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Competition prompts moves to maintain top position
Increasing capacity at Gibraltar Port as part of a plan to boost the wider economy has become “the dream job” for a local man, who spent 15 years at sea and turned down the chance of working in a key role at NATO headquarters in America to take up the challenge, Ray Spencer discovers
consuming. It was a complete change and came out of the blue,” he admits.
Sanguinetti accepts Gibraltar and its port are physically small by comparison with most others that seek to become dominant players in the marine handling sector, but rationalises: “I was struck by the scale and breadth of activity that takes place in and from the Port of Gibraltar and its ability to pull together the bunker supplier, the companies that provide the fuel, the shipping agent who is going to sort out crew changes, flights, hotel accommodation, and the ship chandler who is going to provide fresh supplies or emergency spares.”
“I challenge anyone to point to another location, another port - strategically placed at the meeting point of a large number of very busy shipping lanes at the entrance to the Mediterranean - that is able to do that.” Gibraltar had supported both military and commercial shipping for centuries, “so it’s in our DNA.”
Competition is driving changes in the way the port operates in its three principle activities, bunkering, cruise ships and super yachts, after business falls following the glob- al economic crisis. “Our objective against that backdrop, has been to try and make our- selves more attractive, continuously improve the way we do business”, he maintains.
Enhanced management information shared between the Authority and other entities using the Port, such as pilots, shipping agents and other service providers is delivered through VMS – a real-time vessel management web-based system. In 2014 incentives were introduced to encourage ships to call at the Port, including reduced fees for vessels taking on supplies or crew on the east side of the Rock – one of two 14-strong anchorages - and a discount on port fees for ships that complete re-fuelling operations within an allocated time slot.
20% more anchorage
Although getting proportionately less revenue than previously, Sanguinetti maintains “it is not always the financial incentives” that contribute to growth, and he notes: “It’s also improvement of the efficiency in the way we manage ships coming into the Bay, both by the information system and doubling in the number of VTS (vessel traffic services) operators in the last two years, as well as increasing the number of anchorage slots available for bunkering on the west side by over 20%.”
He goes further: “We attribute our
Bob sanguienetti Fifty	one	years	old	Royal	Navy
“providing military commanders with the best possible information, political, geographical, military, security threats and so on”.
He had returned to Gibraltar for regular short visits to see relatives a couple of times after leaving aged 18 for a sponsored university scheme involving a year based at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth before studying engineering at Oxford University where he gained a Masters degree. Having left Gibraltar on one occasion with no plans to return for several months, he was surprised to be flown a couple of days later back to the Rock along with 90 other naval trainees to join his first ship, HMS Berwick, that had bro- ken down in the Mediterranean on her way back to Plymouth!
“Bizarrely, I also took up my second ship command, the frigate HMS Grafton [one of eight ships on which he served] at end-1998 in Gibraltar. I was delighted and proud to be serving afloat at a time when very few Gibraltarians were in the UK military.”
Swapping sea for land
Half his service career was at sea, but Sanguinetti abandoned ships in late 2000 and took the conventional shore-based route “to the next level of management; having been a practitioner, you then start being a planner and thinker, working on strategy, human resources, and so on”, he explains.
However, Sanguinetti reflects: “If I had been writing a job description for something that I wanted to do on leaving the Navy after 30+ years, it would have looked very much like my terms of responsibility in this role.	It provided immersion in the maritime environ- ment, which is very much in my veins; it had a strong commercial bias to it; it had interaction with a wide-range of stake holders, both public and private sectors local and international; opportunities for growth; and underpinning all of that, working with people.
“I had never before seriously considered the possibility of coming back to Gibraltar, but when this came up it became all-
looking for “continuous improvement” to remain competitive	people separately alerted him to the
opportunity in mid-2014 to become Captain of the Port with its main activity on the west side of The Rock, just 2.5 nautical miles from the Spanish mainland across the Bay of Gibraltar.
“I don’t know why they did that – they must have thought with my Navy background of over 30 years, it could be of interest – but when I began my research on the scope of activity at the Port, I found myself becoming more and more sucked into the possibility”, he recalls. “And I hadn’t ever before written aCV.”
Sanguietti went to Bayside School and was “always messing about in boats “being a member of the Calpe Rowing Club.
The NATO job in Virginia, and a possible promotion, meant moving from London with his wife Sylvia and three teenage daughters – “an exciting prospect, something different as we had never lived abroad as a family”.
For the previous two years he was Head of Intelligence at the UK’s National Operations Headquarters in North London,
Commodore Bob Sanguienetti had no
intention of returning to the Rock where he grew up.	Not, that is, until two local
18	Gibraltar International

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