Far East movement

“V. Ships offers an extensive portfolio of services to ship owners and other buyers within the global marine market,” states Satnam Kumar, managing director of V. Ships Singapore. “In addition to ship management and technical support in areas including new building plan approvals, supervision and repair services, the company also provides insurance, travel and training programmes as well as commercial services like structured financial support projects.”

Formed in 1984, V. Ships is a leading supplier of independent ship management and related marine services to the global shipping industry. Managing a crew roster of 24,000 staff, it supplies services to a fleet of more than 1000 vessels. V. Ships’ core ship management and manpower programmes are managed by its three operating divisions, V. Ships Ship Management, V. Ships Leisure and its Manpower Services, each of which is overseen by a corporate executive team.

V. Ships’ Ship Management division is the body responsible for the supply of ship services to its fleet of client vessels. The managed fleet comprises a range of vessel types including the main asset classes, tankers, bulk carriers and containerships, as well as many specialised vessels such as offshore units. V. Ships Leisure is a passenger ship service, the only one of its kind that provides both integrated deck and engine management alongside hotel services. Its service portfolio also includes cruise ship conversions and refurbishment management.

The Manpower Services division supports the whole business by being the largest supplier of marine personnel globally with its employees stationed both ashore and at sea working for a vast number of marine operations. The company places an emphasis on providing a ‘lifetime of careers’ to its sea-going staff, ensuring opportunities are offered to those who wish to secure future office-based roles in one of the many activities V. Ships participates in.

“In the early 1990s the company opened an office in Singapore as part of a business strategy to create an extensive network of offices in close proximity to the major shipping centres,” explains Satnam. “The core business continues to be ship management, encompassing technical and crew management services, however the range of services in Singapore has increased in recent years to include agency services.

“The Singapore office provides its support to a fleet of more than 60 vessels for clients that are spread across Asia and other parts of the world. One of the company’s strengths is that its ship management quality is assured irrespective of the type of vessel. The majority of the Singapore fleet comprises of tanker tonnage, large container vessels, bulk carriers and an increasing number of offshore vessels as that industry is growing strongly.”

The business of manpower management is clearly one of the core elements of V. Ships’ operations and the company aims to maintain a high standard of employment when recruiting individuals: “V Ships’ end-to-end approach encompasses the selection, recruitment, engagement and management of its staff. This includes carrying out performance appraisals of officers and cadets aided by a network of offices located in all the major strategic supply countries, the Philippines, India, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, to name just a few,” says Satnam.

“V. Ships sets its own standards which meet regulatory requirements and customer needs across a wide range of vessel types,” Satnam continues. “Its recruitment process focuses on finding and retaining staff who offer experience, expertise and, most critically, are looking to further develop their capabilities when both ashore and afloat. This same process also encompasses the recruitment of deck and engineer cadets.”

A number of recent initiatives have underpinned V. Ships Singapore’s growth, as Satnam is keen to highlight: “These include the opening of a satellite office in Chennai, gaining an expanded presence in the offshore sectorand growing the services the company supplies to Chinese ship-owners that are actively seeking to expand their own activities in global shipping. This particular initiative includes ajoint venture with China Shipping Group to manage large, post-panamax container vessels.

“Aside from China, the wider Asian region offers considerable growth opportunities.Indonesia is one such country that V. Ships has served for many years and is now a priority area following the recent establishment of a representative office. Similar resources are also in the process of being established in other Asian marine markets.”

Another, different example of such initiatives is the recently hosted the V. Ships Seminar, an important event held in Tokyo covering current issues facing the shipping industry. On 10th March 2011, 43 different companies attended the seminar to listen and discuss the problems of security including vetting issues and privacy challenges faced in piracy-prone seas.

Being one of the largest companies of its kind, the width and depth of experience and expertise on offer and the broad portfolio of services that can be provided have helped V. Ships grow into the strong, fruitful company it is today, but as Satnam enthuses, its growth and market position is underpinned by customer service: “Each managing director and his or her management team focuses on understanding the specific needs of the client and on finding ways to add value to their businesses.

“The end result of these activities is the building of a strong relationship with the client, regardless of the market conditions. Inevitably in such a high-risk business, problems and incidents happen, so V. Ships’ ethos is to ensure the client gets all the help needed to find the right solution. The company continually looks for new ways to service its customers and there are several projects under development that gobeyond the traditional cost-plus way of working. V. Ships’ experience of managing a large fleet and its diverse expertise enables it to constantly deliver on performance based contracts and it actively welcomes clients that share its belief in a transparent and mutually beneficial approach to ship management.”

Since the onset of the global recession, the ship management business has certainly been a challenging environment and as such companies like V. Ships are maintaining a cautious approach to activities: “Many clients have faced severe market conditions due to over-tonnaging and this atmosphere has been exacerbated by ‘wild card’ issues like the growing threat of piracy,” Satnam reveals. “Regardless of these challenges, V. Ships has been able to grow its business through various initiatives and its approach to maintaining client relationships. This has stood the company in goodstead and helped it to maintain its market leading position.”

As its world fleet continues to expand and industry concerns about fleet utilisation levels, asset values and freight earnings persist, demand for ship management and related marine services will continue to grow: “Growth will be guided by a clear strategy that focuses on leveraging further the core ship management activities, expansion in Asia and in key sectors such as offshore,” Satnam says before pointing out a ‘one-stop solution’ policy V. Ships Singapore is moving forward with. “With unrivalled access to arguably the largest and most diverse seafarers pool in the world, the company is able to undertake lump sum management contracts and this is something that has received considerable interest from all its stake holders.

“The company’s business model focuses on organic growth and it foresees consolidation in the market service sector, particularly in Asia and this will further the ongoing efforts of V. Ships Singapore to further strengthen its position in such key markets,” Satnam concludes.

Recently hosted well-attended conference on security

Part of one of the largest ship management groups in the world

Expanding its presence in the offshore sector