Thursday, August 30, 2012

PrimeServ hits Canada

A toast to PrimeServ launch in BC
I had the privilege, last week, of attending the launch of MAN Diesel and Turbo's new PrimeServ service station in Canada. The event, which occurred in Vancouver, last Thursday, with many industry guest on hand, officially launched MAN's service station on the West Coast of Canada. Earlier in the week, a ceremony was held in Halifax, to launch the East Coast's PrimeServ location.

MAN Diesel is of course well known has being a major supplier of Diesel engines worldwide; two strokes and four strokes. With its roots dating back to 1758, in Bavaria, Germany, M.A.N., which stands for Machinefabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg, is home to the birth of the Diesel engine. In 1893 Dr. Rudolph Diesel started developing the novel prime mover in MAN's workshop in Augsburg. The Diesel engine is now a central part of our daily lives, playing a major role in efficiently providing power for numerous applications, at sea and on land.

Picture by MAN
The MAN name came to Canada with the acquisition of Alstom Engine Canada in 2000. Based in Oakville Ontario, the operations were mainly geared towards power plants design and deployment. With the opening of these new PrimeServ locations, MAN is addressing the long time absence of Authorize Engine Representation in Canada, especially in the marine sector. MAN, in the course of it's history, has merged into it's operations, many well known prime mover brands, many are still in operation. The opening of an official OEM regional point of contact will surely benefit the local operators, with accurate, trouble free sourcing of parts, service and training.

If you have an engine, turbo or propulsion equipment built by MAN, or originally supplied by Burmeister & Wain (B&W), SEMT Pielstick, Mirrlees, Ruston, Paxman, Alstom, Blackstone, Napier, Alpha, Holeby, and more, then MAN's PrimeServ is your OEM point of contact.

On the west coast of Canada, Riseley D'Souza will head the regional office, based in Victoria, with a workshop at Point Hope Shipyard, and an office on the mainland, in Richmond. On the East Coast, the office and workshop will be based out of Halifax, under the leadership of Pierre Poulain. Central Canada will continue to be serviced by MAN Canada's PrimeServ office in Oakville, soon to move to Burlington; experienced deep sea engineer Kamen Stoykov is your "go to" guy there.

Picture by MAN
I extend my warmest welcome to PrimeServ in Canada; better late than never, as they say. With many engines under the MAN OEM banner, still in operation on the West Coast, PrimeServ will definitely be a welcomed and positive addition to the local maritime community; not to mention very handy to our many international visitors at our British Columbia ports.

You can reach Riseley on the West Coast at 604 360 7834, or by email at Pierre's phone number in Halifax is 902 402 6445 or The main PrimeServe office in Canada is at 289 835 1010, or All three are experienced Marine Engineering peers and are easily approachable.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Summer time blues

Too much summer sun!
Its been a super nice summer here in BC, I am 3/4 of the way into my time off the ship, so its time to start thinking about going back. Time to wrap up my home projects, start putting on "my ship" head but play a little more with the kids. The website, like a good portion of the visitors, takes a hiatus during the summer.

I am happy to report that, although slow in coming, I am working on a complete redesign of the main website. I've been working on it for quite a long time, the hard part was developing a working strategy. This has been decided and I have been busy doing a major updating of the various areas of the main site. Of course I am way behind, having overestimated my productivity; I had forgotten how much reference and information that went in it in the first place, that has to be updated, not just the look and feel.

I won't put any timeline on the table, my hobby unfortunately takes a back seat to my other responsibilities... I am pretty excited about it, it's been invigorating to rediscover the project, originally started nearly 13 years ago.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Monday, August 06, 2012

Survey says...

Apparently there is a shortage of experienced ship staff and operators. Specialized head hunting firms seemed to be popping up everywhere, while established, but non marine specialized ones, focus on to the high bounty paid as a result of a successful placement. However, I field inquiries suggesting that these established "land firms" have trouble understanding the challenges of "headhunting" in the seafaring world.

This has resulted in some benefits to us seafarers, one is that instead of begging and grovelling for good work, we get to be a bit more choosy than before. Another improvement, is that the various firms are fighting for exposure and as a result share more information with the community.

This year, I have come across a rash of "pay and benefits" surveys which are giving us a glimpse of what's happening in the market. Most deal with shipping professionals in general, but many of these positions are extension of the seafaring marine engineer's capabilities, so should be interesting reading for seafarers as well.
  • The first one is from start-up Flagship Management of the USA. This past June they issued a Salary Review. I had problems opening this document, if you do as well, just send them an email and they will send you a copy.
  • Next, professional development firm Coracle's and recruiter's, Halcyon, Employee Survey which briefly quizzed marine industry employees about 'feelings and such", rather than cash numbers - you can view the survey results for 2011 here, and see past surveys (2009, 2010) here.
  • On the scene and in the stream for some time now, Fast Stream, has also put out results of their comprehensive survey for 2012 salary. One of the highlights is that Chief Engineers, clearly lead in terms of percentage in rise of wages, in year over year pay increases.
  • Over at Elite Crew, they publish a Salary Guide for yacht crews, and Dovaston's is here.
  • The government in the USA publishes these salary statistics, although they do not fit exactly into the categories we, as seagoing engineers, are used to. Here is another representation of payscales.
Overall, from my industry experience, I am finding that job offers for engineers here in Canada are moving up. Pay is definitely on the way up, unfortunately the rest of the terms and conditions aboard vessels - living arrangements, old boats, benefits, food, crew levels, leave rotation, etc, remain stagnate or going down. I am also seeing that the pay for an engineer has gone up, the crewing of the engine room is done by far fewer people than in the past. Many ship operators have cut ratings altogether in the engine room, if not to the bare minimums, or even having dual duties rating, "deckhands and oiler".

This is having an interesting impact on the quality of life on board. For most of us that have gone through the "Canadian" training system, this is no surprise, but for many new engineer in Canada, which I believe is becoming the principle way for Canadian operators to obtain licensed crew for the vessels, this situation is a bit shocking to them, once on board.