maritime news

Mariners Face New Threats in 2017 While Dealing with the Old

No matter the size of the ship, a mariner's job is demanding on any of the seven seas.

No matter the size of the ship, a mariner’s job is demanding on any of the seven seas.

No matter the size of the ship, a mariner’s job is demanding on any of the seven seas.

It’s a brand new year for the world, but it looks like the Same Old S*** for mariners. Threats of piracy, accidents, death in foreign ports, and now, with Donald Trump as president, mariners forbidden to take leave in U.S. ports.

The next time you settle into that easy chair, or slip on your favorite running shoes, I want you to think about this. According to a recent article at Maritime Insight.com, a mariner is twenty times more likely to have an accident than someone who works ashore.

These aren’t accidents that involve bumping your head on a door or losing your balance when the ship rocks in rough seas. We’re talking about serious bodily injury or death. Let me put it this way. If you invited your Cousin Joe, who’s a merchant marine, and nineteen other cousins to a party, Joe’s chances of being injured or killed on the job are equal to the chances of all your other cousins combined.

Dr. Grahaeme Henderson president of the United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, recently told members, “When I meet families of seafarers, they tell me the most important thing is getting their loved ones home safely.”

Mariners, no matter what country they’re from, are somebody’s sons and fathers, brothers and uncles and cousins. Shipping companies can’t afford not to continually seek newer and better ways to improve on their safety record.

When the ship’s electrician, who was working on an elevator on the Carnival Ecstasy, was crushed to death, his blood flowed down the elevator doors. When events like this happen, we can’t just turn squeamishly away, upset that our cruise was ruined. If companies that employ these victims are genuinely sincere about the loss, they must do better than hire a new employee at the next port.

Carnival expressed “heartfelt sympathy” over the death of 66-year old Jose Sandoval Opazo. But a little soul searching and the development of stricter safety regulations onboard their ships would be far, far better than empty words. If Carnival’s concern ends with a press release, you can bet sooner or later we’ll be reading about more deaths on cruise ships.

As for the public’s part, I encourage you to visit cruisejunkie.com for a comprehensive list of accidents at sea. If that’s not enough to open your eyes, go to www.cruisecritic.com/news. Skip the link to “Finding a Cruise” and “Deals” and stay focused on “News.”

Here you can read about the crew member who died in a gas explosion this past February 09 aboard the Emerald Princess while the ship was in Port Chalmers, New Zealand. The cruise line released a statement saying, “We are deeply saddened that a member of Emerald Princess crew was fatally injured in the incident.” Continue reading →

Sometimes the Good Guys Win

A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.     -Author Unknown

A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.
-Author Unknown

Pirates made the news again this week, though I’m afraid it wasn’t good news for them. Twelve pirates were convicted in a Mauritian court for an attack on the MSC Jasmine off the coast of Somalia on January 05, 2013. It may seem like an eternity ago that the wheels of justice began turning, but they did turn. Originally, a court returned a not guilty verdict, but the prosecutors challenged the results, and a second trial yielded the new verdict.

For those of you who are geographically challenged, Mauritius is an island off the coast of southern Africa. If you didn’t know that, don’t feel bad. I had to look it up myself. Mauritius has a special treaty with the European Union that allows pirates taken off Somalia to be tried there.

And if you think Mauritius is just a small jerkwater, backwoods, impoverished island that will do anything for a buck, you’re mistaken big time. Mauritius has a thriving economy with tourism at its heart. With a solid infrastructure, this island is all about stability, democracy, and a rising middle class.

When the twelve pirates attacked the Jasmine with rocket-propelled grenades, a security team hired to protect the Jasmine repelled the attack. They promptly notified authorities, and plenty of help arrived. The USS Halyburton, the FS Surcouf, and a German patrol aircraft all played a part in apprehending the pirates.

Earlier this year Somalian pirates were found guilty of hijacking the yacht Tribal Kat and murdering its captain. They received six to fifteen years. They pretty much got away with murder.  Had it been the pirate Joseph Bannister, they would have been hanging from a yardarm before the ship got into port. Continue reading →