We did nothing for seafarers

(Trigger warning – this article contains descriptions of assault)

By now the 25 June is pretty much ingrained in my mind as the International Day of the Seafarers having literally jumped on board from its inception when we attempted to create a Flash Mob in different areas around the country. We also launched the South African Seafarers’ Awards with the assistance of the South African Maritime Safety Authority.

So, believe me when I say, the date was high on my agenda this year as per usual. We were planning a maritime breakfast to raise funds. We even had (in my humble opinion) a moving tribute planned to start the event followed by a fun live quiz.

But as the date crept closer and closer on my calendar I realised this was more about our brand and becoming embroiled in the tide to outdo what everyone else had planned. And I realised that many of these tokens do not really do anything for the actual seafarers beyond highlighting the fact that there is a problem here that a symbolic gesture does not have the power to fix.

A conference highlighting the problem does just that; and then repackages itself for the following year to do the same. Holding up placards with messages of support and even our own wonderful conceptual breakfast plans do nothing for seafarers.

For me the most significant responses on the day were the seafarers telling their stories. The sad reality, however, is that these are largely circulated within the maritime domain and do not actually serve to navigate the message into the broader public who know little about the struggles these men and women face.

So we did nothing for seafarers on the 25 June this year. Quite honestly, I was disillusioned by the continuation of shocking incidents that they are facing. Recently, however, the mainstream press has covered the case being made against Maersk.

In fact, the actions of the two women, who are currently taking on the shipping giant, Maersk, for initially turning a blind eye to severe sexual harassment and assault while cadets on board their ships, are probably doing more for seafarers than any of the talkshops held internationally could have achieved.

One of the women, now identified as Hope Hicks, has publicly described how she was raped by her superior officer while serving as an engine cadet. The second woman was so traumatised on board that she slept with a knife in case she needed to protect herself during the night.

Interestingly in 2010 the shipping company was sued for a similar reason by a male crew member who was allegedly gang raped by South Korean police in 2008. According to newspaper reports from that time, when he reported it to the Captain, he was told to go to his cabin. Upon waking up later, he once again approached the Captain who said his story was too incredible to be believed. There was some controversy over the version of events at the time, but ultimately, he was awarded a financial compensation by a jury.

By now many have read or seen the countless media reports exposing a culture of assault and silence within the merchant marine. And despite Maersk’s decision to suspend and fire five crewmembers following an internal investigation – it seems that more needs to be done. Fortunately, others believe so too.

An interesting article published by Federal News Network in December last year notes that the US Merchant Marine Academy has suspended the programme that puts students at sea for a year following the reports of sexual assaults of students. In addition, the Academy has been tasked to establish a plan for dealing with this significant problem.

An even more heartening development has been the establishment of Maritime Legal Aid and Advocacy by Ryan Melogy – himself an ex-seafarer and now a qualified lawyer who also experienced sexual assault on one of Maersk’s vessels during his career.

Maritime Legal Aid & Advocacy is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organisation fighting for the human rights of seafarers and fighting to change the maritime industry.

In 2019 another organisation, Safer Waves, was launched to provide support to seafarers who were experiencing sexual assault, harassment and discrimination on board. In an attempt to get a better understanding of the prevalence of the problem they undertook a survey in 2020 and the results speak for themselves – as do the stories that are related on their site. They provide useful advice and offer a helpline to those experiencing unwanted attention at sea.

Sexual assault is, of course, not the only type of abuse that seafarers face at sea. A visit to the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance (ISWAN) website highlights many more challenges. From social isolation, abandonment, arrest and more – it is abundantly clear that the efforts within the maritime sector need to go beyond posting on social media platforms to show that they support the International Day of the Seafarer.

Because, unless they are actively helping change the onboard culture for the betterment of all seafarers, they are really doing nothing for seafarers.  

