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HomeMaritimeStop dragging seafarer nationality through the sea bed........

Stop dragging seafarer nationality through the sea bed……..

1 in every 2.28 ships.. That is the likelihood of you encountering a seafarer from the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Indonesia, China, and India in global maritime shipping on board ships today..

As per UNCTAD, seafarers from these top 5 countries make up 44% of the global seafarer workforce with 152 other countries making up the balance 56%..

These unseen, unheard, unsung heroes of the sea work around the clock on approximately 105,000+ ships of different types carrying every imaginable type of goods that we need in our day-to-day lives..

The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the computer I am typing on, the phone you are reading this on.. You name it, a seafarer would have been a part of moving it in some shape or form..

These ships are registered (flagged) in various countries with the top 35 countries making up 76% of this tonnage and other countries sharing the balance 24%..

These ships are owned by shipowners from various countries, operated by various ship operators, managed by different ship managers, chartered by different shipping lines or companies, traverse different continents, and are crewed by different crewing agencies from around the world..

You get the complicated nature of this business and the various geopolitical scenarios it presents..

When incidents like the Francis Scott Key Bridge or the Ever Given happen, it is naturally challenging and complicated, and more often than not, it is the innocent seafarer that gets blamed for it..

Captain Kuba Szymanski, FNI summarised it quite well in a recent article which is totally support..

When accidents happen onboard ships it is almost always the seafarer who pays the price – firstly by suffering injury or death in the accident, and secondly by usually being blamed for the incident. 

We believe our great industry does itself, and those who work in it, a great disservice by pointing fingers in this simplistic way. We, and many others in the shipping industry, refer to this as a blame culture, and it must stop!  

Whether it is fake newsmakers targeting women seafarers about the Ever Given incident, or a racist, derogatory, and tasteless AI cartoon depicting the Indian crew on board the Dali, people should appreciate the hard work that these seafarers do putting their lives at risk..

A particular article brought to light to the world by Capt.Adil Ashiq shows the Indian crew on board the Dali represented in a racist and derogatory manner.. Naturally, some people responded with the fact that the pilots who were on board the ship at that time were US Nationals just to move blame from one nationality to another..

The links to seafarer nationalities should stop as it has NOTHING to do with their capabilities.. These are just “crew” and just “pilots” both of whom are doing their best at their jobs irrespective of their nationalities.. There is nothing to show/say that one nationality is better than the other..

As a matter of fact, as per UNCTAD, there are 1,892,725 seafarers from around 157 countries currently active and all these nationalities are more often than not, working very closely together as their lives depend on each other and their collaborative work especially when it comes to disaster situations..

Although I have not been a seafarer, I have worked on board enough ships with varied crews from varied nationalities, sharing meals and espressos with them enough to know what they go through.. Even speaking to someone else other than their colleagues can be a small joy for these seafarers..

During COVID-19, seafarers suffered the most, and in the aftermath of the Ever Given as well, a few issues were highlighted that shone a little bit of light on the plight of seafarers..

As per an article in the Guardian, Mohamed Arrachedi, a coordinator at the  International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), an umbrella union that represents seafarers, boarded the ship to check on the crew’s wellbeing. said that the status of seafarers rarely took precedence despite their essential role in global trade. “Seafarers aren’t a priority when there’s conflict,” he said.

Problems are always big when it comes to shipping, as it’s a global industry that affects our lives more directly than we think. Everything is globalised, but when it comes to seafarers and their rights, there’s a hesitation to globalise these rights too,” added Arrachedi.

Several seafarers have experienced abandonment when shipowners, ship operators, managers, etc fail to pay seafarers their wages, don’t pay for their repatriation back to their countries, or shirk their responsibilities to provide seafarers with support for more than two months.

As per the IMO (International Maritime Organisation), as of the 31st December 2023, there were 849 abandonment incidents listed in the abandonment database since it was established in 2004, concerning 11,968 seafarers.

Although this is only 0.01% of the total seafarers at sea today, it is still almost 12,000 human beings who are affected by these issues!! Think about it for a moment..

The IMO also stated that there were 142 new cases between 1st January 2023 and 31st  December 2023 surpassing the previous year’s record of reported cases.. There were still 273 unresolved cases from the above cases..

While some cases like Mohammed Aisha may receive global coverage several cases do not make global headlines where crew, including ship Captains, are abandoned and left on a ship infested with mice and without food or water.

Ships are operated by machines, computers, and humans.. All of these could falter, break down, and/or make mistakes.. That is why some of these are termed “accidents”..

There are several examples of this including the latest one AFTER the Dali that happened on the 30th of March 2024 when a Cruise ship hit the concrete passageway on the Danube in Austria injuring 17 people..

So let us stop labeling seafarers by their nationalities to apportion blame and focus on how we can provide any level of support to them as much as we all can.. Thank you..


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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiarhttps://www.shippingandfreightresource.com
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..

8 COMMENTS

  1. As a Ship Master with over 25 years at sea, and a further 24 years ashore training seafarers of all nationalities i could’nt agree more with your article. What most people don’t know is that all seafarers have to pass a lot of Competency Exams at various levels. and have to meet various international requirements in virtually all aspects of their job.

    Also don’t forget, they are for the most part contract employess that often get terminated for not meeting the standards required by their shipowner/manager.

    A ship’s running cost, its Insurance and Protection & Indemnity costs and reputation depends on the quality of its seafarers, so you can bet that any Shipowners/manages only hire competent and experienced men & women to man their ships. This industry is very demanding and requires only those that can cope with the very stringent requirements of modern seafaring.

  2. Well said!
    People take for granted the importance of seafarers and undervalue their contribution to international trade.

  3. Agree, arm chair critics who pontify without an iota of knowledge on how these Seamen work 365/24/7 away from their loved ones and in hazardous environs.

  4. Absolutely agree! The blame game often driven by a racist or misogynistic agenda by people who have no idea of the industry is becoming more prevalent

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