Article

Empty Ships, Empty Seas


by Ivana-Maria Carrioni-Burnett - published on 21 September 2020 172

Article first published by Human Rights at Sea (https://www.humanrightsatsea.org). All statements and opinions are from the author.

The current plight many seafarers are facing, unable to crew change or return home, is being described by many voices within the maritime community as the next humanitarian crisis.”

At present, the solution being adopted by a significant number of flag states, companies and crewing agencies across the globe is to extend the contracts of those currently at sea. The continual extension of seafarer’s contracts, on a large scale, is not a sustainable solution.  It does not take into account the increasing levels of exhaustion and deteriorating mental health of those onboard. Nor does it consider those seafarers stuck ashore, unable to financially support themselves and their families, who will in time look for work elsewhere.

There have been some suggestions that seafarers should go on strike or shipping should be suspended. What would such a world look like from a UK perspective?

Inevitably, there will be a run on the fuel stations. Just as toilet rolls flew off the shelves earlier in the year, any hint that demand could outstretch supply will cause queues and an increase in fuel prices. If it happens in reality, working from home will again become the norm as commuting in your own vehicle comes at too great a cost. The government will prioritise fuel to the emergency services, the military and the agricultural sector, not the general public.

Which may come as a good thing as there will be no more car imports. You may have been saving up for the latest BMW or Audi or Volkswagen, your preference may be for a Peugeot, a Renault or a Mazda. Instead you will have to buy a car made in Britain: a Vauxhall Astra, a Nissan Qashqai or a Honda Civic. That is if all the parts are available in the UK and the machinery, computer parts or electronics are not also among the imports no longer arriving in the country.

 The common weekly shop will become a challenge, especially in the supermarkets which usually boast the greatest savings, selling produce from European countries. The shops which sell the most British produce will fare a little better, until supply no longer meets demand. At the height of the COVID 19 pandemic, fishermen who once sold their catch to restaurants or suppliers in Europe had to diversify rapidly in order to sell directly to the public. This will become commonplace, not just for fishermen but for farmers too. However, it will only work locally and they will not be able to supply the UK in its entirety. Allotments will see a surge in popularity and the COVID inspired gardeners will be forced to make their efforts a success. Dig for Britain posters will be back on the streets, a century after they were first used. City dwellers will have to queue in the fruit and vegetable aisles for fresh produce while the millennials learn to use a tin opener on canned vegetables.

GPs and doctors may even start prescribing vitamins. However, prescriptions will be another challenge as the list of medicines usually imported rapidly shrinks along with medical equipment. This will increase the strain on an already overburdened healthcare system. It will become common for pharmacies to refer patients back to their doctor when they run out of supply, recommending alternatives. Hospitals will have to share vital pieces of equipment and waiting-lists will continue to grow. There could be life-threatening consequences.

The government may start chartering flights to ensure vital imports and exports can continue.

The real issue will be in the winter. A significant percentage of gas arrives in the UK via LNG tankers, which then gets stored until required. Demand usually goes up during the colder months as we turn up our thermostats to heat our homes. This demand is also shared with the gas-fired power stations providing our electricity. A demand which will not be met if the gas ships are not operating.

Then there are the jobs which will be lost; not just the jobs in the ports and dockyards around the country… the truckdrivers who ferry the goods from the port to the distribution centres, the staff in the distribution centres, the suppliers without goods to sell… the technicians and engineers with no ships to work on or safety equipment to certify; the maritime schools; the marine insurance companies…

If such a scenario arose, the real solution would be British ships with British seafarers. Each country with its own ships and its own crews. Except world trade is just that: global. Economics is governed by trade, across borders. Countries are unable to meet the demands of their citizens solely with the produce of their own lands. Shipbuilding itself is an international feat.

In the UK, we would be rationing well before enough British ships, with enough British sailors, could sustain the current levels of shipping trade to and from Britain.

This is obviously all conjecture.

The truth of the matter is the significance shipping has on our daily lives. Shipping does not exist without seafarers. The health and well-being of seafarers, therefore, is something we should all have an interest in. We must take an interest in them.”