Locally on the African continent there are disparate groups of individuals and associations hoping to make a difference – but each seems to have its own agenda as well as “brand” that it wants to promote. It’s time to truly collaborate. We can do more together. What is the African proverb? “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”


20 in 2022: Quay words and phrases

Last week’s CMTP Midterm Review threw out some quay words and phrases that I thought I would highlight in this blog to create a general picture of the content of the conference that saw active engagement from a number of stakeholders.

  1. 4iR: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and all that comes with it including automation and innovation has been on the agenda for a few years now. The government has a 4iR policy and there are pockets of innovation taking places within universities and amongst incubators. The issue needs to be addressed from a skills and employment perspective within the maritime space.
  2. Action: The call for action on several outstanding and unresolved issues was loud and clear. It is clear that the industry is cynical about the lack of action that has taken place particularly with regard to the ports’ infrastructure and efficiencies as well as the promulgation of legislation.  
  3. Cabotage: Cabotage or a coastal shipping regime is not a new topic and has been debated for many years. The consensus seems to be, however, that a liberal policy should be implemented that is not too restrictive.
  4. Cadetships: While some people are still calling for the active recruitment of new seafarers based on the much-publicised expected shortage of officers within the world fleet, it should be noted that cadet berths continue to be a problem. Some solutions were put on the table including the purchase of a new vessel for training as well as the need to form better relationships with shipping lines. Some good news from SAMSA, however, highlighted that talks in this regard are taking place with the view of placing more cadets at sea.
  5. Collaboration: Let’s be clear on this one. Talking about collaboration and breaking down the silos does not equate to actually collaborating. While this topic has crept into all recent maritime conversations – there is not much clarity on how this can be achieved or what collaboration will look like in the maritime industry.
  6. Decarbonisation: This global ambition is both an opportunity and a challenge for South Africa and, indeed, Africa as a whole. We need to stay abreast of technologies, interventions and research in this regard and we need to position our own industry to take advantage of changes and developments.  
  7. Defining the value chain: This was an interesting issue that cropped up during the three-day event last week. Quite simply – without being able to accurately define the maritime value chain, we are not able to leverage the opportunities. The National Department of Transport (NDoT) announced the theme for the year as Benefitting from the Maritime Transport Value Chain on the first evening of the conference.
  8. Funding and Finance: As a capital-intensive industry that is not well understood by many financing houses and banks, stakeholders believe that more needs to be done to make potential funders aware of the realities of the industry. The establishment of a Maritime Development Fund was also once again raised, but no real action plan was revealed.
  9. Green Hydrogen: This topic deserves more than a single bullet point – but suffice to say that this is fast becoming a buzz word in the maritime sector. It will be interesting to watch how countries and companies position themselves in this regard as the return on investment looks to be long term with substantial capital outlay.
  10. International Maritime Centre: The ultimate aim of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy is to see South Africa emerge as an International Maritime Centre on the African continent. This implies a healthy and growing subset of maritime sectors that are transformed, efficient, cost-effective and customer-centric. Government is seen to be an enabler in this regard, while the private sector will need to engage as well as collaborate (yes that word again) to ensure this vision is achieved. “South African businesses must be at centre of maritime development to provide services to international industries,” said Dumisani Ntuli of the NDoT in his opening remarks.
  11. Legislation and Policies: The need to fast track several key pieces of legislation was highlighted, but many of these still seem to be some way off being promulgated into law. Stakeholders expressed frustration about recent developments relating to the policy to allow additional STS transfers in Algoa Bay as well as the numerous Acts that are sitting in the legislative pipeline. In addition, there was a call to sign certain important conventions including the Clydebank Declaration.
  12. Maritime Awareness: Maritime awareness has been on the agenda for a number of years and much has actually been achieved in this regard. The concern, however, is the creation of false hope amongst the youth who have been exposed to a seafaring career without much thought as to how we will manage their cadetships and sea time. Nevertheless, stakeholders maintain that maritime awareness needs to start at school level and developments in qualifying maritime teachers was shared.
  13. National Shipping Carrier: Speaking at the opening of the event last week, the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula said that the establishment of a National Shipping Carrier was a priority. The aim is to be able to control ships and tonnage for the benefit of South African citizens and companies.
  14. Operation Phakisa: Yes, this is still on the agenda. Despite provoking some cynicism, Operation Phakisa still has a role to play in the development of the maritime agenda. For many, the need to align the newly created Ocean Economy Master Plan (which derives its course from Phakisa) with the CMTP document as well as the numerous government departments that are associated with it is paramount.
  15. Port City: The concept of integrating the port and city was mentioned as a way to move ports towards becoming more responsive to the needs of companies and stakeholders in its precinct as well as to create awareness of the greater logistics chain within adjacent cities.
  16. Port Efficiency: It is a pity that this topic remains a massive issue within the maritime industry in South Africa. Ports and the Ports Authority are seen as the gateway to the maritime sectors – and constituents of these sectors have long anguished over the lack of action taken within the ports to ensure productivity, efficiency, opportunities, and ease of doing business.
  17. Ships Register: Another topic that has been buzzing around conferences for close to two decades is that of bolstering the South African Ships Registry. There are some very practical steps that need to be taken in this regard – not least of which is the need to identify what shipowners are looking for in a Flag State. Shipowners have the luxury of choice in this regard and for a register to deliver the desired gains, we will need to create a framework that makes business sense for shipowners.
  18. Transformation: While there has been transformation in various sub sectors of the maritime industry, many believe that this is still not enough and that the BBBEE sector codes need to be implemented to achieve adequate transformation.
  19. Women and Youth: Part of the transformation agenda includes the inclusion of women and youth within the sector and actively making space for them within the existing structures.
  20. World Maritime Day: We have a massive opportunity to showcase our maritime sectors in October this year as we host the International Maritime Organisation’s World Maritime Day parallel event. We need to leverage this opportunity.

