They that go down to the Sea in Ships


A swift glance at this ‘live streaming’ map of shipping on a world scale must impress and educate those few who do not understand the sheer size and impact of sea-borne trade upon the way we live, pre- or post virus.

It is still a dangerous profession, even with advanced navigation and modern propulsion systems. The decision to phase out all single skinned VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers) is case in point.  The decision, taken mainly on insurance grounds as a double-skinned tanker has a fair chance of avoiding pollution as the oil cargo is held within separate tanks barriered off from the outside ocean: whereas a single-skinned tanker would commence leaking cargo oil immediately upon impact. As there was a shortage of huge ore-carrier ships worldwide, somer investors decided to convert these ships, designed specifically to carry oil cargoes, to be able to carry iron ore cargoes.

This change included cutting large cargo access apertures into the once solid upper deck of the ship, placing covering for those huge holes, and supposedly introducing strengthening procedures required by the Regulator. The Stellar Daisy was one such conversion. After a check by insurance staff, extensive repairs were conducted to repair cracks and replace corroded steel all around the ships structure. Further cracks were discovered along the sides of the ship, but after repairs, the ship was deemed sea-worthy, and allowed to continue cargo loading;

The Stellar Daisy broke apart and sank in less than two minutes. Twenty two men died.

The Seacore Power capsized and sank in near-hurricane conditions. The storm was well forecast. The Owners must be asked why the ship was still at sea!

But still, despite many warnings, the sailors who crew these vast ships are ignored when it comes to crew replacements after the Virus onset, with seafarers held on board by greedy ship owners for literally months over their contact time, and the Governments and Maritime Organisations paying lip service only in support of the men at sea; whilst seemingly wringing their collective hands, like a row of Scrooges interested in only one thing: Profit!