by Curtis Hand, images from Almaco
While the coffee is brewing in a machine for someone’s cup somewhere, Maritime Defence Monitor (MDM) had a rare opportunity to catch up with and interview a spokesman for a Finland-based international company that specialises in crew (and guests) accommodations on warships (also off-shore and freight and pleasure ships).
Mr Jussi Laimi, Vice President for New Sales of the Accommodation Systems Division at Almaco gave us some of his time and insights about the challenges and solutions unique to their business when addressing naval crew accommodations.
MDM: Let us start with the basics – when and why was Almaco founded – what design and fitting services did it start with?
JUSSI LAIMI (JL): We started in the cruise business with modernisation projects, where our approach was to be more flexible and allow owners to do works during cruises and avoid extensive and expensive drydocks. We were known for being the “miracle maker” and were able to execute complex projects that others steered away from.
MDM: What are Almaco’s top five USPs over its nearest competitors?
JL: We are mobile and global in the true sense of the word. We can execute projects no matter where the location. Almaco has a rather unique product portfolio and have full services for hotel areas onboard any vessel. we can design and deliver all systems for accommodation and catering areas. We are well diversified in our projects ranging from superyachts to offshore vessels and we can bring synergies from each segment that we work with.
Almaco is constantly striving towards being the most advanced player in our field. During our 24 years of executing projects, we have always been a frontrunner in bringing new technology to the table. Almost all vessels in the world that operate in the cruise industry have some products that we have delivered, which gives us extensive experience and understanding of what matters for end users and owners.
MDM: What are some of the most challenging projects or situations that Almaco overcame?
JL: There have been a multitude of challenging situations throughout the years that many others could have not succeeded in. We have faced natural disasters and other unexpected situations during projects. We are very aware that unforeseen things can happen in projects and that it’s crucial to be well prepared ahead of time to tackle whatever may come.
MDM: Who is better protected and housed, commercial shipping crews or naval crews? Why is this?
JL: Different segments of maritime operations expose themselves to different kinds and degrees of danger on board and good design is needed to mitigate risks. If the planned operation and routes of the vessel are well taken care of, the crew on a naval or cruise vessel are equally safe in their daily work.
MDM: Where does Almaco have offices or operations? With rising tensions around the world – concerning sea lanes, etc. – which sort of operational difficulties does this pose?
JL: We have been global throughout our history and currently operate in 8 countries on almost all continents. Our experience and global presence have prepared us to constantly stay up to date on tensions or changes in the business and maritime environment and plan accordingly.
MDM: Which are the lessons learned when designing and outfitting naval ship accommodations?
JL: No matter what the vessel’s planned operation is, many things come down to the same principles. For example, if the crew’s food service and living spaces are better than the bare minimum, the crew can operate much more efficiently. Good living spaces on a naval vessel should not be uncomfortable and cramped spaces, where relaxing is impossible.