Maritime CEOOperations

Wilhelmsen Ship Management: Owners are ever more selective

Kuala Lumpur: Shipowners are being more selective than ever before when choosing a shipmanager, claims one of the leading names in third party management in today’s Maritime CEO interview.

Carl Schou, the president of Kuala Lumpur-headquartered Wilhelmsen Ship Management, says: “Owners are scrutinising shipmanagers’ performance more rigorously than ever, and expect nothing less than operational excellence.”

Schou believes that with the markets remaining very tricky for shipowners and cost cutting near the top of the agenda, third party management will grow strongly.

Another bonus for shipmanagers is the increasingly complex regulatory framework shipowners have to navigate.

“Remaining compliant to the ever-increasing environmental and operational requirements will probably be one of the biggest challenges,” Schou says. “The consequence of non-compliance is very high and operators may not have the resources or economies of scale to meet the requirements.”

Schou, a Norwegian, has been at the helm of Wilhelmsen Ship Management since 2008. He has pursued a number of niches that have paid off in recent years.

“We have had a strong momentum within certain segments,” he says, adding: “The LPG segment is one of the segments we have focused on over the last few years and we see now that we are bearing the fruits of this strategic focus. We will continue this focus moving forward.”

Today Schou’s company manages approximately 15% of the world fleet of VLGCs.


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  1. The comment from Carl Schou, president of WSM that: “Owners are scrutinising shipmanagers’ performance more rigorously than ever, and expect nothing less than operational excellence.” Is not surprising. Historically, third-party management benefits from shipping recessions. However, during this extended downturn -the worst the industry has witnessed – shipmanagers will have to contribute more than just providing cost plus management and lip service on helping owners to reduce costs, or they will see some of their ship owning clients go bankrupt and disappear.

    Many senior executives that dominate the industry have a fundamental mistrust of IT and a reluctance to adopt (pay) for new technologies, systems and innovations, preferring to hold on to the cost-plus model. We are now at the crossroad of change; with the drivers coming from large industrial vendors that have the vision to transform shipping into the new digital age. Will shipmanagers also have the vision to meet the challenge by investing in cost and efficiency initiatives? For example, outsource data management and IT hardware to maritime Cloud providers and pay for SaaS applications, without charges to the shipowners, thereby, enhancing “operational excellence” through improved efficiencies.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Michael. That is a very interesting thought. The constant evolution of technology has definitely changed the landscape of ship management. The industry is embracing new technologies into the usual nuts and bolts operations. We can’t speak for other ship managers but for WSM, searching for cost and efficient solutions to enhance our operational performance has always been high on our agenda. As a shipmanager, investing into forefront digital solutions is inevitable to remain in the game. It is also the defining attributes that differentiates one shipmanager to the other.

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