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Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement: Beacon and compass

“In a fast changing and complex world full of challenges and rough seas, our core values of trust, teamwork and tradition are our beacons and our compass as we embark on destinations and wider horizons that the vastness of the sea opens up for all on board.”

These stirring words belong to Captain Tsakos, founder of Tsakos Shipping and Trading S.A. He created the company in 1970, establishing its headquarters in Athens, Greece. Born to seafaring parents, the call of the ocean was always in Tsakos’ blood. His inspiring attitude towards sea travel was clearly contagious, as since its founding, Tsakos Shipping and Trading has expanded into a world-wide operation. It grew steadily by focusing on providing high quality and safety-oriented ship management, as well as building long-term relationships with oil majors, state-owned oil companies and first-class charterers. Just as Cpt Tsakos emphasised the ideas of “trust, teamwork and tradition”, Tsakos Shipping and Trading S.A have developed a well-earned reputation for reliability, quality and efficiency. For any business looking to export their products, shipping and logistics are their last point of contact between their customers or stockists – they are not only handling items of material value, but are also in a position to affect these invaluable relationships. With all of this at stake, you need a company you can trust, which is why the Tsakos Group have become the partner of choice for a wide range of entrepreneurs.

As an essential element in the Group’s smooth sailing, Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement (TCM) provides technical management, along with operational and crewing services to fleet of about 90 vessels. This diversified fleet contains tankers, including shuttles and LNG gas carriers, as well as dry cargo ships. The company was established in 2010 as a joint venture between Tsakos Group and Schoeller Holdings Ltd. Schoeller Holdings Ltd was established by Cpt Heinrich Schoeller; he founded the company in Cyprus, 1978, but amongst its resulting branches was Columbia Shipmanagement. The company’s incredible success put Columbia on the ship-management map, and the company itself became one of the most respected in the sector.
The Tsakos Group now encompasses a range of shipping-related services, as well as Tsakos Shipping & Trading and the supporting Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement, they also encompass Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd, Tsakos Shipping (London) Ltd, TCM Tsakos Maritime Philippines Inc, Argosy Insurance Company Ltd, Tsakos Industrias Navales and Green Projects – Uruguay.

TCM’s operations made the most of the expertise brought to the table by both its founders, not only in terms of their significant management expertise, but also in the practical skills of their employees. Once founded, the company set out to build upon these foundations, to not only live up to the names and reputations of its founding companies, but to move forwards from this vantage point with the aim of providing the greatest qualities service on offer to trading vessels the world over. To compete in a global game such as long-distance shipping management, you are instantly a fish in a big pool, so you have to be a biggest, or in this case, best fish out there.

To this end, TCM builds upon its founders’ reputations and strives to establish long term client relationships. TCM is committed to safe, clean and efficient shipping operations, frequently reviews the performance of its fleet and is not afraid to take risks in creating new initiatives for its improvement. In this ongoing quest, they have even gone as far as establishing the Maria Tsakos TCM Academy – an interactive training centre for shipping personnel. The school was created by Cpt Tsakos himself, and lovingly named after his daughter. Tsakos has always put a high value on his people, seeing employees as the key to success in all of his Group’s companies. As a man who worked his way up the seafaring ranks to the position of captain, he understands well the importance of teamwork, and that every person brings an essential element to a well-oiled crew. This belief in people inspired him to create the school, to attract new talent to the sector, as well as to maximize on the talent already present. In conjunction with the school, he created the Maria Tsakos Foundation International Centre of Maritime Research and Tradition, which both supports the academy and works to promote social recognition for the history and future of maritime professions.
The Maria Tsakos TCM Academy uses state-of-the-art Kongsberg Bridge training simulators, as well as an engine room simulator and cargo handling simulators to create a life-like learning experience. This style of learning allows trainees to react in real time to realistic-seeming situations, meaning that mistakes make greater impact and become faster-learned lessons, and yet operations are not hindered or put at risk.

Fittingly, the facility is housed at the company’s Athens headquarters. Like all of the Group’s operations, the academy attempts to embody and adhere to the principles and values of Cpt Tsakos – in particular, it upholds the importance of his commitment to safe operations, and preservation of the environment through clean and safe practices. Both onboard and onshore personnel can train at the academy; as well as training new members of staff, this also allows existing TCM officers and employees to refresh and develop their own training, again enabling them to better adhere to Cpt Tsakos’ vision for the group and to better achieve the group’s ambitions to be best-in-class. It also offers the opportunity to test employees on their ability to deal with higher-rank responsibilities when promotions are being considered.

All of this allows TCM to get the very best out of their employees, training them to their full potential and making sure that they are in the right roles for their skills and mentality. Everyone in a crew relies on each other, and this is the same for both an onshore and offshore shipping team. TCM allow these teams to operate secure in the knowledge that every member has had immersive training and preparation, and brings the armoury of skills with them needed for a safe and smooth operation. This same assurance can be held by TCM’s customers, and those who rely on all Tsakos Group fleets and services.