These quay words and phrases can only provide a short snapshot into what was discussed last week and we will be publishing a full report back on the event before the end of the month.  


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.




State of the Maritime Industry Address

I am not going to comment on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) made last week by President Jacob Zuma except to say I did hear him mention the maritime industry as he acknowledged the importance of the fishing industry; the need to develop our ports and the focus on oil and gas for the development of Cape Town and Saldanha Bay. I am, however, going to comment on a speech made the night before SONA by Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Anyone who has ever listened to the CEO speak will know that he is constantly pushing the South African maritime agenda – and it seems that, while there is still much to be done, a lot of groundwork has been covered.

State of Maritime Industry

Here are a few highlights of his speech:

TREASURY TICKS OFF TAXATION: Mokhele highlighted the decision by South African Treasury last year to remove all forms of taxation on shipping. “I never thought in my living days that I would see South Africa Treasury moving on shipping tax when we have waited and worked so hard on the tonnage tax,” he said adding that although the industry was willing to accept a nominal tax, this gesture to help develop the industry was welcomed. Treasury has shaved tax contributions of seafarers; removed taxation on the sale of assets; and paved the way for shipping companies to trade in any international currency.

“I never thought in my living days that I would see South Africa Treasury moving on shipping tax when we have waited and worked so hard on the tonnage tax.”

THE BLUE ECONOMIC STRATEGY: In a similarly positive light, Mokhele reported that Cabinet had approved The Blue Economic Strategy for the country. “It talks to helping improve the lives of our people by taking and leveraging the assets of the industry; the expertise that is there. It is a strategy about development; it is a strategy about progress – and about giving the economy an upliftment,” he said. 

THE AFRICAN MARITIME DECADE: Coupled to the approval of the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050 made by the African Union Commission at the end of January was the announcement that 2015 to 2025 would be dedicated to the maritime industry.

“It means that the maritime sector has arrived where it needed to be. It has become an asset of of our people, politically endorsed, industry recognised opportunities and communities are involved,” said Mokhele.

NATIONAL MARITIME INSTITUTE: Having completed a feasibility study to assess the impact of establishing a National Maritime Institute, SAMSA has successfully concluded a deal with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. On November 12 last year, the University passed a resolution to accept the custodianship of the National Maritime Institute. According to Mokhele, the Institute will be operational from April 1 this year and will coordinate efforts in maritime education. “We are not displacing the existing infrastructure, but providing cohesion in the development of programmes that are geared to the development of technology and innovation,” he said. 

