I asked ChatGPT about starting a National Shipping Line

With all the hype around ChatGPT internationally and the local debate about whether or not South Africa should start a national shipping line, I thought I would test out GPT’s intelligence and pose the question.

For those of you who may have been hiding in the engine room of a ship somewhere and have not yet heard about ChatGPT, it was launched in November last year and is designed to provide “articulate answers across many domains of knowledge” according to Wikipedia. I have heard from some individuals that they are using it to create speeches and assist in the writing of research papers.

So I decided to pose the question: Should South Africa launch a National Shipping Line?


Whether or not South Africa should launch a National Shipping Line depends on a variety of factors, including economic conditions, the country’s strategic goals, and the potential risks and benefits. Here are some factors to consider:


  • South Africa is an important trading nation and a National Shipping Line could provide the country with greater control over its shipping operations, ensuring the safety and quality of its goods, as well as setting competitive shipping rates.
  • Launching a National Shipping Line could create jobs for South African citizens and stimulate economic growth.
  • A National Shipping Line could help to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign shipping companies and increase national pride.


  • Starting a National Shipping Line can be expensive, with high start-up costs for ships, ports, and other infrastructure.
  • The shipping industry is highly competitive and volatile, with unpredictable demand and fluctuating freight rates, making it a risky investment.
  • Established shipping companies may already have a stronghold on certain routes, making it difficult for a new National Shipping Line to compete.
  • Political interference could lead to inefficiencies and potential corruption.

Overall, whether or not South Africa should launch a National Shipping Line depends on a thorough analysis of the costs, risks, and potential benefits, as well as a clear strategy for success. It may be wise for the government to consult with industry experts and stakeholders to make an informed decision.

While this all took only a few minutes to generate and the information is obviously accessible on the internet somewhere, the ChatGPT service does not indicate any of the sources of its information. For me, as a journalist, this is somewhat problematic for a number of reasons.

Firstly – it is important to know the source of information in order to make an informed decision as to whether you believe it to be accurate and factual.

And, importantly, the information that GPT digs up may be protected by copyright laws and using it may expose you to potential infringement suits.

Nevertheless, GPT may serve as a good port of call for obtaining basic information from which to launch a more indepth investigation into matters that require critical interrogation and where the nuanced data is not required.


It just does not fly with me

News this month that Cape Town’s Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis was aiming to drive the city’s position as the Gateway to Antarctica is great – but the fact that it is being promoted as a “day trip” from the Mother City just does not fly with me.

In just five hours tourists can touch down in Queen Maud Land having joined a flight in Cape Town. Is it just me – or does this kind of defeat the object of travelling to one of the poles? It’s not supposed to be this easy. It’s not supposed to be accessible to the “instant gratification” types who will simply haul out a wallet to notch this up as an experience on their idealised bucket list.

They will not fully appreciate the distantness of this remote setting. They will not experience the icy seas and oceans that prevent many from reaching this destination. They will not be holed up on a small speck in the ocean in a daring effort to reach the ice.

While I appreciate that flights are shared between visitors and the scientific community, reducing environmental impact and supplying logistical support for scientists at research bases operated by several countries, including South Africa – it still seems at loggerheads to what getting to a remote destination should be about.

The mayor’s quote from press releases acknowledges that witnessing the “Antarctic’s pristine wilderness first-hand” is a privilege. Perhaps it’s just me, but I believe that it should be a privilege for those who are willing to set sail and earn their right to claim a footprint via an ocean expedition.

“Visiting the world’s remote seventh continent is the closest anyone will come to experiencing life on another planet,” notes the mayor without acknowledging that this is like taking the space out of space travel.  

Sadly I do see this as the way that tourism and exploration is heading – and am slightly jealous that I was not whisked down to the ice. Yes, I realise the hypocrisy in this, but fortunately I have not been tempted to test my lofty convictions.


Rocking the boat

As part of a four-ball of relative novices, I was asked not to be offended by the decision not to allow us to participate in the upcoming Fairship General Botha Old Boys Bursary Fund fundraising golf day.

Having previously addressed the fact that industry golf days, by their very nature and legacy, tend to remain rather male dominated with the board of the Bursary Fund, this decision came as a bit of a surprise – given that the four ball in question happened to include four women.

We were assured, however, that the marketing efforts for the golf day had reached out to women’s golfing groups and to the ladies belonging to the Rondebosch Golf Club where the event is being hosted.

