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Captain Paiton: A relationship to have and to hold

Solvang’s crew describe their ships and sailing mates in words of affection. Captain Iriz Paiton goes even further.

On a chilly winter day in Norway 21 years ago, Iriz Paiton laid his eyes on a large Solvang vessel for the first time. The 19 year-old had just been recruited as a cadet back in his home country the Philippines. He had no idea where the gangway was leading as he gazed at the sight of Clipper Skagen.

“I was astounded by the size of the ship, momentarily forgetting the biting cold as I made my way up the gangway. Despite being secured to the terminal, I saw how the vessel swayed in the gale winds. Standing on deck, nearly vomiting,  immersed in cold, I was uncertain what the future could hold for me on this ship. Yet, the crew greeted me with smiles, jokes, and assurances that the real challenge awaited as we headed into the open sea”, Iriz says.


Iriz stayed on deck as Clipper Skagen plowed the high seas, providing the young cadet with just the challenges he needed to realize his talent. During the first years of sailing, he got the grip of everything, gradually building his career up to the position of Master.  Getting to command Clipper Star as one of the youngest employees ever to ascend to the rank of Master in Solvang, Iriz felt the

“I was acutely aware that I needed to excel in order to affirm my capability”, he says.

When entering into the position, the new captain had a pivotal conversation with Solvang’s CEO Edvin Endresen in Stavanger,  instilling confidence and dedication into the talented young man.

“I confessed to the CEO that I felt nervous about living up to the Company’s expectations and my ability to navigate the challenges that would come my way. But he reassured me, emphasizing that the entire shore team was behind me and just a phone call away, in case I should need support”, Iriz says.



Getting to know the crew over time, Iriz - like the other seafarers we interviewed in this report - tends to speak about family. It is no secret that close to all of Solvang’s sailing crew come from the Philippines. Iriz can reveal a few details from his home country’s seamanship.

“Most Filipinos grew up surrounded by the sea, as we live on an archipelago. Coming from many different islands, we naturally adjust to the culture aboard a ship, treating the environment as our own”, Iriz tells.

Additionally, people have strong and close family ties, and they highly value hard work as means to provide for the closest ones.
Together, these values translate into mutuality and team spirit onboard Solvang’s voyages.

“When people are on board working for nine months, they take care of each other like it was a home”, Iriz says.

Standing on the bridge commanding the ship, which Iriz did as a captain for many years, is an experience invoking even more devotion in the heart of a genuine seaman.

“Honestly, I treat the vessel like my second wife. I sail with her and I know how to handle her. She should get the highest recognition from everyone, be properly tended to and maintained, because she is my pride”, Iriz confesses.


Building the team spirit

Solvang has established its philosophy of management throughout the global organization, starting from the very top.

“The owner at the top has entrusted us with a big responsibility, along with the freedom to make our very best decisions when realizing the operations. This integrity fosters a sense of ownership which is felt everywhere in the company, notably in the specific culture onboard our vessels”, says HR Director Kjetil Meling in Solvang.

Captain Iriz Paiton recently advanced to Vice President of Solvang Philippines Inc., where he develops crew competency from an onshore position. He believes that Solvang’s management style is aligned with the upcoming generation of seafarers.

“We deal with a generation inculcated into a digital era, paying attention to a different sort of leadership. How you respect them and listen to them, decides their sense of team spirit”, Iriz says.

For a team to achieve high-quality outcomes, each individual has to demonstrate mutual respect. It creates an environment where everyone is encouraged to give their best effort, trusting that their views and work are valued by their peers.

“For me, team spirit transcends mere collaboration; it involves fostering a familial atmosphere among the crew. Such a connection bolsters our collective resilience and flexibility, making sure we function not merely as individuals performing tasks but as a united group working toward shared objectives”, Iriz concludes.