Press Release

The inaugural Hellenic American Maritime Forum was successfully concluded at Megaron Athens, The Banqueting Hall. The aim of this two-day event, for which SAFETY4SEA and SHIPPINGInsight collaborated, is to bring together the Hellenic American Maritime Stakeholders to discuss, network and exchange views and ideas towards a safe, smart, green, optimized, innovative and sustainable shipping industry.


The event was organized by SAFETY4SEA and SHIPPINGInsight having HudsonAnalytix as Headline Partner. Other partners were: ABS, American Club, American Hellenic Hull, Arcadia Shipmanagement Co. Ltd., Bureau Veritas, Cayman Islands Shipping Registry, Dorian LPG, Ecochlor, Future Care, Latsco Marine Management Inc., MacGregor, Marshall Islands Registry, OceanManager, Palau International Ship Registry, PwC, RISK4SEA, SAFETY4SEA Academy, Saracakis Group, SICK AG, SQE MARINE, Subsea Global Solutions LLC, Viswa Group, Volvo Cars and WLPGA (World LPG Association).

Also, the event was supported by: American- Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, A.M.M.I.TE.C, Chios Marine Club, IBIA, INTERCARGO, International Windship Association (IWSA), SNAME, The Greek Section of SNAME, WISTA Hellas, CYMEPA, Green Award Foundation, HELMEPA, NAMEPA, Π.Ε.Π.Ε.Ν, International Propellers Club and Young Shipping Professionals (YSP).

2019 Hellenic American Maritime Forum

Day #1: Technology to shake up maritime industry

On first day, Wednesday 29th of May, the forum opened with wide-ranging discussions on compliance issues expressing optimism that the industry is able to overcome challenges on condition that industry stakeholders promote dialogue and collaboration for creating effective regulation, adapting also to emerging technological developments. The event started with welcome speeches by the organizers – Apo Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA and Carleen Lyden-Walker, Chief Evolution Officer, SHIPPINGInsight – who highlighted the scope of this unique initiative.

Also, the evening on day one of the event, the winners of the first Hellenic American Maritime Awards across eight categories were announced at a gala dinner and award ceremony. The winners are: Viswa Lab for the Innovation Award, Star Bulk Carriers Corp. for the Dry Bulk Operator Award, Panama Maritime Authority for the Maritime Centre Award, Wärtsilä for the Investment in Shipping Award, US Coast Guard for the Guardians of Industry Award, Mrs. Angeliki Frangou, Chairwoman & CEO, Navios Group, for the Visionary Award, Mr. Nicky A. Pappadakis, Past Chairman of Intercargo, for the Maritime Advocate Award and Adm. (USCG Ret) Thad William Allen for the Lifetime Achievement Award.


Session #1: Opening keynote address

Adm. (USCG Ret) Thad William Allen, Senior Executive Advisor, HudsonAnalytix opened the forum and set the tone for the day’s discussions, noting that we are living in a digital age and therefore industry needs to tackle with new and emerging issues. The way we do business is changing because of technology, he said, but expressed his optimism for the future as technology can solve many problems. As globalization continues, at the same time, technology on the one hand facilitates trade but on the other, rises many challenges such as transparency and cyber security. There is much complexity, Adm Allen concluded; therefore, it is of paramount importance to exchange information and address industry’s topics, taking into account the regulatory landscape.


Session #2: Welcome Addresses

The second session set up to discuss about current and future challenges providing the audience with thought provoking debate on meeting industry’s ambitious targets. Speakers included: Simos Anastasopoulos, President, American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, Cynthia Hudson, Board member, NAMEPA, Christiana Prekezes, Executive Co-ordinator, HELMEPA, George Tsavliris, Chairman, CYMEPA, Capt. Dimitrios Mattheou, CEO, Arcadia ShipManagement, & Chairman, GreenAward.

Namely, Mr Anastasopoulos noted that we are living in a period full of complexities, digital transformation is a positive development though. Trader wars have become a concern and the industry in general is facing a period of increased uncertainty as far it concerns regulations.

