Columbia Shipmanagement debuts seafarer benefits package

Top management at Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM) has come good on a promise to lead shipping to review how it handles benefits for its employees at sea, an overlooked part of the industry for decades.

Claiming an industry first yesterday, CSM debuted ColumbiaCrewCare, a benefits package which offers seafarers life insurance and an investment plan for medical costs, disability provision, pension planning, or house/car purchase – all from a starting cost of €1 per day.

Crew need to no longer feel invisible

“ColumbiaCrewCare is a cradle to grave benefits package involving minimal and affordable contribution from the seafarer and very real benefits/investments for him or her and their families which are accessible at any time. When it comes to caring about our seafarers, we wanted to demonstrate real commitment and walking the walk as opposed to just talking about care,” said Norman Schmiedl group director of crewing at CSM.

Adopting a holistic approach to seafarer health and wellbeing, CSM has also launched its ColumbiaFit to assist its crewmembers get fit and ensure a healthy well-being. Not only will each crewmember be equipped with his/her own fitness equipment, but a free phone app will help crewmembers record their weight loss with the company claiming yesterday the app is both interactive and fun. It also gives the crew the option to sign up to fitness classes, yoga, relaxation and meditation techniques.

Research indicates that ill-health and obesity increase the risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19, so CSM has been working with its preferred catering partner MCTC to highlight the importance of nutrition and healthy eating.

“We have adopted a holistic approach to the issue of the health and well-being of our seafarers; fresh, nutritious and healthy eating provided by our preferred caterer MCTC; 24/7 mental health support and professional psychological help provided by Mental Health Support Solutions; and now a respectable benefits package for each crewmember no matter how junior and a corresponding commitment to fitness,” said Mark O’Neil, president and CEO of CSM.

“Crew need to no longer feel invisible. Their welfare is very much in our sights and our number one focus. A healthy crew – healthy in body and mind – is a motivated crew, a better crew,” he added.

Speaking with Splash TV in May O’Neil highlighted how important it was that shipping reviewed its benefits packages – or the lack thereof – for seafarers.

“It’s time for the employers within the shipping industry to look at the benefits which they afford their crews. The crews have been at the forefront of this Covid-19 battle, some of them have not been rotated for nine months… It is now time to look again at the whole question of crew benefits. Is a crewmember, an able bodied seaman entitled to the most basic health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, pension provisions? This is something we have certainly started to look at within Columbia to see is it affordable, is there a contribution from the crewmember, a contribution from the industry and insurers, etc on how we can facilitate that,” O’Neil mused in a shipmanagement special episode of the TV series.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Tyranny hardly can be described as “Interactive and Fun”. Mass surveillance techniques for tamed sailors.

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