Sharing a similar maritime passion within the same company. At MF Shipping Group we are proud to have crew on board our vessels who are both family and colleagues! A great reason for us to interview these family members and learn more about the path that led them to our company. This issue features an interview with the Celerio brothers, both of whom are Masters on board the Wisby tankers.
Can you both share a little bit about yourself? How did you end up in the Maritime world?
Francisco: I’m Francisco Celerio, the older brother of Captain Fernando Celerio, and have been an international seafarer since 1984. I have been sailing with Wisby Ship Management since 2004. We were the first crew on the maiden voyage of Wisby Verity in which I was 2nd Officer. In 2009, when Wisby Wave was delivered, I was promoted to Chief Officer. In 2014 I became the Captain of Wisby Verity. I consider these vessels my second home. I was influenced by my late father who happened to be a Chief Engineer. During my childhood days I once visited his vessel when they had a voyage to the Philippines. Seeing the nature of his work in the engine room, which is noisy and hot,
I thought that when I became a seafarer, I would choose to work in the deck department. And so it happened that I studied and graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation.
Fernando: I’m Fernando Celerio, the younger brother of Captain Francisco Celerio. I took my first command as Captain of a Bitumen carrier with Wisby Ship Management in 2013 and was subsequently assigned to various types and sizes of tankers within the fleet. I spent a number of years on an MR tanker trading worldwide before joining MF Shipping Group.
We come from a family of seafarers. During my youth, I met a lot of people in the maritime world. It was through these frequent meetings and meaningful conversations that I began to develop an interest in ships and travel. So, when I had the opportunity to join my brother’s ship on its voyage to the Philippines, I did not think twice. I knew then and there that I belonged in the same profession.
Did you always wanted to be a captain?
Francisco: I never thought that I would reach this far. I have been enjoying the work as a seafarer and without paying much attention to it, I have been advancing into a higher rank with the support and encouragement of Captain Jonas Engstrom.
Fernando: Yes, from the very beginning of my career. I knew it would be an arduous journey, but I persevered to make my dream come true. Through determination, continuous training, and support from my family, I finally became a Captain after 23 years. So far, the surreal feeling of achieving my goal is very much alive in me as I take responsibility for the safety of the vessel and the crew.
What do you like most about your job?
Francisco: Besides the adventure and travel opportunities, it gives me a sense of pride whatever we accomplish. Being the Captain on board entails more challenging work but it also gives me the satisfaction whenever we get to solve different issues on board.
Fernando: The challenges and continuous learning make our job difficult, yet they also contribute to my growth as a leader and a mariner. The challenges on board keep me motivated. New things to learn keep things interesting.
What was the best moment in your so far career?
Francisco: There are a many great moments in my career but the one I treasure the most is the time I was given the opportunity to be the Captain on Wisby Verity.
Fernando: There are several good moments in my career that I can think of, like having my first command and being able to achieve an excellent SIRE inspection. But at the end of the day, nothing beats those moments when I sign off from the vessel knowing that I have fulfilled my obligation that all my crew are in good health and the vessel is in good shape.
What have you learned from each other? What do you think your brother excels at?
Francisco: I believe we have our own strategies and ideas when it comes to ship management. But whenever we have the opportunity, we share and consult each other and exchange ideas and experiences. And I think he excels at reporting.
Fernando: My brother started sailing years before I did. He told me about the challenges of being away from normal life on board a vessel. He shared some of his experiences at sea when I was still at school. This gave me the opportunity to prepare myself physically and mentally before I started this job. I think he excels in crew management and technical knowledge on deck.
How does your family feel about you both doing this job?
Francisco: I’ve been blissfully married for the past 18 years. I think there is a sense of longing because most of the time we are not physically present to celebrate important occasions and events, but they still make us feel that they are proud to have two Captains in the family.
Fernando: I’m happily married and have four children. Seafarers normally spend more time at sea than at home. Unfortunately, I was on board when my daughters were born. However, my family has always been understanding and supportive of my work. Even before the rise of social media, we found ways to communicate with each other via post and the like.
Now that we have shorter contracts and easy access to communication, it is much easier to communicate and update each other frequently. Thanks to video and audio calls and online messaging, my relationship with my family has never been better.
Would you recommend this work for your children?
Francisco: I do not recommend them to take my career path. However, it’s their choice and if they also have a desire to be seafarers, then I would be happy to support them. I have followed my father’s footsteps and now I have reached this far and became a captain. It also makes me proud that I have been working and providing a better life for my family! In the end,
I think I will still choose to be a captain. I am happy and satisfied with my job.
Fernando: I would, but none of them wanted to go down the same path. My wife and I support whatever path they choose. But of course, I’m proud to be part of the maritime world. I’m proud of my wife who has loved, stayed and cared for me for the past 29 years and counting. I’m proud of my loving children who persevere and never give up on their dreams. My eldest daughter is now a lawyer, and my second child is a hospital pharmacist. I’m also proud of my third child, who is starting medical school this year, and my youngest son, who is always reliable at home. And I would change nothing. I would make the same choice and choose this profession.
What do you think is the biggest change coming in the near future?
Francisco: I think it will be more difficult to keep up with the changes in order to comply with a much more precise SIRE 2.0 once it is implemented.
Fernando: We are on our way to zero carbon emissions, and I believe that more and more companies will take steps to achieve this before the target date.
What advice do you have for the new generation?
Francisco: Follow your dreams and pursue your goals in life. Be persistent and keep learning. It will always be rewarding to take on a higher position and greater responsibility. Whenever an opportunity arises, seize it to prove yourself worthy.
Fernando: Our profession is a continuous learning process. Train, study and be prepared. Always persevere. When times are tough, remember why you chose this profession. It will keep you going. Do not make decisions based on your emotions. Be accountable and do not be afraid to take responsibility for your actions. These things will make you a better mariner and a better person.