On her turn, Mrs Hudson, as a board member of NAMEPA, presented in brief the history of this association which was founded 12 years ago, based on the idea of HELMEPA. After 12 years of operation, NAMEPA already counts 200 members which have realised that oceans are resources that we cannot replace and sustainability is the key word.

Later, Mrs. Prekezes talked about HELMEPA’s philosophy insisting on the importance of investing in people in order to keep in track with the challenges. In this context, training can create competence and keep stakeholders motivated.

In an interesting speech, Mr. Tsavliris shared his concerns about the future of shipping and reminded that as an industry, we need to be proactive and transparent. Overall, shipping is a dynamic industry which gives many opportunities to society, he noted.

Concluding the session, Capt. Mattheou said a few words about Green Award Foundation to highlight that reducing GHG emissions from shipping is an international issue of concern. Climate change is about our public health and the protection of human and planet, he noted. Optimism is required for enhanced environmental excellence. We need regulations but everything starts within us, he added.


Session #3: The growing role of the Flag & Coast Guard in international compliance

The day continued with Rear Admiral Agis Anastasakos, Director General for Shipping, Hellenic Coast Guard, Captain Jennifer Williams, Director, Inspections and Compliance (CG-5PC), United States Coast Guard and Gregory V. Evans, Global Director, Safety and Compliance, Cayman Islands Shipping Registry who noted that key priority is to promote dialogue among industry’s stakeholders for facilitating compliance with all rules and regulations.

In particular, Rear Adm. Anastasakos presented the economic value of EU shipping industry as well as statistics and value of the Greek fleet, noting that the quality of greek flag is globally recognised and that greek shipping has proven to be a reliable trading partner.

Then, Cast Williams presented recent initiatives from USCG on the regulatory front, referring to BWMC which is an issue of concern since USCG notes many deficiencies due to inoperable BWTS. She also highlighted that we need to ensure level playing field outside ECAs; in this regard, technology (drones) can be proven very valuable.

Before continuing with questions from the audience, Mr. Evans also discussed of how technology impacts the industry and pinpointed that new technological developments are being led by two main drivers: regulation and cost. Therefore, it is important to keep an open mind and that our maritime legislation is effective and take into account of the new and future technology in a clear and transparent manner.


Session #4: Keynote address

A keynote address by Jorge Barakat Pitty, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Republic of Panama, provided feedback that proves why Panama is considered a leading maritime centre. Mr. Pitty explained how the Panama Maritime Authority is working to ensure compliance with the national legislation of the maritime and inland waters of the Republic of Panama.

As mentioned, the Authority has recently started a verification process by EMSA with a view to confirm that Panama complies with all necessary guidelines and Panamanian competency titles are recognized by EU. This action will open the doors to Panamanian seafarers to European markets which maintain high demands of trained personnel.


Session #5: Running the ship

The event continued with a panel including Theo Baltatzis, General Manager, Technomar Shipping, Dimitris, Patrikios, CEO, Kyklades Maritime Corp., Kostas Vlachos, COO, Latsco Marine Management, Basil Sakellis, Managing Director, Alassia NewShips Management Inc, Georgios E. Poularas, CEO, ENESEL S.A., moderated by Carleen Lyden-Walker, which focused on ship operators’ key challenges.

Specifically, interesting discussions took place where ship operators exchanged their views and provided real feedback on how they have experienced regulations so far. Regarding BWMC, all panelists expressed their concerns as they have felt that many are the technical problems and that this regulation cannot protect the interests of everyone. . Key concerns expressed were crew training, maintenance of the system, and the extra cost. BWM started with good intentions but as shipowners we were trapped, Mr Patrikios commented. ‘Legislation is so intense that we are losing track,’ Mr. Baltazis added.

