Leen Postma working for MF Shipping Group

The 30-Years journey of Captain Leen Postma

When we announced the 30th anniversary of MF Shipping Group, we received a festive photo of Captain Leen Postma celebrating his 30th anniversary with the company. Congratulations aside, Leen certainly deserves a space on our website. Talking to Leen, we had the pleasure of reflecting on his career.

The beginning

He remembers the beginning well. Leen worked for Wagenborg. After his training at the nautical college in Delfzijl, he started as a sailor on the Eemsborg and eventually rose to the position of second mate. When things slowed down at Wagenborg, a number of ships were sold to the forerunner of MF Shipping Group: Sandfirden. Leen moved with the ship. 

The Eemsborg, first vessel of our client Erik Thun

He remembers well that on 4 April 1984 the Eemsborg, of which Leen was second mate, was sold to Thun. This was Erik Thun AB's first ship under the Dutch flag. In 1985 the ship was lengthened and converted into a self-discharging vessel.

What are the biggest differences over the past 30 years?

It used to be that people knew each other well in MF Shipping Group, which was still a small organisation. Nowadays it is no longer possible to know everyone by name and you meet new colleagues through Fleetlog, for example. Shipping has also changed drastically during this time. From the first acquaintance with a course on a cigar box to the use of advanced systems such as the DECCA system on fishing vessels, AP navigation (a precursor to GPS) and now the ECDIS system.

In the past 30 years, he has sailed on various ships. The passion for water and sailing was already in the blood of the Amelander from a young age, one of the Dutch islands. As a boy of 6/7 years old, he was fascinated by fishing and the sea, and he sailed on fishing boats. He remembers well how navigation, from buoy to buoy, was simply written on the back of a cigar box. He looks back on his youth with pleasure. His father was a farmer, a future that Leen did not see for himself, despite working on a farm on weekends during his youth and mastering milking cows. From the age of 12 to 18, he regularly went on various fishing boats as a holiday worker, both from Ameland and from the coastal town of Scheveningen, where his uncle and aunt lived. This adventurous youth laid the foundation for his career as a sailor. After 30 years, Leen is a seafarer at heart, who couldn't wish for any other profession.

Leen Postma in his younger years

Since 2013 Leen has sailed on the Alice, before that on the Kinne and also on the Leckö. He also worked on the Olivier, both as captain and first mate, together with Bob Kamphuis and Marten van Straten, who still are working for Thun and MF Shipping Group respectively. On board he has a small team of 7 people. They know and trust each other, they know what each other can do, which is good for safety on board. After all, sailing is done together, regardless of rank; everyone is important. You need each other to get on and make the job more enjoyable. Also, two people know more than one and it is important to speak up and dare to ask questions.

An important condition for any seafarer is that things are going well at home. Otherwise, you'll be thinking about home when sailing demands your full concentration. Fortunately, Leen's wife Janneke and her son Bauke provide such a stable home base on Ameland.

Missed the launch of the Thun Reliance?

Thun Reliance launch

Thirty years have flown by, and like the changing weather and unpredictable sea, Leen has seen both calm and stormy times. His life as a sailor is full of adventures that could fill a fleetlog. Think of the time during the Tunisian uprising when he was chained for two packages of wood that had been missing for four years. Or the time he was asked for a 'small gift', which he resolutely refused, asking dryly if they thought he was Santa Claus, complete with red mitre and grey beard. The different voyages, continents and ports have each brought their own challenges, and Leen has risen to them all.

But the biggest change in shipping is undoubtedly the ever-increasing burden of regulations and administrative tasks. Sustainability issues are another major challenge. They are essential for a greener shipping industry and a healthier planet, but they also bring complexity. As for the fuel of the future, Leen doesn't want to put his money on it. There is still a lot of uncertainty and further development is needed.

30 Years MF Shipping Group

What does the future hold in store for Leen?

Over the past 30 years, MF Shipping Group has grown impressively but has always retained its human face. This is a rarity in the international shipping world. Leen sees this as the driving force and success factor behind the company's past, present and future. And let's not forget Karin Orsel, who is at the helm and plays a crucial role in the success of MF Shipping Group.

As long as his health permits and his work does not turn into an office job, Captain Leen will continue to sail for MF Shipping Group until his retirement.