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Understanding SWOT In The Context Of Maritime Operations

by Eva Gilbert

When a maritime operations consulting firm works with a client, they'll try to break down some of the challenges and opportunities facing the company. SWOT is a common framework for initially analyzing a maritime operation and performing annual reviews. The acronym stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Here is how a maritime operations consulting company is likely to address each.


Knowing your operation's strengths is critical to maximizing its financial returns. A company's physical locations might give it easy access to key sea lanes or major ports, for example. If a firm has strong contracts with its labor force, then that is a source of strength, too. Long-term arrangements with consistent suppliers can also provide strength, especially if your operations rely heavily on replacement parts or fueling.


You also need to be acutely aware of your organization's weaknesses. Suppose an oil company operates tankers that are only legally allowed to operate in certain regions because of environmental regulations. That is likely to be a weakness because the company won't be able to haul oil to richer markets.

Notably, a major goal of identifying weaknesses is to rectify them. If a company has a history of compliance problems, a maritime operations consulting firm would probably recommend process reforms. These can change the company's performance and convince regulators that the organization is now committed to compliance.


Another critical factor in maximizing returns is identifying and seizing opportunities. Suppose your fleet is at the end of its service life. This is an excellent opportunity to modernize it. You might add vessels with hauls and engines that comply with regulations in advanced markets, for example. Similarly, you might purchase vessels that leverage automation to improve efficiency and cut costs.

The market environment can also be a source of opportunities. If the materials market is on the upswing, a firm that hauls iron pellets might add a vessel to ride the economic wave.


One of the main goals in business is to not run out of money. To that end, the best thing your operation can often do is to identify and avoid threats. Suppose competition is increasing in a specific sector and driving rates down. Rather than throw good money at an oversaturated sector, your company might focus on underserved industries. Other threats include political instability, labor strife, regulatory issues, and insufficient financial hedging. A maritime operations consulting company can help you develop response plans for each threat so you'll be ready when a crisis comes.