Safeguarding the Seafaring Community with SMOU

Founded in 1951, the Singapore Maritime Officers Union (SMOU) promotes strong industry relations between seafaring officers and their employers, protecting the interests and wellbeing of the sea-going community through collective bargaining agreements. We sat down with Dominic Yong, Industrial Relations Assistant Manager and Young SMOU Chairman to find out more. 

Discovering Your Calling in Maritime 
Dominic delivers a presentation at the 2023 Union Awareness Talk

Can you tell us more about yourself and how you came to embark on a career in the maritime industry?

Hello, I am Dominic, an Industrial Relations Assistant Manager at Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), and the chairman of Young SMOU! To be honest, I never expected myself to enter the maritime industry. It all started with my mother telling me, “Maritime is good. If there’s water, there’s a job.” Curious, I enrolled in the Singapore Maritime Academy’s Diploma in Maritime Transportation Management programme. Those three years in Singapore Polytechnic really widened my knowledge of this unique field, and with the support of SMOU, I went on to complete the BSc in Maritime Business and Maritime Logistics course at the University of Plymouth.

What are some of your responsibilities as an Industrial Relations Officer and the Young SMOU Chairman?

In the Industrial Relations Division, we meet frequently with industry stakeholders to establish good rapport and strong partnerships, including government agencies such as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), shipping employers, and other companies. A large part of my job involves conferring with companies to collectively agree on working rights and entitlements for our seafarers. Additionally, I handle grievance cases ranging from unfair treatment to unpaid wages. My team also regularly engages with many seafarer unions across the planet.

Dominic facilitates a workshop for YSMOU Mariners

As the Chairman of Young SMOU, my team and I strive to foster a vibrant community for young seafarers through youth engagement initiatives such as networking events, sharing sessions, and workshops. This creates a space for newcomers to connect with seasoned professionals.

Growing and Engaging the Seafaring Community
Dominic at the 2023 Young Seafarers Conversation

The SMOU works closely with international labour organisations and its union counterparts. What are some trends in maritime talent attraction you have observed? 

When it comes to attracting maritime talent, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a major trend impacting the job market today. The industry is actively creating a more inclusive environment, promoting gender equality and diversity of educational backgrounds. Maritime digitalisation has also sparked a growing demand for professionals skilled in maritime technology and innovation. It is great to see more training and development programmes in the pipeline to ensure our workforce is equipped with the skills to ride this tide of industry transformation, whether at sea or onshore.

YSMOU Women’s Seafarer Get-Together is a key platform to build a cohesive female seafaring community

 Fostering human connection and a sense of community is at the heart of SMOU’s work. While preserving this human element, how does SMOU leverage digitalisation to optimise its work in supporting union members? 

I believe many share my sentiment that the COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed a global shift toward digitalisation. At SMOU, we leverage Zoom to conduct webinars, workshops, and even celebrate end-of-year events online, ensuring continued engagement with our members. Digital platforms like our Telegram channel (@SMOU_EMPLOYMENT) connect young seafarers with job opportunities in real-time, meaning the platform is constantly refreshed with new openings.

This integration of digital tools enhances our human-centric approach by enabling us to provide support for our members even at sea. Moreover, it reflects our spirit of striving for operational efficiency as we refine work processes so our staff can better serve the industry.

Engaging and Retaining Talent

YSMOU Youth Maritime E-Forum conducted on Zoom

Based on your experience, what are some effective ways of retaining seasoned sea-going professionals in the industry

Companies and the government should offer a good work-life balance and consider the well-being of seafarers, even onshore. This fosters a positive and supportive work environment that incentivises existing seafarers to stay in the industry.

Besides offering competitive wages, benefits like healthcare, retirement plans, and other perks improve well-being and job security, which leads to higher retention rates. Opportunities for continuous learning and career advancement also keep seafarers motivated to pursue professional excellence within the organisation.

Building a Singaporean Core

From your experiences, what are some top concerns our youths and young adults have about a seafaring career? What can we as an industry do to allay these concerns

I would say safety at sea, concerns pertaining to family, finances, and work-life balance. While seafarers play an integral role in moving almost 90% of world trade, they too wish to return to their families after long periods at sea. As an industry, we can facilitate more open dialogues with seafarers through focus groups or consultation exercises, allowing them to weigh in on important decision-making processes through their experiences and challenges.

Initiatives to enhance safety protocols, improve communication technology at sea, and create flexible work arrangements for seafarers can also contribute to alleviating these concerns.

Dominic sharing his experience with youths at a YSMOU event

What are some resources SMOU provides which can help Singapore’s younger demographic make a strong start in a seafaring career

SMOU has been contributing towards scholarships such as the Tripartite Maritime Scholarship Scheme (TMSS), MaritimeONE scholarships, and most recently, the Sail Milestone Achievement Programme (SailMAP). Our members also have access to subsidies for relevant courses to gain new competencies.

