What a difference a tragedy makes. At the beginning of this month it was hard to find any media, or apparently any European government, remotely interested in the plight of refugees and asylum seekers trying to cross the Mediterranean in all manner of unsuitable craft. A fortnight later and at least one thousand deaths, and people are scrambling all over the story.
Not that the appalling news has generated anything much in the way of practical assistance, with the bulk of the rescues still being undertaken by the hard-pressed Italian authorities and merchant ships on transit. It has been suggested that the people smugglers, who of course are being identified as the villains in this grim tale, are now running out of suitable boats and economising on fuel. They… Continue reading
Modern bridge watchkeepers, surrounded with their exciting electronic aids, are constantly being reminded to raise their eyes from their instruments and look out of their windows at the world outside. There is an accident which perhaps deserves to become a “classic” piece of mis-navigation (if that is not a term, maybe it ought to be) reported by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch in its latest Safety Digest.
In this case a well equipped tanker was running along nicely with the OOW sitting happily in his chair monitoring the vessel’s progress on the ECDIS screen on a fine, clear night, with good visibility. Sadly, as it was reported, the ship’s speed over the ground mysteriously reduced to zero, with an engineering alarm sounding. This, the OOW deduced… Continue reading
The world’s press is a fickle thing, focussing intently on a topic for a brief moment in time and then, unless it suits its editors to maintain its gaze, moving on. It maybe doesn’t matter when a story naturally “dies”, as nobody wants to bore the readers with yesterday’s news, but when it is a serious regional crisis that won’t go away, it would be good for the media to reflect this rather than pretend it no longer exists.
The general frightfulness of the Mediterranean migrations made the headlines in February and March when the terrible figures for 2014 were totted up and the IMO Secretary-General hosted a multi agency meeting in London which spelt out the realities of the situation. That meeting forecast an appalling continuation… Continue reading
What are a few of the defining characteristics of seafarers? Let us begin with mobility, because it goes without saying that as ships are mobile, so are the people who drive them. But unlike the ship’s engine, or its deck cranes, the seafarers are not permanently affixed to the hull of the ship they are serving in. They need to go ashore occasionally, and certainly need to be able to easily move through the countries their ships are docked in, as they leave and join these vessels.
Then there are those who need to travel through different countries to sort out problems on their companies’ ships. There is a serious technical problem, one which requires the company technical superintendent to jet across the world and sort it… Continue reading