MT Copernicus was granted the well-deserved Ship of the Year 2017 award in November. They are so busy that it has been a challenge to find the right time and place to give the crew the SOTY distinction. “We are always on the move,” Captain Arek Popik explains.
MT Copernicus is the smallest vessel in the Seatrans fleet. Nevertheless, she is truly efficient. Transporting chemicals from Moerdijk in the Netherlands or Sarpsborg in Norway to destinations in Spain, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom, their longest voyage lasts no more than five days. Port stays are short, typically 12 hours. In other words: there is no time for dull moments on board the Copernicus.
“We are only a crew of eight, and we are totally dependent on each other. We have a top four team with the Chief Mate, Chief Engineer, 2nd Officer on deck and me, two ABs, one Pumpman and our cook. We have no stand-ins. We have become very close. Everybody is important here,” Popik says. “We are in a trade with short sailings and the advantage is that we are busy all the time. We don’t have much time to think of bad ideas… But we have to work when we are here. A good atmosphere on board is a key to success. Everybody works towards this; officers, ratings and the cooks. We very much depend on our cooks who sweeten our life on board!”
Like it – or not
The Captain defines people as two types. “We have the ones who like being on board with us on Copernicus, and those who don’t,” he explains with a laugh. “People on board have to like working and need to accept tough conditions on board. However, we have a very stable crew, people want to come back here again and again. We take care of each other. We care for the ship – we spend half of our life on board. That is very beneficial for us because then we don’t have to spend time learning the crew members what to do. And it makes our safety work easier as well.
We have our safety meetings before cargo operations and daily jobs, and we have a monthly meeting where we evaluate the month behind us, what we have done, where we can improve and so on. We think over what we are doing. I don’t think this is unique in the Seatrans fleet, but it works fine for us, anyway,” Captain Popik says. He is an example himself, being Captain on Copernicus since 2015, and Chief mate on the same vessel a few years before that.
Captain Popik also points out that the award is a compliment to both shifts and all crew members who have been working on Copernicus. “A lot was achieved by Captain Andrzej Golanski, who was with us until 2017,” Popik adds.
Captain Popik also underlines the importance of good communications they have with their counterparts at the office. “They follow us very closely and see what we are doing. They give us positive feedback on our performance and we really appreciate that too.”
In addition to honour and fame for the crew, the award comes with a money prize of €5,000, which has already been spent. “We have bought a new satellite television system. This boost our standard of living on board, so we really appreciate this,” Captain Popik concludes.
THE CREW ON BOARD MT COPERNICUS THIS ROUND:
Arek Popik, Master; Andrzej Sitarek, Chief Mate; Tomasz Czerniak, 2nd Mate; Mieczyslaw Paszkowski, Chief Engineer; Roman Bichowski, A/B; Janusz Biranowski, A/B; Miroslaw Wasielewski, Pumpman; Zbigniew Blachowiak, Chief Cook.