As far as IMO sulphur cap 2020 is concerned, scrubbers are extremely challenging from technical point of view and from approval point of view, while availability on alternative fuels is also an issue, the speakers mentioned.

With respect to these issues, the speakers highlighted the need for the regulators to know for what kind of thing they regulate, to know shipping and the environment in which systems will operate.


Session #6: View from the bridge

In the last session of day one, Cynthia Hudson, CEO HudsonAnalytix, Kirsi Tikka, Executive Vice President, Global Marine, ABS, Nicky Pappadakis, President Emeritus, INTERCARGO and Adm. (USCG Ret) Thad William Allen, Senior Executive Advisor, HudsonAnalytix presented their views on the emerging topics that need to be considered for a more sustainable future.

They first analyzed the impact of geopolitical disruptions and trade war on global trade and in the future of shipping.  Providing a ‘view from the bridge’ aspect on current issues facing the industry, they moved forward discussing how the regulations can dramatically change shipping of today, stressing that if we have a regulation-driven technology, we need to be able to produce better regulations.

They also commented on how the industry can be able to ‘trap’ more talents, highlighting that the industry should have a better understanding of young people’s vision for the future, in order to attract them in our industry. They also discussed the issue of role models, which should be there to help keep more women in the industry.

All sessions ended with a round table discussion in which the audience exchanged ideas with high level experts of international repute on recent developments. Finally, Apo Belokas and Carleen Lyden Walker, on behalf of organizers, thanked the delegates for their participation, the partners and supporters for their support, the speakers/panellists for their excellent presentations and though provoking discussions and also the organizing team of the event for their contribution towards forum objectives.

Day #2: Addressing industry’s key issues to stay ahead of compliance

The second day of the event placed a spotlight on key safety, environmental and smart shipping challenges that need to be considered in order maritime industry to stay sustainable and competitive.  Discussions on compliance issues were heard while speakers also provided latest updates with respect to BWMC, Sulphur cap, scrubber uptake and fuel options.  On the safety front, the last panel talked about the most common safety failures that continue to make their appearance onboard, highlighting that a cultural change is essential. Also a panel on smart shipping focused on latest disruptive technologies that have affected maritime industry, noting that cyber security issues should not be disregarded.


Panel #1: Environmental Challenges

Dr. John Kokarakis, Chairman, Greek Section, SNAME, talked about the environmental challenges that the shipping industry is facing today. Mr. Kokarakis said that times are critical for shipping because suddenly the attention is focused on ships and what they discharge to the environment. He explained that decarbonisation will be achieved with the use of new technological pathways, while a modest speed reduction will also lead to emissions reduction. As for zero-emissions vessels, Mr. Kokarakis does not believe they will be a reality by 2050, but we will have reduced emissions ships.

Mr. Tom Perlich, Founder and President, Ecochlor Inc shared his opinion on Ballast Water Management. He noted that regulation for ballast water has been a long process, as there was significant amount of resistance from shipowners. However, the regulations have been enacted and shipowners should accept and fully comply with them. He also called owners to choose wisely, and pick a technology that is flexible and easy to apply, adding that training of the crew and office staff will benefit the relationship of shipowners with other actors.

Mr. Sotiris Raptis, Senior Policy Advisor for Environment and Safety, EcoPorts Coordinator, ESPO, talked about the environmental priorities of European ports. He highlighted that we are going to need electricity as it can be one solution for decarbonisation, at least for short sea shipping. Regarding ports, Mr. Raptis mentioned that the main challenge is to ensure the infrastructure is available for shipping, and that technical challenges are properly addressed. However, he stated that EU ports will need 48 billion euros for the next 10 years, to resume their efficient operations.

Mrs. Helena Athoussaki, Head of Sustainability and Maritime, PwC, addressed the matter of green investing. She said that as more investors have questions about how decarbonisation is going to affect them, banks are starting to invest more and more in green shipping. She added that investment portfolios should now include Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) parametres, while a wider financing towards shipping industry can be expected.


