Our technology bridges oceans – and so have many of our colleagues here at Wärtsilä Voyage. Christopher Schröder, Head of Regional Sales Europe, spent four years at sea and served in the German navy for 12 years. Experience his stories and discover what makes him so passionate about our industry – from seafarer to seafarer.
Meet our mariners.
Christopher believes in the power of automation technology to make life aboard vessels safer and easier for their crews, although he warns against complacency as sailors must first and foremost know what they’re doing rather than relying on technology 100%. His experience at sea has helped him to appreciate what matters most to mariners, and he uses this knowledge daily in his role at Wärtsilä Voyage.
The first time I went to sea as a young cadet I was so homesick! Somehow, I eventually got used to it though. Although my last day onboard was an ordinary one, it was very emotional because being at sea was a special time in my life and it felt like I was leaving a family behind.
I still apply the basics of navigation that I studied, and I also learned a lot about naval operations that I’ve now forgotten most of it. I ran through a lot of simulated situations that probably helped me to avoid more than my fair share of crashes or near misses onboard a real ship! But in the end, the special things are the things you can’t be taught at school, like experiencing the life of a seaman and living onboard a vessel.
The day when I finally realised that I actually knew what I was doing is certainly memorable! I was officer of the watch, working alongside a more senior officer on the bridge who, rather than giving me time to figure things out, would usually always jump in first with his suggestions. We were discussing some planned boat manoeuvres when it dawned on both of us at the same time that the weather made it too dangerous to go ahead. The fact that I’d worked that out for myself at the same speed as him gave me the confidence to take decisions for myself from then on. That was a huge turning point. I got my license shortly afterwards, and the ability to make big, important decisions without hesitating has stayed with me ever since.
It doesn’t matter how good you are – or how good you think you are – you can’t sail a big ship on your own. A vessel’s crew is far greater than the sum of its parts, and everyone needs to work together as a team, like a well-oiled machine. There’s no room for inflated egos or individualism.
It puts a big grin on my face simply to remember how young and how naïve I was when I first set sail. I was so unexperienced. !
This is an easy one: A connected ECDIS (FOS). Back when I was correcting paper navigation charts, there was no easier way to ruin my weekend: the paper charts needed to be kept up-to-date. And I remember one instance where I made a correction and realized that I mixed the position values. I corrected it again just to see that the first correction was right. So I corrected it again. And this happened not just once. A connected ECDIS does all of this for you – so no more ruined weekends!
Christopher’s first-hand experience has given him a fascinating insight into the life of a mariner, learning about the importance of teamwork, the value of real seafaring experience and the benefits that technology can bring. He is proud to work in this industry, helping Wärtsilä Voyage provide his fellow seafarers with reliable technologies that save time, reduce stress and improve safety onboard.