That they had to find non-maritime women for an industry golf day does not seem to have made a dent in their thinking. According to the correspondence from the Bursary Fund and the manager of the Golf Club – there was not much interest shown despite their efforts to create a more inclusive field via these channels. That the women which were targeted in these marketing endeavours do not want to sign up for a stereotypically male dominated industry golf day also seems to be beyond their understanding of some of these nuances.

As a group of lady novices keen to have some fun at a golf day aimed at raising money for the future maritime generations – a golf day with sponsored holes aimed at making the game less serious, we have been advised to rather not participate lest it destroys our potential longer-term love of the game. In fact, the club manager has already decided we would NOT enjoy ourselves. The capitalisation of the word is her emphasis and not mine. Instead – she has advised us to embark on a more structured approach that includes the expense of coaching, lessons and mentorship.

Personally – the idea of the golf day sounds a hell of a lot more fun as well as a fundamentally better introduction to the game than the latter advice.

Apparently the “suggestion” to prevent us from teeing off is “not intended to exclude anyone and hopefully not discourage the eager and brave souls from ever trying golf”. I do hope that the intention now is to ascertain whether any of the other “souls” signed up for the golf day are novices and exclude them as well.

Yes, we are certainly novices and no we do not own our own clubs, but the correspondence also makes the assumption that none of us have had any exposure to the game – a fact that neither the Bursary Fund nor the manager cared to clarify. Personally, I have been on a driving range; I have played a short round with some experienced golfers, and I have co-organised several industry golf days back in the day.

During these golf days I spent the majority of the day riding around in a golf cart, photographing and engaging with players – followed by assisting with the prize giving and engaging with the score cards.

It was through the organisation of these golf days that my reservations about hosting such events materialised. The number of women from the maritime industry that played over the course of several years could be counted on one hand. Each event turned into a male bonding fest that effectively discouraged inclusivity.

Having been asked to engage with the Bursary Fund previously about how to move their brand into the future and maintain a relevance for the next generation of maritime professionals, I voiced this exact concern, but did suggest that they at very least include a prize for the top lady player. Not even this hit the mark with their organising committee.

I was told that these events remain the easiest and best way to raise money. Yes, raising money for maritime bursaries is certainly important, but what happened to our commitment to make the industry more cognisant of creating an inclusive environment?

Given this lack of inclusivity, I am rather astounded at the nature of the correspondence received to inform us of their decision, which is inherently condescending in its nature – offering us the opportunity to come out on the day and be taken out “briefly” on a golf cart. The email also goes as far as to say: “I trust that this does not offend any of your team and that it will be taken in the positive spirit intended”.

My answer to this is quite simply: yes, it does offend, but us taking offence is almost irrelevant to the broader picture here. A more “positive spirit” could have been engendered had either the board or the club reached out and made suggestions to accommodate us rather than simply telling us to get ourselves together and try again next year.

Perhaps suggesting that we tee off last so as not to impact the field; or to split our four ball into two and look for four more experienced players to join each four ball (more four balls – more money for the fund) could have indicated a rather more positive response.

I dare say that there are many other creative suggestions that could have come to mind had they thought further than protecting “the sport that they both love” with the word no!

Interestingly, their Instagram account seems to indicate that you are welcome whether you know how to play golf or not.

Be like a bonobo

(Based on speech given at the the Imbokodo Transformation Agenda Award ceremony on 24 August 2022)

Faced with the task of delivering an uplifting and motivational maritime message, I searched the internet for some inspiration, but found nothing that really fitted the brief. So donning my journalist hat, I came up with a few titles that I thought might work: 

  • Achieving your maritime mission
  • 5 Easy ways to get ahead in your maritime career
  • Maritime gains over the last two decades
  • A collaborative approach for Maritime South Africa
  • Lift as you rise on the tide – or; 
  • Be like a Bonobo

As you can see from the title of the blog – I settled on the last topic: Be like a bonobo. 

When I was in Durban in 2019 for SAIMI’s (South African International Maritime Institute) Forward Thinking Conference, I went back to my hotel room and was fascinated by the story of the bonobos on the Discovery Channel. 

For those of you who may not know what a bonobo is – it is a primate rather closely related to the chimpanzee. In fact, the two species are almost entirely identical in terms of their genetic make-up. They are, however, vastly different in terms of their lifestyles. 

