Stolt-Nielsen Inter Tanker Service provides support as 'Soulmate' to unique maritime training project

Unique maritime training project

Stolt-Nielsen Inland Tanker Service has stepped forward to provide financial and practical support for a unique maritime training project in The Netherlands. Designed to help and encourage young people facing difficulties in their lives, the project centers around the Mate, a newly converted barge which was officially launched as a maritime training vessel last year. The initiative aims to educate and prepare about 24 young people a year for a job in the maritime industry.

As a 'Soulmate', SNITS has supported the project by contributing €5,000, and making additional non-financial contributions. "During construction of the Mate (the transformation of the dry cargo barge Zephyr into a training barge), our technical manager and superintendents visited the vessel and donated their technical knowledge and recommendations," said Frank Maerckaert. "In addition, we offered paint and other tools which we had in stock and no longer needed."

The project is led by Trivium Lindenhof, a Dutch organization which helps young people who have not attended regular school, and often have difficult home lives, to prepare for future careers in industries such as automotive, metalworking, hospitality and inland shipping. In the past, young people were placed on board selected barges of various owners, including SNITS. However, the step from shore to inland shipping without basic knowledge was often too much and it was decided that a foundation level of maritime training and education on board a dedicated training barge would be the ideal solution in preparing the young people for work on a commercial barge.

The Maaskade Group, which owns the charter vessels Stolt Hamburg, Stolt Koln, Stolt Emsland and Pendrecht, was a driving force behind this collaborative new project, which has brought together youth care, government and business. A number of inland shipping companies are involved, including fleet owners, charterers, suppliers and service companies. Trivium Lindenhof believes that using the barge will deliver a much higher success rate in training young people.

The youngsters will follow six-month programme on board, gaining basic knowledge about inland shipping. After that, they will be helped to find employment in inland shipping and gain further training. "It's a real positive that this project may offer a supply of future crew for our fleet - we really hope that once students have completed their training, we can offer them a job on board one of our vessels," said Maerckaert. "We will keep in touch with the organization to monitor developments."