MARINE TOURISM STRATEGY: Understanding that 80 percent of the United States of America’s tourism revenue originates from marine tourism, Mokhele’s announcement that SAMSA would unveil a Maritime Tourism Strategy during the course of the year, makes sense as a strategy to open the maritime sector to new entrants.

“Water programmes sell. They sell real estate, they sell activities, they sell everything – and therefore our marine strategy is going to be inclusive of the tourism strategy that we are going to unveil before the end of this year.”

MARINE MANUFACTURING STRATEGY: Another strategy scheduled to be unveiled during the course of the year is one that speaks to the marine manufacturing sector. Mokhele spoke about the need to develop the capabilities of the ship repair and ultimately the shipbuilding sectors.  Alluding to the potential of gearing up for the offshore oil and gas industry, Mokhele said “South Africa has to gear themselves up to become the hub service centre for the gas industry that is emerging on the east, but also to play a part on the existing oil and gas industry that is already established on the west of the continent.”

CELEBRATING SOUTH AFRICA’S 20 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY: Perhaps the most ambitious plans that Mokhele revealed were those relating to a planned cruise around the African continent. He aims to see an all-female crew navigate the SA Agulhas to visit nations in Africa that supported the liberation of South Africa. The cruise aims to also set up a fund for the development of women in Africa’s maritime sectors. SAMSA will approach industry to help sponsor this initiative.

SAMIC IS BACK ON THE CALENDAR: If you remember the landmark conference initiated by SAMSA in 2012, you may be pleased to hear that it is scheduled to return to the calendar in October this year. It will be a good opportunity to report back on resolutions taken at the last edition and decide whether the industry, government and other stakeholders have stepped up to the plate to see real development of the industry.

While these topics remain the highlights of Tsietsi Mokhele’s speech, he also spoke of the success of the cadetship programme; the ambitions to see ships return to the ships registry as well as the interest from various shipping companies to source South African seafarers to crew their fleets.

Yes, he told a good story, but we still all need to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. It makes no sense to endlessly debate the merits of a report back if we are not prepared to go back to our desks – irrespective of our views – and make things happen.

WARNING: Women at Work!

As I prepare to put my feet up for Women’s Day tomorrow and scroll through the many newsfeeds I follow on social networks, I am suddenly reminded that the “thing to do” in media is to couple content planning to calendar events such as this. So let’s take a moment to reflect on the feminine demographic in the maritime industry.

When I started reporting on the industry way back in the mid 1990’s there were not many ladies at sea and few holding positions of any real maritime significance ashore. I remember visiting a Captain on his ship and being subjected to a bout of misplaced chivalry as he opened the doors while I had to squeeze passed his sizeable belly in the narrow passages to enter first. I remember interviewing a Managing Director of a reputable maritime company and being told at the end of an hour: “I’m sorry I did not get your name – I was too busy looking at your breasts”. And I remember meeting with a potential freelance writer for the magazine, who was himself an old salt, and him casually remarking “I’ve never worked with anyone like you before” as he gave me  a very obvious once over.

Thankfully things have changed considerably since then.

The maritime industry, however,  was not unique in its chauvinistic behaviour and now, as it did then, simply continues to be a microcosm of life ashore. Certainly there has been a shift towards attracting women into seafaring positions – similar to most professions “traditionally” associated with male dominance, but I struggle to see a real demographic gender shift at board level of the majority of maritime companies.

We’re happy to send our girls to sea; we’ll even claim bragging rights when a handful of them move up the seafaring ranks – but we are yet to see real progress within top management structures.

Now, I am the first to say that women should not be appointed to simply tick a box on some score card somewhere, but surely there are ladies of significance ready to step into these positions within our industry?

