As DP in a shipping company involved in global trade, Peter Jodin handles everything from stowaways and threats from pirates to personal protective equipment. Crewmembers can call him seven days a week, around the clock.
Peter Jodin meets us at Wallenius Marine’s headquarters in Söder, Stockholm. From here he has contact with the company’s 14 Swedish flagged ships and does what he can to support their crews, who are often on the other side of the world.
”In general I contact one ship a day. If they are in pirate waters or if there is an incident, we have more frequent contact.” In most cases it is Peter who calls the ships, but sometimes they call him.
”It could be someone who needs to contact a ship, or something which is not working. I am also the first to be contacted in emergency situations. My phone is always on, and it can ring any time of the day. During the tsunami in Thailand I was stirring the Christmas pots with one hand and had the phone in the other hand, talking with ships in the area.”
The first thing Peter does when he comes to the office in the morning is to read the web page that shows where the company’s ships are located. Then he checks to see if there have been any incidents in the area. Apart from that, few working days are similar.
”One morning a few weeks ago I was told that one of our ships had a problem in Australia. At lunchtime I went home to get a suitcase and flew to Melbourne.”
Peter worked for over 20 years at sea. His first job on board was as a 15-year-old. And yet he had planned to be a professional in the armed forces, not a seaman.
”I was just going to take a year off after the last year in compulsory school. My father was a telegraph operator and arranged a job for me as an officer cadet with Trans, on the same ship that he worked on. That was in 1975 and everything was much simpler then. But I discovered how good I felt at sea and decided to be a ship officer instead.”
He worked his way up, studied and changed shipping companies a few times until he started with Wallenius in 1990. He has stayed with them, except for one year as area manager for GAC shipbrokers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
”I had just turned 40 and was wondering whether I would keep on doing this for the rest of my life, when I got an offer from GAC. Both my wife and I thought it sounded fun so I accepted the offer.”
After Saudi Arabia he returned to Wallenius as safety officer and DP. The job has widened over time to cover quality and work environment management, including the really big, difficult questions. The scourge of piracy off the Somali coast is something Peter has lived with since 2005. The company now has clear procedures for passage through unsafe waters with guidelines, frequent contacts with the ships and armed guards on board. Smuggling, refugees and stowaways are also Peter’s area of responsibility.
”Sometimes we get desperate people on board who hope to find something better than what they left. If they find that the ship is not heading for where they had believed, the situation may change and become hostile. Sometimes crewmembers have felt threatened, but stowaways have also threatened to hurt themselves.”
”Working at a company where the owner family sets great value on health and safety makes things easier,” says Peter.
”Our design department draws ships just the way we want them, and we have our own ergonomics adviser who helps to design the interior.”
Peter says that he sometimes misses aspects of life at sea. Yet he has never regretted going ashore.
”Being there with my son as he grows up is a real privilege and something that my dad never did in the same way. But I have no bad memories about him being at sea, and that was largely my mother’s doing. She was always made sure dad was present and talked a lot about him. My sisters and I were the only kids on the block who had two Christmases. Mum always froze some of the Christmas food and we celebrated again when dad came home, with presents and everything. It didn’t matter if it was February, we had Christmas anyway.”
Family: Wife Carin, son Erik, 11
Home: Apartment in Stockholm
Job: DP, safety & quality manager and CSO at Wallenius Marine.
Background: Grew up in Hisingen, Gothenburg. Went to sea in 1975 on Transatlantic’s Barranduna. Tor Line, then Stena Line ships via joint-ownership shipping company. Second navigation officer at Wallenius from 1990. 2001 Area Manager for GAC in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Wallenius head office since 2002.
Work environment tips: Risk analysis should not be over-dramatised – it is not rocket science. Everyone carries out risk analyses every day. You don’t cross a street without looking. It is a risk analysis. The important thing is to think ahead before acting.