 

Editor's note:
Opinion pieces reflect the personal opinion of individual authors. They do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about a prevailing opinion in the respective editorial department. Opinion pieces might be deliberately formulated in a pronounced or even explicit tone and may contain biased arguments. They might be intended to polarise and stimulate discussion. In this, they deliberately differ from the factual articles you typically find on this platform, written to present facts and opinions in as balanced a manner as possible.
What's your opinion on this?
Login or register to write comments and join the discussion!
Read more...

Opinion UK Marine Pilot’s Perspective of Seafarer’s Challenges.

by Ivana-Maria Carrioni-Burnett - published on 24 August 2020

Port of London Authority marine Pilot, Ms. Ivana Carrioni-Burnett, provides a personal opinion and insight into her recent experiences in UK waters as a newly qualified Pilot in relation to her interactions with seafarers away from their families, including during the COVID-19 crisis.

0

Opinion Crew Voices: Fearful, Frustrated, Fatigued, Forgotten.

by Ivana-Maria Carrioni-Burnett - published on 2 September 2020

These are the feelings which have been voiced by the crews I have been in contact with during pilotage operations these last few weeks.

We have heard this said about many keyworkers in the UK over the last couple of months. First it was the NHS, then care workers and social workers, then bus drivers, train operators, lorry drivers and the supermarkets.

0

Opinion Heroes or Hostages?

by Ivana-Maria Carrioni-Burnett - published on 1 October 2020

“Definitions": ‘Hero’: person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities OR person greatly admired for their exceptional qualities or achievements

‘Hostage’: person seized or held for the fulfilment of a condition OR person who is illegally held prisoner until certain demands are met by others

0

Video Safety by Finnpilot Pilotage Oy

We work in an extremely safety-critical field and, therefore, safety is one of our three key values. We ensure safety for people, the environment and navigation.
Read more at: www.finnpilotvuosiraportti.fi/en

0

Article Marine Pilots are experts in trusting. They simple have to be....

by Bianca Reineke, lutheran Pastor, Germany - published on 13 February 2020

„In God we trust“ - this short sentence can be found on the one dollar note.
Marine Pilots for example are experts in trusting. They simple have to be....

0

Video Docking a Mega Ship -- How Marine Pilot Manoeuvres a Ship in Port?

#dockingship #marinepilot Docking a Mega ship in a busy port requires an experienced marine pilot to ensure safe ship docking operation. This video is an excellent overview of how marine pilot manoeuvres a ship into the port. Manoeuvring is an operation during which a vessel enters or exits coastal waters of a country, crosses several ships on the way, and proceeds towards or departs from a berth or jetty of a port. Shot By an experienced marine pilot Syatibi Azhari, who assisted MSC Ambra,...

0

Opinion What is the added value of pilotage?

by Ed Verbeeck Nautical Consultancy and Training - published on 7 December 2020

The individual pilot operates as part of a pilotage organisation. And, as with so many things, the whole is (much) more than the sum of the parts ...

0

Article The scariest 15 minutes of my life

by Marine-Pilots.com - published on 14 August 2019

An authentic report by Marine Pilot Capt. Agha Umar Habib (Port of Sohar, Oman) about a dramatic incident on July 23, 2019.

0

Video Ships Collision at Malacca Strait- 02-Oct-2020

Dredger OCEANLINE 5001 sailing at full speed struck anchored tanker STROVOLOS with moored alongside supply vessel, at around 1140 LT (UTC +8) Oct 2, on Melaka anchorage, Malaysia, Malacca Strait. The results can be seen on video – tanker suffered portside hull breach above waterline and apparently, some damage on cargo deck.

0

Video Is this a dangerous manoeuvre in a Pilot Boat?

Editors note: A film of a pilot boat has just been published on YouTube with the title "How Dangerous being in a Pilot Boat..." on YouTube. I'm not sure if this really shows a dangerous maneuver, maybe the experts can comment on it here.
But in principle it is problematic to approach the ship in such a small Pilot Boat in the wake from astern and cross the waves there. I remember an accident from Finland in December 2017 where the boat capsized and people died. Is this situation shown here...

1