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Maersk Line’s Chennai Express Service will now call at Kattupalli port in Tamil Nadu

Maersk Line (India & Sri Lanka cluster) has announced that its Chennai Express service which connects the Far East to the South and East of India will now add Kattupalli port in Tamil Nadu in its rotation.

chennai-express route map

The first official call to this port was made on 16th December, 2014. The calls will be fortnightly and will serve as an additional option for Auto and Electronics import customers and the diverse export businesses based out of the South of India. This service enhancement comes at a time when there is an increased emphasis on improving regional trade, especially with the Far East Asian markets.

Mr. Franck Dedenis, Managing Director for Maersk (India and Sri Lanka), said, “Our decision to call on Kattupalli port reiterates Maersk’s commitment to bringing tremendous value to customers. We are expecting a surge in trade through Kattupalli as it is fast becoming the preferred port by businesses in close catchment areas. Also this addition comes at a good time given the recent increased engagement between the Indian government and the counterparts in the Far East, under the Act East policy.” Maersk Line believes that advantages like reduced transportation time to the port as well as the catering CFSs, quicker turnaround of trailers at the port, better road connectivity via the national highways will help in increasing proximity with the customers, reduce their lead times and make logistics operations more cost effective for customers. This has been the company’s core motivation for investing in an additional port call on the Chennai Express.

Chennai Express Rotation

Qingdao – Xingang – Busan – Shanghai – Nansha – Tanjung Pelepas – Chennai – Krishnapatnam* – Kattupalli* – Visakhapatnam – Tanjung Pelepas

Life at Maersk Line

From a cadet having joined Maersk Line at the age of 17, to being one of the youngest Captains in the Maersk Line fleet, to being a part of a dynamic team at the Global Voyage Centre, Captain Gaurav Lal’s career has seen the growth with Maersk Line that will impress you!

Gaurav LalHaving joined Maersk as a cadet, Captain Gaurav went through a career trajectory that a seafarer treads on in general which includes pre-sea training, exams for academic qualifications and the certificates of competency. It’s far more arduous than it sounds though. “The whole journey leading from being a cadet to gaining the right training, acquiring the required amount of sea-time and attaining the necessary certifications, lasts for a period of about 10 years or longer” says, Captain Gaurav Lal, Senior Marine Operations Manager, Maersk Line.

Once through with the requisite academic and professional qualifications, the seafarer finally gets the Master Mariner certificate of competency for worldwide sailing. Captain Gaurav’s career years took him to Singapore and the UK for training and education.

So how exhilarating can it get for someone to be a part of the adventurous life at sea? Captain Gaurav wrote in a blog post for Maersk Group: “I grew up in the landlocked North India, far away from the sea. I had never seen the sea or been on a ship before I decided to make the sea my second home, one that I’ve ended up spending more time on than my actual home! As crazy as it sounds, I knew this was for me and that I would enjoy it.”

On further questions about his career at Maersk Line, he adds: “It’s been a fascinating journey, of course. Having spent almost 17 years with the company, it has been a part of me for half of my life already! It’s been a privilege to be associated with a brand like Maersk Line that stands for quality, reliability and innovation. As an industry bell-weather, Maersk Line is a forerunner in technology, research, and  thought leadership. Being a shipping giant with a global workforce, our culture  develops and propels adaptability. There is a certain sense of pride in being associated with a company that is driven by strong work ethics and values.”

Having commanded five ships, Captain Gaurav’s career took an interesting turn when an opportunity came knocking at his door after having sailed for about  2.5 years as a Master  with Maersk Line. As part of a Network Optimisation initiative, Maersk Line was looking for experienced captains  and seafarers to  setup a new project at Mumbai – ‘Global Voyage Centre.’ Captain Lal was one of the captains who got selected for the role. “As a seafarer , the skills you acquire,  from your experience at sea, such as leadership, crisis management, team work and  resourcefulness can be leveraged effectively in diverse  roles and responsibilities across the industry. When you’re a part of an organization as large as Maersk Line, there are several  options for career growth. The world is your oyster” he concludes.