SMOU also collaborates extensively with industry stakeholders and government agencies to raise awareness of seafarers’ rights and safety. Initiatives such as mentorship programs, educational outreach in schools, and workshops are run by senior seafarers to help younger professionals navigate complexities in their career journeys.

Be it building the perfect resume, optimising your LinkedIn profile, or taking steps towards making a mid-career switch, the MaritimeONE blogposts serve as an excellent guide to kickstart your career journey into maritime. Click here to find out more!


Inaugural MSC Maritime Digital Challenge Grand Finals Prize Presentation

Over 129 tertiary students across 35 teams took part in the inaugural MSC Maritime Digital Challenge that seeks to plug Singapore students with a passion for technology into the maritime industry.
Students from the Singapore Management University and Nanyang Polytechnic were announced as winners of the challenges posed by Eastport Maritime, Kanda and Torvald Klaveness at the Prize Presentation held on 13 November 2021.

MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021

Three challenge statements, 35 teams, 129 students and 12 finalist teams from 4 universities & 3 polytechnics. Catch behind-the-scene highlights of the MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021.

Singapore Maritime Foundation | MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021

Catch highlights of the MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021. We thank Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport Mr. Chee Hong Tat for being our Guest-of-Honour at the event.

SMF New Year Conversations 2022: Year-in-Perspective Video

The past two years of learning to live with Covid-19 has been challenging, but Maritime Singapore has remained resilient. What are the fundamental tenets that attract companies to anchor their business in Singapore and grow their operations here? And what more can be done to leverage on Singapore’s strengths to enhance its attractiveness as a global business hub for maritime companies? How will the Singapore Maritime Foundation organize its work around Connectivity, Innovation and Talent to strengthen the maritime ecosystem? Find out in this Year-in-Perspective video.

SMF New Year Conversations 2022: Opportunities Amid Disruptions

The 2022 SMF New Year Conversations that took place on 13 January 2022 was graced by Guest-of-Honour Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Transport & Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations. Over 250 industry leaders across the breadth of maritime attended physically and virtually.
Singapore was announced to have secured the overall top spot as an international maritime centre for the fifth consecutive time in the DNV-Menon Leading Maritime Cities 2022 report.
Thank you to our industry partners for your strong support.

Mr. Lars Kastrup


Mr. Lars Kastrup is the Chief Executive Officer of Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd (PIL).

Prior to joining PIL, Mr. Kastrup was CEO of NOL/APL, and subsequently assumed the role of Executive Vice President, Strategy and M&A at CMA CGM Group. A veteran in the global shipping industry with over 30 years of experience, Mr Kastrup’s other roles include Executive Vice President of Assets at CMA CGM Group heading up CMA Terminals, CMA Ships, Container Logistics as well as regional carriers such as MacAndrews, OPDR and Mercosul; as well as Vice President at AP Moller-Maersk.
Mr. Kastrup complemented his tertiary education with leadership and management training at Penn State University and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Angeline Teo


Ms. Angeline Teo is the Managing Director and Head of Global Transportation and Offshore, Global Corporate Banking at OCBC Bank which focuses on the maritime, aviation, land & port ecosystems.
Ms. Teo has spent over three decades in maritime finance. Prior to OCBC, Ms. Teo was working at ING Bank, ABN Amro and DnB in Singapore focusing on maritime and offshore.
Ms. Teo graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Business Administration.

Mr. John Martin


Mr. John Martin began his career in London in 1989 with Richards Hogg Lindley Average Adjusters, and qualified as a Fellow of the UK Association of Average Adjusters in 2000.
At RHL he worked in their offices in Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In 2003 he joined Gard Hong Kong, as a claims handler. Mr. Martin also worked in Gard Japan, and in 2014 he moved to Singapore to set up the Gard Singapore office.
Besides running Gard Singapore, Mr. Martin also heads the P&I and H&M claims units and is the Senior Claims Representative for Gard in Asia.

Mr. Cyril Ducau


Mr. Cyril Ducau is the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte Ltd, a leading shipping company headquartered in Singapore for the past 30 years.

He is also currently the Chairman of Kenon Holdings Ltd and a member of the board of directors of Gard P&I (Bermuda) Ltd. and of the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation Limited, which was established by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. He was previously Head of Business Development of Quantum Pacific Advisory Limited in London from 2008 to 2012 and acted as Director and Chairman of Pacific Drilling SA between 2011 and 2018.
Prior to joining Quantum Pacific Advisory Limited, Mr. Ducau was Vice President in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley & Co. International Ltd. in London between 2000 and 2008.
Mr. Ducau graduated from ESCP Europe Business School (Paris, Oxford, Berlin) and holds a Master of Science in business administration and a Diplom Kaufmann.