Seafarer Veterans Share Journey with Next Generation

  • Post published:21 July 2022

The theme for this Day of the Seafarer 2022 is “Your voyage – then and now, share your journey”, in which seafarers are encouraged to share their journey in this career – in particular how seafaring has changed since their first voyage.

In the spirit of the theme, Young SMOU organised the Our Sailing Days dialogue with SMOU Executive Committee members Mr Yong Soon Huat and Captain Nordin B Mohamed Rais, to share about their experiences at sea and transition to shore. Close to 20 seafaring youth members participated in the dialogue which was held at the SMOU Mariners’ Lounge on the evening of 16 June.

Kicking off the dialogue session was Captain Nordin who has been sailing for more than half a century, and still pursuing his passion till this day. He has seen the industry transform over the many years, including how the safety standard on board ships has increased, the certified manpower needed to operate a ship, the new technology and facilities on board ships, and the list goes on. Captain Nordin shared that as technology continues to advance, he is still learning until today. He urged the youths to never stop learning and embrace lifelong learning as the shipping industry transforms to utilise new technological capabilities.

Empathising with the challenges faced by the youth seafarers in their career, Captain Nordin shared of the challenges he has faced as a seafarer. He spurred the youth members on to persevere in this journey and remember why they have chosen to sail. To the many years of sailing, he gave credit to the support he has received from his family, which allowed him to pursue his passion of sailing even till today.

Mr Yong, Treasurer of SMOU and the second speaker for the evening, had a different journey in his career as a seafarer. While having attained the rank of chief engineer during his sailing days, he later transited to a shore role in the 1990s, and is now the General Manager of Liebherr Singapore Pte Ltd. He shared the importance of attaining CoC Class 1 certificate and the experience gained as a senior seafaring officer, such as managing people, gaining knowledge while liaising with other shipping vendors, and the ability to manage large assets such as the ship and the crews.

He explained that these were keys that helped him in his line of work when he made his move ashore, and allowed the company to entrust the job to him. Similar to Captain Nordin’s advice, Mr Yong stressed the importance of keeping oneself upgraded constantly and attending maritime-related networking events to get to know people in the industry.

Having both sailing and ashore experience, Mr Yong was upfront with the obstacles he encountered during the transition. He also shared useful tips on attaining valuable skills and experiences so that those thinking of making an eventual switch ashore can value-add to their portfolio and resume.

Closing off the session, Emeritus General Secretary Mr Thomas Tay advised the youth to always add value to the work that they do. He encouraged and wished the youth who were pursuing their next CoC to never give up. The conversation continued even after the end of the dialogue over a hearty meal at the Lighthouse Bistro where the youth were able to ask deeper questions and more specific advice about their career in the maritime industry. Taking the chance, the youth also managed to catch-up with their seafaring peers, whom they may not have seen each other in-person due to the pandemic.

The dialogue ended on a meaningful note, with the youth inspired and having a wider perspective from the wisdom of the seafaring veterans.

Goh Si Ying, a Young SMOU member who is in the midst of clocking sea time for his CoC Class 3 told SeaVoices that he found the talk insightful as it gave him a perspective of how the seafaring industry has changed over the years. “What stood out to me was when the speakers shared that Singaporean seafarers are high in demand and from that, I am assured that I will not be out of a job,” said Si Ying confidently. He expressed his thanks to SMOU for organising the dialogue, and to the speakers for taking the time to come down and share their stories.

Attending the session was also Hani Aqidah who had recently attained her CoC Class 5. She shared that the dialogue was very interesting, and it is something that she would love to attend again. “The speakers shared advice about planning ahead in the seafaring career, especially in the area of upgrading ourselves with higher certifications and senior positions. Coming out from today’s dialogue, I feel confident from the advices that have been given,” she said.