Decoding the ranks

The world of merchant navy is indeed an intriguing one for all of us. Haven’t we all at one point or the other been mesmerized by the sight of those huge ships, the stories of sea farers and the long voyages?

Crews on board work like a well-oiled machine, with each crew member fulfilling an essential role. So what are the profiles of these seafarers who are on board the ships?


The ranking system is usually divided into the following categories on our ships: Deck, Engine, and Catering. Overseeing all the ranks in these categories is the rank of the Captain.

The Captain (or Master) of the ship holds the highest rank in the crew of the ship. The overall accountability of the ship lies with Captain and he is the company’s representative on board. His duty is to command the vessel in accordance with the national and international rules and with the Company’s policies and procedures. The command of the vessel lies with the Captain. Right from the vessel’s upkeep, to cargo handling, to people management onboard, to crucial decisions regarding the safety of the ship and the crew, the Captain shoulders all these responsibilities.


The deck department as the name suggests caters to the tasks on the bridge of the vessel. This department oversees the procedures like ship navigation and cargo handling. The ranks associated with this department are:

Chief Officer: Second in command of the vessel and the head of Deck Department. His main responsibilities include navigation watch keeping, loading, discharging and care of cargo during the voyage in compliance of the company’s instructions. The responsibility of safety, environmental protection, firefighting and lifesaving equipment also lies with the Chief Officer.

Second officer: Third in command, the main responsibility of second officer includes maintenance of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System equipment and the upkeep of navigational charts.

Third officer: The Third Officer is in control of the safe conduct of navigation and collision avoidance. The Third Officer is also responsible for maximising safety, quality and environmental protection.

Deck cadet: A Deck Cadet is on board for training. He undergoes the pre-sea training and joins the ship as a cadet for training. A cadet must observe and lend a helping hand, and try to gain as much of knowledge as possible.

Able seaman: An able seaman (AB) possesses a merchant mariner’s document and is eligible to assist the deck department.

 Ordinary seaman

An ordinary seaman can undertake the maintenance activities like overhauling, splicing ropes, wiring, rigging, etc. and conducting repair-work on the deck.


The Engine department comprises of the ship’s engineers and is responsible for the operation and maintenance of ship’s machinery.

Chief Engineer: Chief engineer is the head of the engineering department. Responsible for the engine room, the responsibility of the operations and ship’s machinery lies on the shoulders of Chief Engineer.

Second Engineer: One of the busiest beings in the Engine Room, the Second Engineer is responsible for the day-to-day activities. He oversees functioning of the machinery in the engine room and looks after the job assignments to the engine crew.

Third Engineer: Third Engineer reports into Second Engineer and is mainly responsible for maintaining the machinery of the engine room.

Fourth Engineer: The fourth engineer looks after the proper functioning of the machinery.

Engineering Cadet: Engine cadet is a trainee assisting and learning while observing and carrying out activities in the engine room.


The catering department is responsible for the food supplies and meals on board the ship.

Chief Cook:  Chief cook shoulders the responsibility of preparing meals for the crew of the ship along with the looking after the food stores.

Trainee Cook: The trainee cook helps the Chief Cook with the meal preparations.

Steward: The steward helps with the meal preparation and takes care of the serving of the meal on time among the crew members.

You can get some interesting information about the Maritime Education programs run at Maersk that include Officer, Deck Cadet and Engineering Cadet programs here. Additionally to know more about the shipping career at Maersk Line and about how to be one of the seafarers with us, you can visit here.

Marine Pilot Boats

About 100 Maersk Line vessels call at a port every day across the world. Given the vast difference in the geographies that the vessels end up at, have you ever wondered how the logistics and communication at each port are managed? It’s worth considering that every port would have a local language, a different set of local coastal state regulations, and a different system to navigate around the coastal area. A thorough knowledge of the local waters thus becomes mandatory in manoeuvring the vessel through the channel. 

