Established in 1974 and acquired by Wilhelmsen Ship Services in 2005, the WSS Vancouver office is home to only nine people. Together, they are responsible for a variety of activities relating to Ships Agency, Logistics and Warehousing and Safety Services.
Words by Isabelle Kliger – Photos by Jimmy Jeong
Situated on an industrial estate in Burnaby, 15 km east of downtown Vancouver, the WSS Vancouver office is in easy striking distance of many of the ports it serves. The Port of Vancouver is a 30-minute drive away, while the car terminals along the banks of the Fraser River are a short 10-minute drive from the office.
Although Canada is a large, sprawling country, Wayne Mondy, who took over as the Manager of the Ships Agency side of the business for WSS Vancouver four years ago, works with only one other colleague to cover every Canadian port to which they provide an agency service. This includes Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and the ports that are dotted along the coastline of British Columbia, all the way up to Prince Rupert, which lies 1 600 km north of Vancouver. The office also provides agency services to most ports in eastern Canada, including the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, along with ports on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, such as Quebec and Montreal, through the numerous locks and into the Great Lakes.
“WSS Vancouver serves the nearby ports directly, but some of the more remote ones are looked after on a day-to-day basis by contracted sub agents,” explains Wayne, whose main responsibilities include overseeing berthing and departure and visiting vessels while they are in port, to ensure that any needs are met. One of the key ways in which WSS supports these vessels is through Husbandry Services, which include crew changes and Cash To Master (CTM) requests, as well as the coordination and provision of spare parts.
Aside from Wayne and his colleague on the Ships Agency side, WSS Vancouver also employs three people in Logistics & Warehousing, three in Safety Services, and one chemical sales engineer. The safety staff is dedicated to deliver services in accordance with our agreement with Survitec.
Tom Schjelderup, who heads up the Logistics and Warehousing operation at WSS Vancouver, joined the company in 1997. Together, he and two colleagues provide vessels with chemicals, gases, including welding gas, welding consumables, mooring ropes, and an array of maintenance products while they are in port.
“We supply the material and equipment the vessels need for their daily maintenance to ensure that they are in suitable condition to trade,” says Tom, adding that WSS Vancouver also handles the supply coordination for the WSS Seattle office.
In Safety Services, WSS Vancouver provides safety equipment, such as CO2 systems and fire fighting equipment, and carries out service and maintenance on fire fighting equipment and life rafts in accordance with our agreement with Survitec. Finally, the Chemical Sales Engineer supports the chief engineers on board the vessels with maintaining engine rooms and boiler tanks.
According to Tom, there is no such thing as a typical day in a busy shipping office.
“You never know what is going to happen on any given day – that is why the work here never gets bland,” he says.
While days at WSS Vancouver may not follow a specific formula, they tend to have certain things in common.
“Due to the time difference between our customers in Europe and us, we start early. I am usually reading my emails by around 6 a.m.,” says Wayne. “If I have a ship in port, I will stop by the office briefly before racing out to the port to oversee activities there. At the end of the day, I am back to coordinate any needs the ship might have.”
“We are a small office, so everyone here knows everyone else’s job. Being a small operation means we are like a family unit – a close-knit team in which everyone is flexible and quick to step up when needed,” adds Tom.
Both Tom and Wayne are clear on what their number one priority is.
“Our most important task is being available to the vessels while they are in the ports we service. We are here to provide a service to our customers 24/7,” Wayne concludes.