Oh – and the next time you need to have a lady break a bottle of bubbly over the hull of your newbuild, don’t simply invite the wife of some important man – look for that woman of significance in the industry and give her the honour. Because there are some truly innovative, smart, courageous, talented and forward thinking women at work in this industry.

Happy Women’s Day to all in the maritime industry – whether ashore or at sea!



All hands on deck!

Scrubbing the decks of the Lord Nelson.

Scrubbing the decks of the Lord Nelson.

I recently had the opportunity to lend a hand. I joined a group of volunteers on board the Lord Nelson in the port of Cape Town where all hands on deck was literally the mantra of the day.

It all started when I received a number of press releases from Norton Rose that highlighted their involvement with the Jubilee Sailing Trust and, specifically, their connection to the tallship, the Lord Nelson.

Intrigued by the uniqueness of the vessel’s mandate to offer sailing opportunities to both able-bodied and disabled sailors alike, I jumped at the chance to experience the true ethos of the vessel first hand and soon found myself signing up for a day of hard labour.

Perhaps not making the best of first impressions, I arrived a little late only to find that my fellow volunteers were already hard at work and looking in control of things. Greeted by four fellow deckhands in red Norton Rose shirts, I soon discovered that the notion of working on a vessel in Cape Town’s harbour was appealing enough for the staff at Norton Rose to vie for the opportunity via an office competition

Tina Costas, Jeremy Brown and Jonathan Levine of Norton Rose were joined by Gavin Maggott from the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) who, by the end of the day, had confirmed that maneuvering around the vessel in a wheelchair was more than feasible.

It’s clear from the moment you step on board that the vessel has been modified to accommodate wheelchairs and those with physical disabilities. Dedicated wheelchair lifts ensure that all crewmembers can access all areas of the boat and wheelchair tie downs are strategically placed to secure those that require it should the sailing get rough.

With provision made for blind, deaf and physically challenged crewmembers, it’s clear that being disabled on the Lord Nelson should not be a disadvantage.

But back to my day of labour.

Pairing up with Jeremy – we were put to work checking the life jackets and immersion suits on the port and starboard aft stations. With all lights and gear checked and accounted for, we were being ushered on to our next tasks by first mate, John West.

Down below I found Jonathan towing a vacuum cleaner and finishing off the main staircase with a dustpan and brush. I also encountered the doc, Steve Ogden, who was preparing the bunks to welcome new arrivals for the next sailing leg later that day so I stepped in to help him.

Somehow, however, I found myself sometime later in latex gloves, toilet brush in hand, cleaning the small bathrooms on the starboard side. These too have been modified to accommodate disabled crewmembers.

After a break for lunch enjoyed on the deck in the sun, I teamed up with Tina (who had been hard at work polishing the brass with Jeremy and Gavin) and Jonathan to scrub the decks. Armed with hoses, hard brooms, buckets and some soap powder – the hours soon clocked up as curious passersby stopped on the quayside to watch our progress.

Wet and tired, we proudly surveyed our handiwork before catching up with Gavin and Jeremy. Despite the sheer volume of deck that we had scrubbed and the time it had taken – it seems we somehow got off lightly as the other two had spent the afternoon cleaning fans and other equipment below deck!

It was a group effort and the Lord Nelson was ready to receive her guests for a scheduled cocktail party that night. But it took a diverse group of volunteers willing to flex their muscles, get dirty, surrender their time and put a common goal ahead of their own for a day.

We need to find more time for days like this and we need to make the effort to ensure that our industry provides access to all.

Take a look at our Facebook All Hands on Deck gallery for photos from the day! <click here>

Conference Call rocks maritime sector

There are conferences aplenty in South Africa and Africa that plug into the maritime domain, but this week’s South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC) hosted by SAMSA can truly be heralded as one that should repower the engines of the maritime industry in the country.

I sat there for the entire conference. I did not miss a minute of it. I ensured that every break-away group had a representative from the magazine in it – and we will publish a thorough and comprehensive report back of SAMIC in the next issue.

