In 2013, the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association began formal collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP). The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association assists the WFP by identifying vessels that can provide rapid assistance during an emergency.
– The collaboration came about as a result of the typhoon in the Philippines in 2013. There are many Filipino seafarers on board Norwegian ships, and many came from areas that were hardest hit. This triggered a great desire to be able to assist in bringing emergency aid to these areas, says CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, Harald Solberg.
The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association redeployed a ship from the training centre in the Philippines, and this ship was the first to reach Tacloban, one of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon’s destruction. Another ship was also made available to assist in the relief work. At the same time, Wilhelmsen assisted with a survey of the status of all relevant ports in the region, which became a very important planning tool in the upcoming operations.
– Norway, as one of the world’s largest maritime nations, has a long tradition of assisting when disasters occur. At the same time, close ties with the Philippines made the situation in 2013 very special, and it became clear that the Norwegian fleet could be an important emergency preparedness resource beyond cooperation with the Norwegian authorities, says Solberg.
The result was a collaboration agreement with the World Food Program. Since the agreement took effect, Norwegian shipping companies have assisted several times when emergency aid was needed due to conflicts or natural disasters, including the evacuation of UN personnel from Yemen in 2015. At that time, the Norwegian ship Hawk Explorer was central in the mass evacuation of foreign aid workers, diplomats and guest workers.
The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association is often asked to assist when there is little time and an urgent need to locate available tonnage. Experience shows that shipowners are willing to go to great lengths to be able to help.
– We are proud to be a WFP partner and the only shipping organization in the world that has formalized such a commitment, says Solberg.