As superyachts continue to increase is value, size and complexity, OnlyCaptains has recognised that the traditional three page PDF CV is no longer sufficient to ensure the correct placement of captains, especially as the expectations and responsibilities placed on the shoulders of captains has grown in line with the size of the vessels themselves. SuperyachtNews speaks with Brendan O’Shannassy, co-founder of OnlyCaptain, about the new executive search and command mentoring service.

“The initial idea for OnlyCaptains is actually a positive reflection on The Superyacht Group,” starts O’Shannassy. “It came about during The Superyacht Forum when one of the panellists, Gunther Alvarado from Al Seer Marine, asked whether or not, with vessels worth in excess of €300m, is a three page PDF CV and some reference calls really good enough?

“We are not disparaging the current model of contingency placements, but once the captain has been placed and the invoice is paid then that is the current model finished. From my owner experience, Malcolm Jacotine has been my mentor for a number of years. On paper, I am arguably one of the more experienced captains out there, but I couldn’t have done it on my own. It was invaluable having a mentor, and that was in the back of our mind when we created OnlyCaptains.”

The success of a superyacht and the overall ownership experience relies heavily on the competencies and character of the captain, but how does an owner effectively recruit and retain the most talented captain? OnlyCaptains has developed a three-part service model to aid in the process.

Firstly, OnlyCaptains uses executive search techniques, underpinned by an established industry network, extensive command experience, structures assessment protocols, a panel of psychometric tests developed specifically for captains and senior offices in the maritime industry.

“The first stage is ‘search and select’. Unlike contingency recruitment that requires sorting through a number of CVs, search and select is a retained service wherein we handpick captains and assess their competencies,” continues O’Shannassy. “We are not interested in building a CV pile, we will pick the ripest fruit from the vine that matches the client brief and then assess them based on the required levels.”

Once a captain has been placed, the second stage of the service focuses on supporting the owner and mentoring the captains to ensure that the relationship between the two parties does not break down.

“We check in with the client to ensure that the cap between owner and captain doesn’t wide,” explains O’Shannassy. “We will speak to the owner about their experiences of the trip and the captain, as well as speaking to the captain to help mentor and advise on operations, leadership and the relationship with the owner. In this manner, we can provide the captain with a trusted independent source of information and ensure they are effectively debriefed.”

The final stage of OnlyCaptains’ service relates to supporting captains and owners with command assessments for captains moving up onto large tonnage and chief officers taking this first command. This can be supplemented by a tailored training and mentoring package.

It is perhaps falsely assumed that simply having a command on a superyacht is enough to suggest the captains have no more lessons to learn. However, O’Shannassy explains that having a license only provides you with a license to begin the learning experience and OnlyCaptains intends to be there throughout this period to help support captains and owners alike.


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