1This important advisory capacity of negotiating the vessel to and from the port successfully lies with the marine pilot. Pilots are the experts at ship handling possessing thorough understanding of the local waterways and possible anomalies. So every time a vessel is about to call at a port, the marine pilot boards the vessel and takes over the control of the navigation, communication with the tugs and the local vessel traffic control.

Normally, the pilot joins an incoming ship prior to the ship’s entry into the shallow water at the designated “Pilot boarding area” via a pilot boat and climbs a pilot ladder to the deck of the vessel. They are transported by high speed “Pilot Boats” from shore to an inbound ship and from an outbound ship back ashore.

Pilot boats often use bright colours, like flashy yellow or red, to make them clearly visible and distinctive in poor climatic conditions.

2It’s noteworthy that at a few ports, the pilot is taken on board the inbound vessel through a helicopter. Ports such as Bremerhaven port in Germany, for example, get the pilots on board an inbound vessel and off an outbound vessel via helicopters due to the weather conditions. The reason being the sea that can get very rough at these ports and it makes it difficult for pilot boats to operate. The pilots face a lot of difficulty to board the ship from the boat. Helicopters therefore are a more stable option in such situations. It is also common to see pilot boarding operations via helicopter on South African ports like Durban as it’s a more cost and time efficient option.

So next time when you see a picture of a person boarding a vessel through a helicopter or a small fancy boat that joins your cruise ship or our huge vessels when it’s around the port, you know what’s happening.

Image courtesy: Aditya Mohan

The West Africa Max: Maersk Line’s specialized vessels for the Africa network

With today’s tight schedules, modern technology and communications it’s very easy to look at life on the sea purely as a business, but for Captain Gerhard Antony Ijssel de Schepper it’s a calling.

20.11.14 WAFMAX ship (for article)

As the son of a seafarer, the romance of the seas hasn’t lost its allure and like his colleague, Captain Atul Baijal, the excitement and challenges of being the Captain for one of Maersk Line’s most important class of vessels – the WAFMAX, is as thrilling as ever.

Due to their unique design, WAFMAX (or West Africa MAX) vessels are ideally suited to the West African market. The ships are 250 metres long with a draught of 13.5 metres, the maximum size allowable in West African ports. As they are equipped with on board cranes, the WAFMAX allow for more flexibility and can service ports without standing cranes.

20.11.14 WAFMAX cranes (for article)Having been a Captain for over a decade, Captain Gerhard has overseen the region’s development. ‘Twenty years ago you didn’t know when you could enter the port, when you had to leave or how long it would take to unload the cargo. But now with APM terminals in Africa and the local infrastructure developments its better regulated and more secure’ said Captain Gerhard.

‘But it’s still nowhere near the standard of Europe or Asia’ Captain Atul is quick to point out. Citing the sometimes imprecise loading and the effect it can have on the draught of a ship.

Given their unique position as frontline overseers of West African trade, even eternal optimists such as Captain Gerhard can’t help but notice the discrepancies between import and export volume. ‘It used to be that the region exported a lot of coffee, cacao and cotton, but these days there is not a lot of outbound cargo’ according to Captain Gerhard. ‘But with Nigeria’s oil production there will be an increase in exports’ said Captain Gerhard after a brief moment of reflection.

To add further dynamism to an already complex market, Captain Atul points out that there are a number of factors that are symptomatic of working in West Africa. A shift in piracy from east to west, Ebola and stowaways driven by socio-economics are all factors that WAFMAX captains must contend with.

‘But’ says Captain Gerhard with a wry smile, ‘I think I like it. It keep you sharp, you feel the adrenaline and there’s never a dull moment. Every day presents new challenges and no two days are the same. I tried an office job once, I couldn’t stay away from the seas.’