Ask The Experts #1: Interview with Jayan Pillai – LNG Shipping Author & Course Director

Aug 25, 2016

Last week, we caught up with the charismatic, Jayan Pillai, to get his view on the rapidly growing LNG shipping industry. His knowledge and experience are respected internationally as a trainer, inspector, author and consultant. We were interested to learn more about the opportunities that exist for those considering a career in this industry and how training can benefit their prospects.

1. Your Maritime career has spanned over 50 years (and counting!) – how have you seen the industry change over this time?

JN   –   Ships have remained basically the same for over 100 years. What has changed is the technology and size of ships. When I first went to sea in the 1960s, my first ship, a large bulk carrier had a crew of 65. A similar ship today would have 20 or less crew. Technology has made working “smarter” on modern ships. When at sea, the Navigation Bridge has to be manned 24 hours a day. Engineers have UMS (Unmanned Machinery Spaces), so they do day work, and automated systems look after the machinery plant, with a duty engineer’s oversight. Containerisation has also reduced time in port. One of the major challenges faced today is the level of legislation, which governs the shipping industry, and the importance of understanding requirements for compliance. The IMO and Flag Administrations have very strict procedures on completion of paperwork and documentation, which every seafarer will need to be competent in completing. A modern day challenge is the reluctance of many Ship Owners and Industry Bosses to fund Maritime Training and ownership of this often falls to the individual in order to further their Maritime career.

2. We know there is an ever-increasing demand for LNG as a clean fuel, how is the shortage of trained personnel affecting the industry?

JN –   The LNG Shipping sector is relatively small compared to other shipping sectors. Nevertheless, with a 25% increase in new LNG Ships, the LNG Industry is suffering from a shortfall of competent staff. Both office and ship’s staff are paid the highest salaries in the commercial shipping sector. There maybe a reluctance to join the LNG Shipping Industry due to the nature of the work; dealing with flammable gas. LNG = Liquefied Natural Gas at minus 1620C. LNG is basically liquefied Methane Gas (plus some impurities).

However, any such fears are easily put aside with proper training: ‘understanding safety procedures instils confidence and reduces any inaccurate perception of risk’.

3. What are the current prospects for someone joining the LNG shipping industry?

JN   – Despite the worldwide recession, which has affected the Shipping and Maritime Industry, the LNG Shipping market continues to grow. Salaries of senior LNG Ships’ Officers continue to be double that of the Cruise Industry. They work for 6 months in the year and enjoy 6 months of paid leave. Head-office staff are also paid a far higher salary than their counterparts in other Shipping sectors.

4. What do you feel is the benefit for someone joining the industry with this diploma against someone who hasn’t?

JN – The LNG Shipping Diploma is unique, as there is no other Training Establishment that offers an equivalent. The LNG Diploma covers a very wide range; from Design, Build, Operation, to Management of LNG Ships. It is written in a manner that a newcomer can learn about LNG Shipping in one complete package, at an affordable price. The diploma will also enhance the knowledge and gaps that even the most experienced person has of the industry.

5. In your opinion, what are the benefits of MTA’s courses?

JN – I have trained and taught on ships (worked with over 40 Nationalities and speak 6 languages) and Training Establishments in the UK, China and India, including 2 years training British Army Engineers. I have delivered technical and maritime safety presentations in the UK, Belgium, Portugal, Croatia, China and India. A common theme I found was that Trainers and Lecturers work in isolation, with little or no teamwork and sharing of knowledge. Maritime Training Academy understands the importance of collaboration among experts and the value of the sharing of knowledge, for their students to tap into.

6. And finally, how do you think the LNG shipping industry is likely to develop in the future?

JN – The LNG Shipping Industry and Sector will continue to have a bright future. LNG requires 600 times less space on an LNG Ship, when compared to Natural Gas at ambient temperature, which makes it more economical to transport. It is also a clean fuel, with a lower carbon footprint than Coal or Fuel Oils. Worldwide gas reserves are in excess of 200 years. The methane hydrates at the bottom of the oceans have yet to be tapped. After large passenger ships, LNG Ships are the most expensive commercial ships (costing around £200 million to build). They are highly automated with crew comfort of the highest standard on board. LNG Ships also have the best safety record in the Shipping Industry, despite methane being a flammable gas. LNG ships have on average 35 crew, so “minimum manning” is not much of an issue as regards stress and fatigue. LNG is also one of the cleanest cargoes.

The overall picture is that the LNG industry is growing and will continue to do so. There is an increasing demand for those willing to invest in training and therefore prove their knowledge and skill. Once they join the industry, the prospects for development, with good pay and working conditions, are excellent.


Jayan Peter PillaiJayan Peter Pillai


Jayan has 50 years experience in the Maritime Industry as a Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. He has served as a Chief Engineer on a large variety of ships. He has been a Flag State Inspector and Specialist, Trainer, Lecturer and Technical Consultant and Ship Inspector. He has conducted LNG Training Courses in the UK and China. He has also worked in the manufacturing industry and conducted statutory inspections of all types of machinery plant.