A captain should consider the conditions of the ocean, the vessel and the safety of his crew. He should also guarantee that his team members maintain an adequate level of psychological/physical stamina. The Captain Hong knows these truths well. He is taking charge of transporting LNG with insightfulness and determination.
Taking the ocean as the stage and never losing the sight of safety
Those carrying LNG to Korea from the opposite side of the planet are doing an immense amount of work every day. A captain is the alpha and omega of everything happening on the sea, especially the safety of his crew. The captain Hong confesses that he has spent more time on the sea than on land. He maintains that his work ethics never allows him to compromise safety.
Started LNG transportation with Hyundai LNG Shipping
After graduating from Korea Maritime and Ocean University in 1986, Captain SungYoung Hong has been on board about 30 years as a deck officer and a captain. He started to speak, “I am always grateful that I can contribute to the development of my country by working on the sea.” His family has worked in the field for three successive generations. His son is now in the university he graduated from and receiving training to work on the sea.
The captain Hong started his voyage right after his college graduation in 1986. Korean economy began to boom in 1980s, signaling the rebirth of Korea as a new prosperous nation. LNG industry, however, did not show early promising sings. The field was still a waste land. While he was working on tankers, Hong got an opportunity to join Hyundai Merchant Marine which would later become Hyundai LNG Shipping.
Safety is the top priority
“When I first came to the LNG industry, there were a lot of great seniors above me. I was the youngest one. I had great admiration for them, for they were pioneers. They have now all retired and I’m the oldest one left. As a new comer, I learned from them a lot of valuable lessons on safety navigation.”
‘If you are a captain, you should never lower your safety standard.’
This is something he has kept in mind for all these years. He still whispers this to himself whenever he boards on.
The moment when a captain should emerge as a leader
The reason he feels more responsible for safety is because he deals with a sensitive cargo such as LNG. In order to manage such a sensitive cargo, the vessel must be equipped with state-of-art safety devices, which means that the price of the vessel is high, and more precise maintenance is, of course, required to maintain such a high-value vessel. Captain Hong emphasized that calm, carefulness, seriousness, good judgment and sensitivity toward safety are essential to operate these high value-added vessels. Safety tops the list. This is why a captain’s leadership is so important.
“Imagine that a fire broke out in the middle of the ocean. We can’t call firefighters, so we have to be firefighters ourselves. Many of the crew in the ship have to solve the problems without external help. The captain must know how to put the situation under his control. He should facilitate communication to keep harmony and still command as a leader.”
Safety of crew and vessel is the top priority
Since a captain should take a full command of people and situations, he views his role primarily as a leader who leads his organization. There is a CEO in every company and his or her philosophy is crucial in managing it. The same is true for fleet operation. A captain should support his crew to facilitate safe navigation and also make a proper judgment when his team falls into a crisis. The most important role he should never lose sight of is to maintain safety of his team and vessel.
He added that his burden lies heavily on him because he directs the voyage of a national industry. The main supply of the energy for Korean people depends on his successful operation. Since a captain’s success is tied to that of nation, he or she can never get loose on the matter of safety.
Accuracy of disapproving 1cm error
“ No single accident on board is allowed. Even with a slight mistake, there might be unimaginable human and material losses. The captain must then simulate the worst possible situation.”
In the most extreme case, we have to think about the situation of abandoning a ship. If such a situation arises, then the captain is the one who must understand the scenario of how to escape safely. In order to prevent such accidents in advance, the captain of the LNG carrier is in a position that does not allow even a minor error. Different from that of other type of ships, the schedule of LNG carriers is very detailed and accurate. This is because all procedures for berthing at the terminal and cargo operations should be carried out according to the strict manual. Since small errors can lead to serious accidents, minor errors on time and distance should be avoided at all costs.
