Stories from the Sea




IMO is gearing up for the fifth edition of its annual Day of the Seafarer campaign (25th June) to celebrate the unsung heroes of shipping across the globe. This year’s theme, A Career At Sea, aims to help address the predicted shortage of seafarers in the future by promoting and highlighting the positive benefits of choosing a career at sea. For this occasion we asked some of our most recent joiners why they chose a life at sea, here is what they had to say!



Lucky at Sea...Definitely!

Christoph Grams
Third Officer
Polarcus Naila

When I was a child my family and I spent every minute during our summer holidays on our small sailing yacht in the North and Baltic Sea. At a very early stage I knew what I wanted, and that was to drive the real BIG SHIPS! At the age of 15 I did my first volunteer traineeship on board a small container vessel which inspired me to go further, at 25 I completed Navigational Studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen, at 2011 I became active as an Officer on board Merchant Vessels.

Often I get asked “Why are you working so long time at Sea?”
Simple answer...I like the variety between life at sea and ashore. If you are on board you are 100% on the offshore job, if you are at home you are 100% at home for the family, friends and your hobbies, no other job offers you this possibility.

Since 2014 I have been a Deck Officer on the Polarcus Naila and I am responsible for the safe navigation of this technically and environmentally advanced seismic vessel and the 60 lives on board. The large towed seismic cables, which can be an array up to 10 kilometers in length and 1.6 kilometers wide, makes this one of the largest moving objects on the ocean.

For an Officer of the Watch this is always very challenging because for other vessels it is not obvious that we are covering this extra-large area and I have to make sure that they keep well clear. Furthermore there are a lot of operations ongoing, like Helicopter landings or Workboat missions, and at all times I must focus on safety as the first priority while maintaining the production of the high quality seismic data. 

Christoph Grams

Nowadays with all the communications facilities at Polarcus you are in close contact with everybody and it doesn’t matter where you actually are.

When it is close to the end of my holiday leave my family and friends often ask me “Are you sad to go back on board? “
Honestly I tell them: “Yes and No”.

I am sad to leave them at home alone, but I am also bit lucky as well, as I get to go back on board and travel around the world with my good shipmates on the Naila. In one Year while working with Polarcus I have visited so many different countries and cultures.

That’s why I am Lucky at Sea, definitely!



In it for the adventure!

Kurtis McGonigle
Third Engineer
Polarcus Naila

I think, when I was about 16, I realised that whatever I chose to do for a profession would have a large effect on my life since so much of life is spent at work - and I wanted to do something adventurous and interesting.

It was suggested to me that I should consider the Merchant Navy. I could train as an engineer on a cargo ship, travel the world, and have paid sponsorship while I attended I applied and was accepted while only 17 years old. However, when I became a qualified Engineering Officer of the Watch, these companies offered little training and required me to spend 4 months on board with 2 months vacation.

I sought employment still working as an Engineering Officer, but within the Oil & Gas industry, but with a company who would invest in training and had technologically advanced vessels, and so I applied to Polarcus in 2011, but I didn't have enough experience. I then worked in the Offshore Platform Supply sector, gaining experience as an Engineering Officer, requesting as much training as possible (while still sending applications to Polarcus approximately every 6 months both Engineering and Mechanical jobs!) . Finally in 2013 the time was right and I joined Polarcus in 2013 Trainee induction. Now I still get to travel the world, but I also get to work on technologically advanced vessels and have lots of opportunity for professional development.

I am hoping to become 2nd Engineer within 2 years, and ultimately Chief Engineer.

Kurtis McGonigle