Ben Line Agencies’ global partner – WaterFront carves new territory with Houston move

18 July 2019 – Global port agency business, WaterFront Maritime Services (WaterFront) has today opened a local agency office in Houston, Texas. The company, which is one of the world’s largest port agency networks, says its Houston office has been established to help charterers, owners, and operators to manage their risk in this strategically important high-volume location.

WaterFront’s Houston office is managed by newly appointed Director for North America Lars Westerberg, a port agency industry veteran who was formerly Regional Director Americas for Seven Seas and Managing Director of Wallem Americas. Prior to these roles, Westerberg also served as Regional Managing Director of Inchcape Shipping Services in North and Central America.

The team in WaterFront’s Houston office will attend vessels directly from Corpus Christi to Lake Charles, including all terminals and all facilities. The Houston office will also serve as the regional hub for WaterFront in North, South and Central America including the Caribbean and is linked to WaterFront’s existing regional hubs in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur to provide 24-hour coverage to its global client base.

Terry Gidlow, Chief Executive Officer of WaterFront, commented:

“On a global basis we see how significant political developments, evolving trade policies and rapid shifts in the supply and demand of raw materials and bulk commodities are impacting traditional trade patterns. Meaning our clients are faced with a whole new range of opportunities and challenges in executing their day to day business. With the opening of our Houston office we are able to bolster the presence we have in other major oil & gas import/export and refining centres such as the Middle East and in Asia.”

The WaterFront global network currently handles more than 45,000 port calls per year through a network of 483 offices in 93 countries worldwide. Unlike other global agencies, Waterfront focuses on providing port and husbandry services for vessels transporting coal, grains, iron ore, minor bulks as well as crude oil, clean and dirty products, chemicals and gas. The company also handles the husbandry requirements of 3rd party and in-house ship managers.

WaterFront’s Director for North America, Lars Westerberg, commented:

“By focusing on specific commodities, we can work with customers operating in this region to add quantifiable value to their businesses. Our work is all about understanding our clients business and their  specific needs and then using our local knowledge and relationships to assist them to mitigate their risk, turn their vessels and cargoes around faster and save them money, while maintaining the highest levels of  safety and compliance.”

Terry Gidlow, chief executive officer of WaterFront, added:

“Lars and his team in Houston bring to the table decades of local experience and relationships in ports and terminals throughout Texas. The Regional Hub function of the Houston office also serves to give our clients in North and South America better access to our Global network.

WaterFront was established by leading regional ship agency businesses Sharaf Shipping Agencies and Ben Line Agencies in 2016. WaterFront is headquartered in Dubai with commercial offices in China, Singapore, Dubai, Norway and the USA. WaterFront has strategic partnerships in the rest of North and South America with renowned local partners such as ACGI on the west Coast of the US and Canada, UNIMAR in Brazil and the Ultramar group in Spanish-speaking South America. For more information about the organisation, visit www.waterfront-ms.com

BLA Profile: Terence Uytingban

Date of joining Ben Line Agencies: 01 August 2017
Position: General Manager – Marine Agency and Offshore Services
Current location: Ben Line Agencies Philippines

Capt. Terence has sailed across the globe onboard various types of tankers for over 10 years starting from cadetship until he became captain. His shore-based career started in 2005 as a Manager responsible for the fleet personnel of Eitzen Maritime Services through a Filipino-Norwegian JV company called Aboitiz Jebsen. The company handled close to 400 ships and 10,000 seafarers where Capt. Terence subsequently got involved in various senior management positions covering the areas of Crew Management, Ship Management, HSQE, Training & Career Development, and Marketing.

Here we get to know Capt. Terence a little better.

  • How did you get into the shipping industry? I joined the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in 1992 fresh out of High School with a goal of becoming a Naval Officer. As a cadet, I was sponsored by Mobil Shipping Company Ltd where I did my apprenticeship on two of their VLCCs. Eventually, I got convinced that joining the merchant fleet was a better option, so I joined Shell after graduation and continued sailing thereafter.
  • Who were you with prior joining Ben Line Agencies?I was with Aboitiz Jebsen for 8 years. In 2014, I was invited by UltraShip – a Danish Shipmanagement company under the Ultra group of Chile who wanted to establish a hub in the Philippines. I ran this office as General Manager before joining Ben Line in 2017.
  • What qualities did you bring across to Ben Line Agencies from your previous employer(s)?I was moulded in a highly competitive, fast-paced, multi-culture environment where the default mindset is always move forward and up. I am a strategic thinker who believes in 5 I’s – Insight, Innovation, Influence, Intervention and Integration.
  • What does a typical day involve for you at Ben Line Agencies Philippines?It will always be different but will have either one or a few of below flavours:
    Insight – learn new things and impart knowledge to others (the team).
    Innovation – use technology and creative thinking in delivering better services to clients.
    Influence – bad habits are contagious, introduce new habits to the team.
    Intervention – be aware and act.
    Integration – make every member relevant and their contributions part of the whole.
  • What are the biggest challenges you face in your current role? Matching the existing resources against the business opportunities and time – so much things to do and so little time!
  • How would you describe your leadership style? I am generally a participative leader who would involve and empower my team. However, my professional experience which exposed me to various types of personalities and situations both at sea and ashore makes me shift to situational leadership whenever needed.
  • What has been your finest achievement in your time at Ben Line Agencies Philippines?I have only been part of BLAP for less than a year but have already seen sparks of excellence, passion and shared-vision among the members of the team. For me – it is an inspiration and a source of anticipation for bigger things to come.
  • During your spare time what do you do to unwind? 24 hours in a day is never enough in this kind of business but I endeavour to find quality time with my family to unwind whenever possible. I am also pursuing further studies so that eats up all other spare time available.
  • What is your favourite Filipino food? All-time favourite is adobo – but I also like kare-kare.
  • Finally, what is your message to the team in the Philippines? Vision – Mission – Values: we will define who we are and what we will become.