It turns out that the bonobo is a largely matriarchal society which is generally a peaceloving, chilled one where there is little aggression and where there is a genuine sense of community as well as a desire to act as a group and not as an individual. 

Interestingly, this is quite different from the chimpanzee who lives just across the river. On their side of the dividing water – they exhibit an aggressive lifestyle. The patriarchal society allows male chimps to dominate their female counterparts – often resulting in severe aggression that includes infanticide. 

The documentary showed footage of both sides of the river; cutting between the two societies to amplify the differences. The chimps were marauding, violent creatures where females were often at the mercy of the bigger, stronger males. While on the bonobos’ side of the river things appeared a little more like a hippy commune where the members languished in the sun and shared food; looked after each other’s infants and generally seemed to be living in utopia. 

The obvious question then is why and how? Why are these societies so different and how can we more emulate the bonobos?

Well it turns out that there is a very real reason for these differences. Apparently a massive drought impacted the side of the river on which the chimpanzees live in a way that resulted in food shortages as well as the need to protect scarce resources from other species such as the bigger gorilla. 

The chimpanzees needed to become more aggressive to survive. This aggression spilled over into their own community and generation after generation they passed on the scarcity trauma to their descendants – even as the drought eased and resources returned. As a result the chimpanzees became an aggressive, xenophobic society where not even its own members were safe. 

By comparison, on the other side of the river, the bonobos were not faced with these same challenges and were secure in the knowledge that enough resources were available to all. And in turn this culture of sharing was therefore inculcated amongst the community – and this became the ancestral gift passed from generation to generation. 

Now you may be wondering what on earth this has to do with the maritime industry? And that’s a good question. On the surface it has absolutely nothing to do with the maritime industry actually. 

But one of the issues that keeps popping up at maritime conferences and workshops is the lack of collaboration as companies, institutions and individuals try to protect their turf or domain in the industry. Now, I would suggest that makes us more like the chimpanzees than the bonobos. 

I do understand that the pie seems to be small, but continuously cutting it up into more and more pieces is simply going to make us more hungry to become focused on our own survival at the expense of the growth of the industry. 

The mere existence of a 3,000km coastline; the vast EEZ that the South Africa has access to as well as its position at the tip of Africa on a busy trade route between East and West, means that we should be more secure in the notion that we have the resources and opportunities to help us err towards the bonobo mindset.

Many have alluded to a number of gaps in the industry. Low hanging fruit and lost opportunities should highlight that we need to expand our vision of the maritime sector to embrace its ability to accommodate new entrants, women, youth and even the expansion of existing companies. 

We need the government to listen to industry in terms of what is required to unlock many of these opportunities. The ports need to act swiftly to a changing landscape and commit to timeous delivery of capital expenditure, licensing and partnerships while removing corruption as well as the bureaucracy that stifles growth. 

We also need industry to work collaboratively across sub sectors in a way that acknowledges synergies and breaks down silos. 

In the context of the Imbokodo Awards, the Women’s Conference and women’s month – I would suggest that we can take this desire to be like a bonobo even further. 

I would argue that we cannot attain bonobo status by narrowing our view to the very binary picture we currently have of gender roles. It is not so much about allowing women to be women in the maritime industry as it is about society allowing everyone to be themselves wherever they may land on the stereotypical feminine/masculine spectrum. 

And it certainly needs to challenge the idea that men should not adopt traditionally feminine roles just as much as it needs to address the idea that women can adopt leadership roles. It needs to be inculcated into our families where parents stop presenting different household chores to sons and daughters or where fathers automatically assume the place at the head of the table at dinner time. We can only truly be authentic when we shrug off stereotypes and allow ourselves to live in the way that feels natural to us. Not all of us are leaders; not all of us are caregivers – there is a huge spectrum of opportunity that lies between these two points. 

A glance at our bonobo society shows us that the males are not expected to be the leaders, but neither are the females. The power is not assumed by either gender – but rather shared across the troop in a way that underpins the notion that power is not a scarce commodity that naturally will result in the desire to dominate.

There are currently a number of overlapping initiatives within the industry to address the silo mentality; to improve the visibility of women and youth by unlocking opportunities; to create awareness and to expand the scope of our maritime sector within the global interest to lower carbon emissions as well as to create a greener maritime space.

We need to actively identify these overlaps and commit to addressing why we are not working together to reach these goals. 

And this is why we need to be more like the bonobo. There are no silos within the bonobo society. They are actively working as one community to ensure a sustainable future for the group as a whole. They are not intent in driving domination by any one over another and have, by default, created a society where all can thrive. 