For those of you who did not attend and had to rely on newspaper reports of the highlights and headlines relating to the conference, please take comfort in the fact that the news that made it to daily newspapers relating to lack of legislation to bolster a ship registry; loss of bunker only opportunities or our lack of pollution fighting capabilities, should not be seen to represent the the entire focus of the conference. These are all headlines that spotlighted the industry during the SAMIC week and, while I am certainly not dismissing the importance of these facts, we as an industry know we are committed to addressing them, but we should also be able to walk away from the conference knowing that we did more than just air our dirty laundry.

And certainly, while we wont ignore the very real work that needs to be done to address those rather negative headlines; lets reflect on the positives that the conference highlighted:

  • Three Cabinet Ministers stood on the jetty in the V&A Waterfront on a dark cold winter’s morning to watch the SA Agulhas training ship depart with 32 cadets on board. That’s three Ministers who now have  more of a personal glimpse about what the industry can offer to young South Africans.
  • The new Minister of Transport, Ben Dikobe Martins, seemed well briefed and sounded committed to prioritising maritime matters in the Department of Transport.
  • Ruth Bhengu, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport invited the industry to “knock on my door” to unblock policy and legislation before parliament.
  • Bridgette Gasa, National Planning Commissioner, admitted that the maritime sector had been “forgotten” in the National Development Plan and agreed to seek to correct the oversight.
  • A complete pipeline of skills development from primary to tertiary level for the maritime industry is being discussed at governmental level.
  • The Petroleum Agency reported that our offshore acreage is well marketed and fully subscribed with either exploration licenses or applications for exploration.  Increased activity in this sector is predicted in the next three to five years.
  • SAMSA launched an Industry Training Fund and raised significant funds directly at the Chairman’s Dinner on the second day of the conference.
  • CEO of SAMSA, Tsietsi Mokhele was summoned to meet with the President on Thursday and returned to alert the industry to the fact that he had proclaimed himself the governor of the Tenth Province to the presidency in an effort to convey the immense importance that the sector holds for the development of South Africa.
  • Entrepreneurs waiting to gain a foothold into the industry, stalwarts of the industry, government agents, neigbouring country officials, NGO’s and industry associations rubbed shoulders, debated, discussed and committed to a robust maritime sector.
  • The atrophy of conference delegates on the Friday afternoon was not significant!

Was SAMIC an all-encompassing solution to every problem facing the industry? Certainly not, but it was an excellent start that challenged the status-quo of conferences as a whole and the industry. We were not subjected to paper after paper, but rather given the opportunity to huddle down and shout out our opinions.

Was SAMIC totally representative of the industry? Well – no, there were a couple of industry players that perhaps should have been involved. Most notably was the absence of any representation from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to engage with the fishing subsector, but there were others as well.

Was SAMIC completely unique in its topic selection? Hell – no, there were issues that have been debated at nausea for more than a decade in the industry, but there seemed to be an underlying will on a higher level than just industry frustration to move forward.

There is still a lot of work to be done. There is a lot of sensitisation to and education about the industry that still needs to happen at government level, but our new governor of the 10th province is the kind of man that has the ability to rally the troops; he has the passion to unite disparate sectors and he certainly seems to have managed to reach the ear of the president.

And for those of us that added our rock to the pile – let us live up to the commitment this symbolised and work to make our 10th province prosperous, influential and peaceful.

MARITIME ROCKS: Delegates at SAMIC were invited to take a rock, write their commitment on it and add it to the pile at the end of Day 2 at the conference.

Come out for seafarers!

This time last year we partnered with members of the maritime industry locally and attempted to bring attention to the vital work undertaken by the men and women who go to sea each day. We organised Flash Mobs in Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria and Mossel Bay to publicly acknowledge the role of seafarers.

I’ll be honest and say that getting some of the industry to buy into the concept of a Flash Mob was hard and the traditionally conservative industry tended to shy away from the idea of standing up in a public place and thanking seafarers. Yet there were those who stood up and came out.

Coming out in support of seafarers like that seemed totally alien to the industry – an industry totally reliant on their seagoing crew and I wondered: if the actual maritime industry was reluctant to stand up and thank seafarers; how on earth was the man in the street going to be able to conceptualise the need to thank them?

