#BringBackOurSeafarers

Over the last few weeks the Bring Back Our Girls (#bringbackourgirls) campaign has ignited quite a following across the globe. Initially fueled by many people’s outrage that the media had all but ignored the story, this grew to a lambasting of international super-powers for not stepping in to assist Nigeria find the girls. Mostly the argument followed the rather simplistic course that, if this had happened to 200 white schoolgirls the media would have been all over it and that if it was a situation that jeopardised America’s access to oil then they would have sent in the troops.

This is not the place to debate either of these suppositions and certainly the plight of these girls is one of grave concern. Indeed the message to Bring Back Our Girls has gone viral and everyone is standing up in support of it: from the ANC Women’s league to individuals keen to pen, blog and tweet about it to get in on the action. Even corporates are parading employees in front of cameras and posting photos of them holding up signs with the Bring Back Our Girls message on them – some of them in the maritime industry.

So damn it – where is the #BringBackOurSeafarers campaign? Why is every shipping company, support company, port company, importer, exporter and seafarer not jumping up and down for more media coverage about the plight of 54 seafarers who are still being held hostage in deplorable conditions. According to the recently released document on the State of Maritime Piracy by Oceans Beyond Piracy these seafarers have been held in captivity for almost three years.

“Substantial work must still be done in the interest of saving the lives of the 54 high risk hostages who remain in pirate captivity almost three years after their capture. Moreover, the continued ability of pirates to hijack small vessels such as dhows and fishing vessels is a continued risk. It is important to remember that piracy is not only a threat to the free flow of goods, but also to the well-being of individual seafarers, regardless of their vessel size or nationality. It is evident that the number of hostages in captivity, while trending downward, remains of immediate relevance to counter-piracy work and should be prioritized by the maritime and international communities,” the report says. 

While I am personally doubtful of the true effectiveness of viral campaigns such as the one directed at releasing the Nigerian schoolgirls and feel they simply help us feel better about being powerless in the face of such atrocities; what if they are even slightly successful in seeing their safe return as a global eye is turned to the situation?

What if viral campaigns do prompt the appropriate action? Then the maritime industry needs to be more active in pushing the agenda. Yes we have had successful intervention at sea in the form of naval presence, armed guards and vessel hardening – but 54 seafarers are still no closer to going home. So as you spare a thought for the schoolgirls and their families – spare a thought for those seafarers and their families and consider some action. #BringBackOurSeafarers.

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A naval affair!

It’s not often, as an editor of a B2B magazine aimed at the maritime industry, that you receive a press release that really knocks you sideways. Let’s face it I am used to getting announcements relating to appointments, product launches, acquisitions and mergers, but today I literally did a double-take at a press release marketing the services of a discrete website offering to matchmake married individuals.

To their credit they had done some research and pitched the content directly at the maritime industry so it was not one of those spam emails that clog your junk box offering little pills with big benefits.

According to the press release married men need to be alert to the fact that their wives may be all too keen to visit the South African Navy festival this weekend in Simon’s Town because sailors apparently top the list of uniform-wearing hotties. Yes – “32 percent of women surveyed said that a sailor boy (sic) tops their sexual fantasy list”.

The press release goes on to inform that “Simon’s Town is full of sailors ready to conduct unofficial naval business especially after long bouts at sea”.

Interestingly the white uniforms of sailors put them in first place amongst uniformed men that women want to have an adulterous affair with. The top five places include

  • Sailors – 32 percent 
  • Commercial pilots – 26 percent
  • Airforce pilots – 19 percent
  • Firefighters – 15 percent
  • Police – 8 percent

As a magazine that derives its income solely from advertising revenue and necessarily passes on all such press releases to our advertising sales department for follow-up, my instinct in this case, however, was to manually assign it to the junkmail folder.  And so, despite the assurance from the lady who runs the website that female infidelity is on the rise I think there are probably other publications more suited to carry this message.

So don’t go eagerly paging through the next issue of the magazine hoping to find more details. But do remember to pop down to Simon’s Town for the popular annual Navy Festival.