The Art of Dredging

Dredging and shipping


“You never walk alone”


Captains come in many flavours,

and are perceived by the crew in many different ways.


Likewise, captains may have many different perceptions of the crew onboard their ships.


This is my personal view, colored by the fact that –in the company in which I am employed- crew are assigned to the same ships for many years.

This has the obvious advantage that crew may

have a high degree of involvement in the ship’s

management and performance.


Dredging is teamwork.


It’s a completely different game than working on a merchant ship.

Dredging is science, is feeling, is knowhow, is experience.

(Well yes; you might say that dredging is an art.)


Dredging is a complex job, bringing together people

with many different specializations, and from many different backgrounds. They all have their own characters,

opinions, experience and mindsets.


Dredging efficiently can only be achieved when all this knowhow and energy is bundled together.


Nobody owns the complete dredging knowhow alone.


Communciation is 50% of the job, and can trigger teambuilding.


When all crewmembers tie together to make the dredger work in a most efficient way, and ideally they can all make that their primal goal, submitting their own person to the total result,

then and only then 100% efficiency is within reach.


And once in a while I feel that this goal is reached, and that the dredger’s output cannot be improved,  that we are really making the ship run at the top of its capabilities.


Personal involvement –of everyone onboard-

in the result of the ship makes for great job

satisfaction and great results.


For all the trying and hardships on a big dredger,

the perfect world is seldom reached, but the willingness

to aim high must always be kept alive.


A good crew is the foundation of everything else onboard.

A good crew can turn a “difficult” ship into a smoothly running ship.


I’ve seen it more times, how individuals team up,

and how the result is more than the sum of the parts.




The relation between the crew and their captain is a complex one.


The days of authoritarian behaviour are past,

and such behaviour is hardly accepted by anyone onboard.

A captain must find other ways to keep things

together nowadays, to make crew focus, to involve them

in the broad perspective.


A strong hierarchy is –without doubt- a source of uncorrected errors.

If I make a mistake in my job (as a captain onboard),

I want to hear a crewmember correct me,

and not be afraid to do so.

It would be downright foolish to presume I am always right,

leave no room for errors, and be unapproachable for the crew.


A captain goes nowhere without his crew.


Dredging is teamwork, from the bottom up.


With a good team you can go to hell and come back.

And still have a ship after that.


Anybody who thinks differently, may prove me wrong.






Marc Van de Velde



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