Panel #2: IMO 2020 and beyond

Dr. Khorshed Alam, COO, Viswa Group, provided an outline of sulphur 2020 options and alternatives. Dr. Alam supported that ships should continue using HSFO, but with the use of scrubbers. He based this opinion on the fact that with this solution, ships’ systems will remain undisturbed, while scrubber technology has improved and most problems have been eliminated. Regarding alternatives fuels, Mr. Alam stated that stability and compatibility problems are expected.

Mr. Panos Kourkountis, Technical Director, Sea Traders SA, described the measures towards achieving a decarbonized future. He stated that operators have three options to comply with the 2020 sulphur cap: using compliant fuels, the use of scrubbers and not operating scrubber, receiving a flag dispensation. Mr. Kourkountis also talked about speed reduction, saying that speed must not be left unregulated. What is more, slow steaming has significant environmental benefits, but a combination of measures is required to achieve the targets set.

Mr. Christopher Fee, General Manager, Environment and Sustainability, Oldendorff Carriers, talked about the benefits of scrubbers. According to Mr. Fee, vessels running on HSFO in combination with a scrubber, generate cleaner emissions than VLSFOs and MGO. Regarding the additional sulphur amount that is discharged on the oceans by scrubbers, Mr. Fee said that it is negligible. As far as ports are concerned, Christopher Fee said that many of them ban the discharge of scrubbers water due to political reasons, while decision makers in those ports have not been provided with the necessary information.

Mr. Anastasios Tsogkas, Sales Representative, SICK, talked about the Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS). Mr. Tsogkas explained why it is important to measure emissions aboard adding that NOx measurements need to be not only about concentration but also mass flow. Another important fact is that these analyzers can be monitored remotely. Finally, Mr. Tsogkas said that there are type approvals pending for measuring systems, while some statutory rules and guidelines have to be fulfilled.


Panel #3: Exploring Future Fuel options

Mr. Antonis Trakakis, Chief Technology Officer, FORWARD SHIPS, talked about LNG as a fuel. Namely, Mr. Trakakis stated that LNG provides the safest path towards a carbonless future, and there is no reason for the delay of its uptake. What is more, regarding hydrogen, Mr. Trakakis believes that its uptake is obstructed by the lack of safe infrastructure and due to its small energy density, which requires big tanks. Finally, the industry should also consider negative emissions, in the sense of carbon capturing.

Mr. Nikos Xydas, Technical Manager, WLPGA, presented LPG as the new marine alternative fuel. He said that LPG is one of the best solutions to address environmental challenges, while there is also enough LPG in the world to satisfy the fueling needs. In addition, Mr. Xydas mentioned that currently LPG is simpler than LNG, as its cost is less and the necessary infrastructure is everywhere. Regarding the environmental challenges, Patience, Perseverance, and Passion, are the three Ps to address them.

Mr. Dimitrios V. Lyridis, Associate Professor, NTUA, spoke about shipping electrification. He explained that electrification presents many benefits and challenges for the industry. Among the benefits is that, for the time being, electrification can really help small ships in short distances. However, there are some challenges as well. According to Mr. Lyridis, there are technical considerations that still need to be resolved for electrification, such as training, lack of policies and problems with the logistics.


Panel #4: Smart Shipping

Mr. Kevin Humphreys, General Manager, Merchant & Gas Carrier Segment Sales, Wartsila, talked about how smart ships can contribute towards IMO 2030/2050 compliance. Mr. Humphreys said that new technological advancements have increased ships’ efficiency. This in turn has led to emissions and noise reductions. Regarding the future, he expects new business models to occur, changing the supply chain, as transparency will increase as well. Finally, Mr. Humphreys does not expect fully autonomous ships, but enhanced autonomous functioning on board.

