15 JAN 2021
Frank Coles has resigned his post as CEO of ship management firm Wallem Group and will be departing soon, the company announced Friday. The managing director of Wallem Shipmanagement Ltd., John-Kaare Aune, will be taking the helm until a permanent replacement can be found.
“As many will be aware Frank has been very active in highlighting the plight of seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic and now wishes to become more involved in promoting their welfare, as well as pursuing other opportunities,” said Wallem Group’s board in a statement. “During his two and half years at Wallem Frank has initiated many changes aimed at enhancing customer service, obtaining operational efficiencies and improving safety. We wish Frank success for the future.”
Coles has been an outspoken defender of seafarer rights over the course of his career, and he has recently taken aim at charterers who write no-crew-change clauses into their contracts. This new practice is found in some markets as commodity traders seek to minimize the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks (and costly commercial delays) on board the vessels they charter.
“I am proud of the changes I have brought to Wallem and for the advances we have made. After all these years in the maritime industry I would now like to focus on . . . the welfare and rights of seafarers,” Coles said in a statement.
During his time at Wallem, Coles – who previously ran the navigation technology company Transas and coordinated its acquisition by Wartsila – promoted the use of digital tools to modernize ship management processes and provide more transparency to customers.
“Giving owners a clearer view of fleet performance and operational status paves the way for building a more constructive relationship. Wallem has an opportunity to grow by taking the initiative in tackling the shortcomings of the traditional model,” he said in 2019. “Transparency is also needed in the new model in terms of business ethics and transactions for gaining business. This is not only about clarity of the operations but how you get the business in the first place.”
He has also been a frequent critic of policies and practices that harm seafarers, including vessel abandonment and COVID-19 crew change restrictions.
“The question should be is there enough interest in seafarers and the enforcement of seafarers human rights? The answer is an absolute no. We can have all the regulations we want, but at this juncture we lack the drive, ability and visibility to enforce the regulations with consistency,” said Coles in 2019. “The seafarer is still largely an abused and ignored class of human being.”