Today, we had a well-deserved extra hour of sleep before our 9:30 AM departure. I actually got down to breakfast in time to order an omelette with halloumi cheese. At this point, my infatuation with halloumi has descended into scheming how to smuggle vast amounts of it past customs in the US.
With a full meal and new energy, we headed for Limassol (yet again). I am not complaining, though—this three-day stretch of learning about the Cyprus shipping industry has been abundantly fascinating, despite my initial expectations. Every speaker has painted a nuanced picture of a complex, important industry directly intertwined with the economic prosperity of Cyprus and the world economy at large.
Today, we looked at shipping from the perspective of the maritime services that man and supervise vessels. BSM (Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement) trains new captains and cadets to steer container ships, tankers, and more. We started with a presentation from a BSM official about the training process and the history of BSM. Aspirants can pursue certifications specific to vessels owned and operated by BSM, or they can receive globally recognized certificates and then operate vessels elsewhere. BSM is the largest maritime training company in Cyprus and holds about 70 students at any given time (though much of the study body is currently virtual). In our first Q&A session, one student asked about using virtual reality in the training curriculum. The speaker did not comment on VR in the training process, but did explain how VR is increasingly used to manage issues that arise on vessels at sea. Instead of shipping an expert offshore to assist, the expert can instead guide a technician on the ship while looking at the faulty engine, for example, through a VR headset.
After this presentation, we split in half to tour the compound. I found the simulation room particularly interesting. In the simulation program, trainees must operate a vessel moving through the English Channel. I learned that channels have certain traffic regulations monitored and enforced by neighboring countries. For instance, vessels must stay within a “lane” a certain distance across, and vessels crossing through lanes must do so in a perpendicular fashion to reduce time spent obstructing traffic. In a different room, we learned about safety hazards that a trainee must learn to mitigate, namely fire hazards (as most container vessels are essentially tinderboxes). The conventional practice is to reduce the oxygen concentration in a particular storage room.
The rest of our day after BSM included lunch in Zygi at a fish tavern (great shellfish), a visit to the holy mosque Hala Sultan Tekke, and some time on the Finikoudes Beach in Larnaca. Swimming in the Mediterranean was a much-anticipated and surreal experience! I am so excited to do some more swimming in Paphos this weekend.