Mr. Ulf Siwe, Communication Officer, STM Project, referred briefly to STM Validation project, explaining what benefits provide to European ports; first and foremost, the project facilitates ports in their pathway toward becoming smarter through collaboration. In this context, Mr. Siwe said that although ports used to be in fierce competition, nowadays things have changed. Under STM, all European ports exchange information and share data and they are truly connected. IMO also supports this project which provides better planning and service to customers. Concluding his speech, Mr. Siwe urged industry to promote collaboration and info sharing with partners in order to view radical changes in the maritime industry, just as the STM Validation project has done so far.

Mr. Rajan Vasudevan, CEO, OceanManager provided an overview of smart shipping and augmented intelligence. He highlighted that smart shipping can enhance safety in the industry. Last year, 20,000 casualties took place, which, according to Mr. Vasudevan, could have been avoided with the use of AI. Namely, AI monitors the ship’s various characteristics, in order to provide a real-time safety analysis. These will lead to predictive analytics and conclude to a call to action if necessary, Mr. Vasudevan explained.

Mr. Chronis Kapalidis, Cyber Expert, HudsonAnalytix, stated that smart shipping must be adopted in order for the industry to increase effectiveness, trustworthiness, safety and security. Talking about cyber security, Mr. Kapalidis said that it is the first non-land threat worldwide. In order for the industry to improve in this segment, more investment is needed. However, he added that cyber security is not only IT’s responsibility. Everyone is responsible, from the very top to the very last person in a company.


Panel #5: Safety Challenges

Mrs. Elina Souli, Regional Business Development Director, V.P. – FD&D Manager, The American P&I Club, talked about the cost and exposure to P&I incidents, which has increased substantially. She highlighted that insurer concerns have been impelled by major casualties over recent years, as well as international and local regulation and limitation regimes. Responding to the ever changing risk landscape, insures have used trading surcharges; differential reinsurance rating; and limits placed on quantum of claims recoverability. However, she wondered whether the shipping industry has the capability to prevent disasters.

Capt. Panagiotis Nikiteas, HSQE Manager / DPA / CSO, Maran Dry, talked about the Bulker Management Self-Assessment (BMSA). He noted that BMSA ensures that weaknesses can be detected, however there are few technicalities that must be addressed. Nevertheless, he believes that if BMSA runs properly it will be here to stay. What is more, Capt. Nikiteas explained that charterers need reassurance, and as many of the industry’s tools have failed, BMSA can play a key role.

Capt. Apostolos Skempes, Training Manager, Arcadia Shipmanagement Co. Ltd., outlined ways to prevent offensive or hurtful behavior into the maritime workplace. As he stated, if unwanted behavior is left unchallenged it could lead to stress, lack of motivation, and reduced work performance. For this reason, he urged the industry to take measures and address even minor cases. In this attempt, the one who is making a complaint must not be victimized, and every report should be thoroughly investigated.

Mrs. Panagiota Chrysanthi, DDPA/EMR, Andriaki Shipping Co. Ltd, provided her opinion on safety challenges in the shipping industry, and the crucial role that human factor plays. As noted, from 2012-2016, 75% accidents were due to human error. She also added that the industry has not done enough to prevent human errors. However, she highlighted that it is not only the crew on board that makes mistakes, but also the staff on land can play a significant role in a casualty. For this reason, enhanced safety culture is necessary.

Mrs. Maria Christopoulou, Quality & Training Manager, Neda Maritime Agency Co. Ltd. talked about what has changed in shipping’s safety culture over the years. As she explained, incidents continue to happen. In order to limit them, a company’s plans should address the crew performance and how shore staff can affect crew on board. Ms. Christopoulou added that in order to achieve such a change, shipping has to adopt a practical method based on a SWOT analysis, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and turning them into opportunities.

All sessions ended with a round table discussion in which the audience exchanged ideas with high level experts of international repute on recent developments. Finally, Apo Belokas and Carleen Lyden Walker, on behalf of organizers, thanked the delegates for their participation, the partners and supporters for their support, the speakers/panellists for their excellent presentations and though provoking discussions and also the organizing team of the event for their contribution towards forum objectives.