGO, and at the same time were in the midst of new-building four 3800 dwt vessels of the same type however equipped with shaft generator and machinery on HFO380. We also began construction on our 7200 dwt series, which have now been in operation for almost three years.”Crew Management

Although based in the Netherlands, UniSea’s vessels cover a worldwide market, with a particular focus on transatlantic crossings. “All of our vessels are designed to travel long distances and this is reflected in our major markets which stretch from Iceland to South Africa, as well as South America to West Africa, and some further afield activities in Australia and Singapore. Typically our vessels will carry several types of cargo in one trip, for example carrying project cargo from the UK to Brazil, then taking bagged rice or sugar using twin-decks from Brazil to West Africa, and finally transporting bulk cargoes back to Europe stored on twin-deck weather hatches. Through these three projects the whole capacity of the vessel is utilised, due to their ability to be converted from project cargo to twin-deck to bulk carrier in a few hours.  We are specialists in this type of market, where the flexibility and design of these vessels is a real strength,” elaborates Gerald.

As part of this design all vessels within the UniSea fleet are equipped with the latest navigational and technical equipment, such as cranes. The engines run on a low-sulphur fuel, with fully automatic fuel separators and hold International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) certificates. The bridge is ergonomically designed and equipped with ECDIS sea chart systems and the latest GMDSS equipment, with the capacity to have internet and email facilities on board.

The vessels themselves are not the only strength of UniSea. Gerald describes how the company ensures high performance levels and efficiency throughout its operations: “Maintaining a good relationship with the crew is vital to the efficient running of the company. As a family owned business, we want to impart these values such as co-operation and close communication, throughout all aspects of the company. We have short and direct lines between management and the vessels, we have management visiting onboard as frequently as possible, as well as the officers and crew visiting the office. This enables us to remain abreast of any issues or developments from the crew’s perspective and vice versa. To support this we employ an experienced fixed crew to ensure that our vessels, and cargoes, are in the hands of individuals who know and care about them.” UniSea also has long-term contacts in place with several of its major partners providing a strong and stable base for the company to operate from.

Currently UniSea is beginning to expand its capabilities into overseeing the construction, financing and crewing of new vessels for clients. The company has already implemented a separate crewing department to undertake crewing services for other vessels, an area where UniSea’s close contacts with embassies and other major corporations are particularly beneficial. Another major investment is the development of UniSea’s own computer-based maintenance and financial control programme. “This programme runs both onboard vessels and in the office in real time, incorporating all of our stocks, orders, vessel and crewing expenses, and ISM and ISPS information. By utilising this system, not only is our book keeping is updated every day, we are also able to monitor our business’ ingoings and outgoings, preventing any unexpected surprises at the end of the financial year. The programme can also be implemented into other vessels, providing ship-owners with an overview of their situation on a day-to-day basis. With other programmes on the market specifically targeted at maintenance, crewing or finances, we self-developed our system to incorporate all of this in one package,” explains Gerald.

Maintenance is particularly important within the marine industry, with UniSea investing substantial amounts of time and money into its vessels to ensure they remain in optimum operating condition. This process is facilitated by UniSea’s software programme through incorporating all of the technical and deck components of its vessels. This information is then used to calculate a maintenance scheme based on the age and operational hours of each vessel, which helps to reduce unscheduled maintenance through breakdowns.

Turning his attention towards the future ambitions of UniSea, Gerald concludes: “Looking ahead, we have the capability to increase our operations in managing client-owned vessels, as well as looking into expanding our own fleet. However due to the current economic climate the market has become much more challenging when looking to secure financial funding than in the past. In the future we are looking to extend vessel ownership and our services to other shipping companies, as many are not concerned with the quality of the ship as long as they meet the capacity they need for their cargo. Our ships are built in shipyards in Holland to the highest European standards, which enable us to provide higher performance levels. Certainly from a commercial perspective we believe that having quality vessels is a significant benefit in terms of profitability, compared to having a higher quantity of low-grade ships.”

Complete vessel management services

Expanding capabilities into new-builds and crewing

Self-developed computer programme