The Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation has an annual awards day when innovative seafarers are recognized for their improvements to the work environment and safety on board. On this year’s award day, held at Hasselbacken in Stockholm on 5 May, Jonny Egerstad from Silja Galaxy was among those who were called on stage to receive an award for their work. He has been awarded several times by the Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation in the past, and this year he showed two innovations. The first was a platform to stand on when working on the main engine. He developed it to ease the replacement of the large exhaust bellows, but the platform is currently used for several other jobs where access is needed to areas higher up on the engine. 

“Sometimes you need to remove the insulation around the exhaust bellows and check that there are no leaks or tighten a couple of nuts. We also use it when we carry out work on the cylinder heads. The motormen say it is worth its weight in gold and that was good to hear,” says Jonny Egerstad. 

The second innovation was a rack for steel material. The rack is placed in the middle of the room where it is easy to access from all directions. Jonny Egerstad has also made containers for cut-off bars, which he put next to the rack. 

“The last rack was so low under a ladder that you had to get on your knees to pull out what you needed, and because the stuff was disorganised it was difficult to take out what you wanted.”

We are only allowed to weld when we are moored in Stockholm or Turku and we don’t stay for more than an hour and a half, so you have to work quickly.

Getting the rack in place took a lot of time and work. 

“It probably took about a week to finish it and before I could even start with the rack I needed to strengthen the floor, since the steel weighs such a lot when it is collected in one place. You can’t work freely all the time, either. We are only allowed to weld when we are moored in Stockholm or Turku and we don’t stay for more than an hour and a half, so you have to work quickly.” 

Jonny Egerstad says he enjoys his job very much, but it was not always clear that he would go to sea. When he was growing up, he had no real idea of ​​what he wanted to do until one day in ninth grade a teacher from a marine college showed up at his school and talked about work on board ships. That was how Jonny Egerstad got into the profession. In 2000, he graduated from the Seafarer’s College in Härnösand and after a couple of voyages on the product tanker Bro Transporter and military service with the Amphibious Regiment in Vaxholm, he joined Silja Festival. 

“I mostly thought it was good to have a job and that I would stay until I got work on an ocean-going ship, because I wanted to get away and see something different. But conditions are very good on the ferries, so I stayed. Then I met Anna, my wife, and it no longer felt as good to be away from home for a long time,” says Jonny. 

During his years at Silja Line, he has worked as a motorman, interior repairman, project repairman and now engine repairman. Regardless of his job, part of the work was always about improving things for himself and his colleagues, in which he is not alone. 

“There are many of us who come up with ideas. Sometimes it’s about bigger projects that need more than one person involved. We also have a first engineer who comes up with suggestions and he also allows us the time to work on projects.” 

Jonny Egerstad about creativity as a repairman

”Trying to make things easier for yourself and your colleagues is part of the job, as well as being the best part of it. I like to be creative and solve problems. We have a maintenance schedule that we follow and sometimes there are things that need urgent care, but apart from those things you can work on your own projects.”