At the time we had grandiose ideas of what we would be doing this year to mark this day. From street parades to organising a harbour run; we were keen to expose landlubbers to the risks, challenges, duties and responsibilities of the seafarers!

But we decided to get in line with the rest of the world and embrace the social media campaign that marked last year and that again marks this year’s dedication to and celebration of seafarers.

And so this morning I got to work ready to start tweeting and blogging about the things in my life that I cannot do without that happened to be here after a journey by sea. And so as I sit at my desk and consider the contents of my office, my house and indeed my life I can’t help think that I have let down those seafarers that I was prepared to come out for last year.

I regret not organising that street parade. I regret not setting up the harbour run. And I believe we should be doing more than tweeting and blogging our thanks.

Next year – let’s take it to the streets and drive the message to the very doors of the consumers who simply cannot live without seafarers!

Recognising a different type of Maritime Master

In what can only be described as “long overdue” one of our own maritime champions was recognised for his contribution to maritime education at the Seatrade Awards dinner in London last night. While technically it was the Lawhill Maritime Centre that received the Investment in People award – Brian Ingpen is synonymous with the success of the centre and has instilled a passion for the maritime industry, respect, discipline and a set of uncompromising values in South African youth over the many years that Simons Town High School has offered Maritime Studies as a Matric subject.

My involvement with the industry goes back almost two decades and in that time Brian Ingpen has always been a prominent supporter of all maritime matters. His quiet, dignified persona is as much a part of our maritime legacy as the many legends that helped shape the South African maritime landscape. His uncompromising ability to see to the reality of all things maritime makes him an ideal commentator, educator and friend of the industry.

But it is the work that he does in Simonstown at the High School and within the Lawhill Maritime Centre that is truly remarkable. His learners (past and present) are noticeable and notable in the industry; and every year when I leave his annual Awards evening I am moved by the respect they have for him as well as the industry that they are hoping to enter.

Honestly there are few in the maritime as well as the education sector that can say they are leading our youth and championing our future maritime leaders to the same degree as Mr Brian Ingpen.

Congratulations Brian; it is an honour to have you on our editorial team and to witness what you are doing at the Lawhill Maritime Centre.


Worthy winner

Kelly Klaasen is currently a Fourth Engineer on Safmarine vessels and last year's winner of the SAMSA Seafarer of the Year Award. (Photo courtesy of Safmarine)

Yesterday we filmed an interview with the winner of last year’s SAMSA Seafarer of the Year Award and it was clear to see why our judging panel chose this petite and passionate youngster.

Kelly Klaasen in no ordinary seafarer. She’s the type of mariner that can inspire more of our young South Africans to sign up for a life at sea. While she understands the challenges; the commitment and the hard work required to move up the ranks at sea – she is also clear about the benefits and opportunities that her career choice has provided.

Getting ready to fly out to meet her next ship, Kelly will be at sea until about January next year. Yes, she will miss Christmas with her family, but she is ticking off places on the world map that she has visited (all expenses paid). She is also working her way up to Second Engineer and knows that one day when she comes ashore there will be plenty of job opportunities for her.

Chatting to her yesterday it was clear that this well-spoken and determined product of the Lawhill Maritime Centre at Simons Town High School is ready to do what it takes to make a success of her life and to promote the opportunities that the maritime industry holds.

Having set aside the monetary prize (R20 000) that goes with the award for future studies there is no doubt that, when the current top brass of the maritime industry are watching from the sidelines, she will be holding her own amongst a new generation of maritime executives.

The SAMSA Seafarer of the Year Award aims to identify and recognise excellence at sea. This year’s function will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 22 October and nominations close on 01 October.

If your business employs seafarers of any kind who have excelled over the last year, what are you waiting for? Take 20 minutes out of your day today and make sure that they get the recognition that they deserve. You can download the nomination form from our website (www.maritimesa.co.za) or simply fill in the criteria online.