Tanker Shipping & Trade caught up with Capt Allan Dutton of Columbia Shipmanagement at the Intertanko Tanker event in Singapore to find out more about his day-to-day role running fleet operations
Capt Allan Dutton is the group director of fleet operations at Columbia Shipmanagement in Limassol, Cyprus. Tanker Shipping & Trade spoke with Capt Dutton at the Intertanko Tanker Event in Singapore in May 2019.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: What was your first fleet manager role?
Capt Dutton: I joined Euroceania UK (formerly Crystal Pool) as group fleet manager. It was my first role as a fleet manager and working at Euroceania UK was my first exposure, as it were, to the chemical carrier trade. The Crystal Pool fleet was purchased by Borealis Maritime. Although I was not part of the package, I did agree to join Borealis.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: Did your role change?
Capt Dutton: It was a big change for me in that now I was working for an entity that managed maritime assets for financial investors. I now had exposure to the buying and selling of ships, the appointing of technical and crewing managers, and dealing directly with brokers when the ships came off time charter. On the tanker side we had multiple managers, and part of my responsibility was to manage them.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: How does that reflect on your current role?
Capt Dutton: It was a direct step up into my current role at Columbia Shipmanagement. Having gained experience on both the fleet-managing and the shipowning side, I now proudly work with the seafarers again. At Borealis we looked at the ship predominantly as a maritime asset and worked to maximise the bottom line, but now, in addition to the extremely important commercial elements of the business, we also look at the human-element side of things. We simply have to.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: What is your typical business day?
Capt Dutton: My day-to-day is predominantly operational issues, which includes the safety and commercial performance of the vessels. In my role I co-ordinate all the various departments to ensure the commercial impact is kept to a minimum. If a ship is not performing, my role is to sit down with my fellow group technical, marine and crewing directors and remedy that situation for the owner, whoever that interest might be.
In Columbia, the “interest” might also be a tanker pool. Part of my remit is to represent Columbia at the various pools as the technical manager. It is important to see the bigger picture, where the technical issue might also be a commercial one, not readily evident on the technical side.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: How do you monitor the performance of a vessel?
Capt Dutton: Going forward, Columbia will utilise its state-of-the-art Performance Optimisation Control Room (POCR), which opened in December 2018. With 24/7/365 support, the POCR will deliver value-added service to our clients utilising modern technology to optimise performance, safety, security and cost-efficient operations. With IMO 2020 just around the corner, fuel consumption would be looked at more closely by charterers and could be the key differentiator between one vessel and another when competing for business.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: What other areas do you monitor?
Capt Dutton: I also work closely on the performance of our crews. ISM placed great emphasis on policies and procedures, but in order to achieve goal-zero we need to look at behaviours to enhance the safety culture of the company. We have a new philosophy in Columbia called I Care, which revisits the company’s core values. It is about integrity and doing the right thing even when no one is looking.