WALLEM Shipmanagement is expanding its London and Miami offices to boost services to its tanker-owner clients. A senior superintendent has been despatched to the Miami office and three more will follow over the next few months to raise the technical staff strength to five. Three superintendents will be sent to London, raising the technical staff complement to four. The London office, which has not previously had a big technical presence, will now look after the company's tankers operating in European ports. Managing director Aswin Atre said more experienced staff were being sent to the two offices to provide closer supervision of the ships trading in the US and European waters. Mr Atre said ships' officers were coming under pressure because of the growing paper work and more frequent audits connected with quality assurance schemes. ''To ease the pressure, we decided to maintain close communications with the ships by sending more staff to the two centres,'' Mr Atre said. He said staff numbers in the Miami and London offices will be increased as needed. ''We have to protect our reputation as a quality manager.'' He said the moves did not mean the Hong Kong operations were being scaled back. ''Hong Kong is a growth area for us,'' he said. With a fleet of 94 ships, 50 of them tankers, Wallem is counted among the largest ship management companies in Hong Kong. Another 21 ships are partly managed by the company, which has 180 staff working on shore and 3,500 seamen on its roster. Mr Atre said that despite the weakness in the shipping market, Wallem is not cutting back on in-house training programmes. The company has one deck cadet on each of its ships. ''We don't want to be caught napping. Otherwise, in two years' time, when the market will show strength, we will have to start looking for seamen,'' Mr Atre said. Wallem recently held a safety seminar in Bombay, which was attended by 120 officers. Mini-seminar are also held on specialist subjects to retrain officers and crew. The company recently took a gamble, buying two Handysize bulk carriers for more than US$22 million. The 26,590 deadweight tonne (dwt) Maersk Cypress was acquired from the Maersk group of London and the 21,340 dwt Ocean Breeze from Japanese owners. The Maersk Cypress was re-named Nego Kim, placed under the Hong Kong flag and chartered to Mitsui of Japan. The Ocean Breeze was renamed Nego Breeze and placed on charter to Shinwa, also of Japan. ''We always wanted to join the ranks of ship owners, but without coming into conflict with our existing clients,'' said Mr Atre. ''After a careful study we found a commercial operation was feasible.'' Wallem is the majority shareholder of the ship-owning company, which also has individual investors.