There should be reason for more than 20 years of no accident
“The safe operation of a fleet is closely tied to its crew. Behind the sophisticated operation of a giant LNG carrier, there is a positive atmosphere of trust among the crew. One cannot take it for granted that Hyundai LNG Shipping keeps the title of “no accident for more than 20 years.” It has been possible because our crew are detailed-oriented and have enough integrity to be perfectionistic toward minor errors.” Without good collaboration within the team, this could not happen. All the crew members take care of one another like a family.
Small things add up and create greatness
Captain SungYoung Hong believe that the great achievements are never made at once.
“Greatness comes only after when you successfully take care of small things. This perfectionism toward small things has made Hyundai LNG Shipping an icon of trust within the industry.”
“The same can be said for the role of a captain. When you keep making small judgments, you can then come up with macroscopic decisions.”
TaeWoo Kim received the scholarship from Hyundai LNG Shipping scholarship program. He has joined the company as a third engineer and is now working on the maintenance of vessel equipment.
A boy who dreamed of being a missionary has become a marine engineer.
Kim joined Hyundai LNG Shipping just a year ago. In his childhood, he had a dream to build a school for the children of the other side of the world. He wanted to give hope to many children who could not go to school and learn to dream. This wish is due to Kim’s past, for he also received a lot of help from Hyundai LNG Shipping. He realized when there is a will, there is a way. This made him a bigger person.
“I know we can all grow with others’ help. After I received the scholarship from the company, my dream became more concrete and eventually came true. Even though my current job is not exactly what I imagined, I think it still maintains my dream’s core features. I can help others with my job.”
The scholarship system of Hyundai LNG Shipping
TaeWoo Kim, a 2nd Engineer who had a dream to board on a LNG carrier, was looking for various scholarship offers during his undergraduate years. The scholarship system of Hyundai LNG shipping got his attention. Hyundai LNG Shipping has been implementing the scholarship support system from the former Hyundai Merchant Marine days since 1991. The company has the conviction that it should not hesitate to invest in and raise new young talents. After a student gets selected for the scholarship, he or she is given priority for the ship training by the company. The recipient also receives a tuition fee and study grant for one year. Moreover a mentoring system helps the scholarship recipients to connect to senior crew members in the field. This allows them to expect what they would be doing in the field. When they are ready to be employed, they are also assigned priority by Hyundai LNG Shipping.
"When I received my scholarship, my family was very happy. Due to the scholarship, I could enjoy my school life even more. Just joining Hyundai LNG Shipping has made me a proud son of my family. I must confess that Hyundai LNG shipping has made me laugh from my school life until now.”
Mentoring from rich experience and wisdom
“The senior was so kind whenever I asked for help. It was surprising to me because I only had kept my seniors in awe and considered them a long way off from myself. The mentoring proved it wrong and taught me things which are even useful today.”
Kim was impressed with the mentoring system. The matched senior not only answered his questions about the work but also gave him insights on how to deal with health, school activities and language learning.
The reason why I dreamed of becoming a LNG Shipping engineer
One year has passed after Kim had joined the company with the help of the scholarship program. He is now a proud 2nd engineer transporting energy from the other side of the world.
“Some are saying that my job on a LNG carrier is quite dangerous. However, it is actually safe because it has established a safety system to deal with sensitive cargo. Hyundai LNG Shipping also has the reputation of recording no accident for 20 years. The company’s high safety standard encouraged me to join.”
For safety, Hyundai LNG Shipping always maintains the working environment clean and offers a strict education program for all the employees. Kim is proud of working here and maintaining vessel devices.
Hoping to inspire trust with a high sense of responsibility
He said that in the past he had a habit of giving up work quickly if he was under pressure, but he has now learned to be more responsible and focus more on solving the problem. He also indicates his hope that he wants to be a senior who will become a model for future juniors.
He called Hyundai LNG shipping a 'National team'. As if a national team should give up what each member wants to do and concentrate on training, Hyundai LNG Shipping has been doing the exact same thing to keep the national energy supply intact. He wants to be an irreplaceable member of the company who continues this legacy of responsibility and trust.