Ben Line Agencies Philippines Handles Voyager of the Seas in Manila

The Voyager of the Seas on its arrival at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila

Despite weather conditions, Voyager of the Seas, with an overall length of 311.12m and breadth extreme of 47.4m, successfully made its maiden voyage with Ben Line Agencies Philippines on July 20, 2018. Voyager of the Seas is the lead ship of the Voyager class and was the largest cruise ship in the world when it was built in 1999.

Tyler Parker, guest service manager for Voyager of the Seas, remarked that Ben Line Agencies Philippines was very efficient and professional in assisting the crew’s family and guests, most especially in handling clearance procedures. They are looking forward to more Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships to call other ports around the Philippines.

At the bridge, Capt. Sindre Borsheim (Voyager’s Master) and officers from Asian Terminals Inc. and Philippine Ports Authority and Ben Line Agencies Philippines Cruise Ops team during the Welcome and Plaque Exchange Ceremony.

Ben Line Agencies Philippine’s Handles 6th Largest Cruise Ship in the World

The 348 meters Ovation of the Seas in the fender-less Alava Pier of Subic. Ben Line Agencies Philippines arranged the Yokohama fenders.

The months of planning and coordination with various government agencies, port operators, vendors and different business units of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) paid off with the successful maiden calls in Subic and Manila of the Quantum Class cruise ship – MS Ovation of the Seas. This is the largest cruise ship to visit the country and seen to open the gateway for similar vessels to visit the Philippines.

The MS Ovation of the Seas is an 18-deck ship 348 meters long, has a gross tonnage of 168,666, a maximum occupancy of 4,905 passengers and is considered the sixth biggest cruise ship in the world today.

RCI acknowledged the hard work and contribution of Ben Line Agencies Philippines in making this important milestone happen. Realizing the vision did not come easy with additional challenges brought about by the closure of Boracay island, the delay in dredging of South Harbor (cruise berth) and all the birth pains of bringing the largest ever cruise ship to enter the Philippines.

We now set our eyes on the next cruise giant – the MS Voyager of the Seas scheduled to arrive in Manila on July 20 with even deeper draft (9.1 meters) than MS Ovation of The Seas.

747 Air Charter

Project shipment via air from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to General Santos/ Philippines, chartering a Malaysian Airlines 747 cargo aircraft.
Following which customs clearance at destination and overland transport to client’s powerplant site was undertaken. Cargo was made up of 21 packages of air preheater
parts, with a combined size of 51 tons/262 cbm

Client Profile:

A subsidiary of one of the largest power companies in the Philippines

Challenges Faced:

  • A 747 cargo aircraft requires a main deck unloader for unloading but the equipment of the proposed airport of destination (Davao) had been unserviceable for some time already and there was no repair schedule known.
  • The alternate airport (Gensan) had a working unloader but the reliability was uncertain due to the age of the equipment.
  • The said airport only had an aging 2 ton capacity forklift which could not lift the 14 pieces of cargoes that weighed over 2 tons.
  • Customs approval to release the cargo was uncertain since the entry will not be filed immediately due to the tax exemption being applied for by the client.

Project Solving Process:

  • Ben Line was able to source out an aircraft capable of loading all 21 packages in one lift in the form of Malaysian Airlines 747 cargo freighter.
  • General Santos Airport was found out to be the only suitable place to land and unload a 747 cargo aircraft.
  • Ben Line coordinated with the HQ of the ground cargo handler which resulted to the sending of 3 mechanics that serviced the unloader and then remained on site for the duration of the delivery to conduct repairs in case of equipment breakdown.
  • Also dispatched a 7.5ton capacity forklift that handled the handling and loading of the heavy packages.
  • Through close coordination and the good relationship of BLPL with customs authorities, the cargo was cleared within the same day of arrival.