So I leave you with this mantra: be like a bonobo – see your domain as one where you do not need to grab every opportunity; where there is space for all who surround you to acknowledge their strengths wherever they lie on the spectrum. And let us unlock the hereto locked blue economy opportunities by cutting bureaucracy, territoriality and a sense of scarcity. 

20 in 2022

It seems like it was a completely different universe that we launched the magazine in – and in some ways it was. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the magazine and its various platforms and I feel extremely proud that we not only survived the serious outfall of 2008, but have also managed to navigate the last two years of the COVID pandemic – albeit with a bit of fumbling.

We have some interesting initiatives planned to mark this milestone, but we cannot ignore the current economic and social climate that we are operating in. The last two years have brought some challenges and hard lessons, but have also given us the kick we needed to start to re-strategise how Maritime Review sees its future within the maritime Business-to-Business publishing environment.

Having left 2021 with a full blown dose of COVID’s omicron variant and entered this New Year still trying to return to health, I have a new perspective of what those who suffered through the earlier, less mild versions of the virus must have had to endure. I am grateful to have had a vaccination and to have only fallen ill at this stage.

In the spirit of this gratefulness and the start of my 20 in 2022 series, I would like to express what else we at the magazine are grateful for:

20 reasons to be grateful in 2022

  1. We are grateful to clients that supported the launch of the magazine in 2002.
  2. We are grateful to the clients that continued to support the magazine since then.
  3. We are grateful to the clients who have committed to supporting the title going forward.
  4. We are grateful to the many maritime stalwarts who have provided their input over the years.
  5. We are grateful for the new-comers that are beginning to stir up the industry.
  6. We are grateful for the prompts from industry about potential stories that should be written.
  7. We are grateful for those that supported some of our stranger initiatives like the Flash Mob and the Maritime Scrabble Tournament.
  8. We are grateful to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for their generous support of the Maritime Industry Awards gala events that we hope one day to relaunch.
  9. We are grateful to those that told us when we got facts wrong.
  10. We are grateful to clients like AMSOL (and their predecessors) who have been constant loyal supporters of our many initiatives.
  11.  We are grateful that the maritime industry continues to be an interesting and diverse sector with sub-sectors that assure that our work is seldom boring.
  12. We are grateful to have partnered with many event organisers over the years and look forward to continuing to do so.
  13. We are grateful to our followers on social media who remain engaged and vocal.
  14. We are grateful for the opportunities to collaborate with maritime stakeholders on the publishing of maritime related textbooks and handbooks.
  15. We are grateful to those who have agreed to be interviewed on the record about some of the more prickly subjects.
  16. We are grateful that many of our clients in the maritime sectors were seen as essential services during the beginning phases of the pandemic.
  17. We are grateful to have been witness to the launch of a number of locally-built vessels.
  18. We are grateful to have celebrated maritime milestones with many companies and individuals.
  19. We are grateful to have seen new companies launched and flourish.
  20. We are grateful that there are still opportunities for the title after 20 years.

Getting take-aways

Yesterday I picked up some maritime take-aways that did not involve fish and chips.

I accepted an invite to participate in a Maritime Security Roundtable hosted by the Institute for Security Studies Africa (ISS Africa) with a bit of trepidation based on my concern that I would not be able to add much value. Joining a group of varied maritime stakeholders, the discussion was interesting as well as diverse and highlighted several important issues that provided some important take-aways.

  • The marine and maritime space is far-reaching and complex in nature – making any discussion on governance and security equally diverse and complex.
  • Significant work is being done theoretically, academically and practically to improve South Africa’s and Africa’s ability to manage its own maritime domain – but much of this is not immediately visible or apparent.
  • This lack of visibility is, in part, due to the diverse range of stakeholders involved across government and industry – with the consequence of some duplication and gaps occurring.
  • While many consider Operation Phakisa a failed initiative, it did manage to provide deliverables in some areas. One such success is the creation of the Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) within SAMSA.
  • An Ocean Economy Master Plan is scheduled to be completed by December this year – outlining aspects of the maritime economy that require attention and offer opportunity. Although the process is being driven by government, labour and industry, there is still a perception that it is being held behind closed doors by some.
  • There is a lack of willingness to coordinate data from the industry to help make over-arching decisions, with many government departments, NGOs and Universities all accumulating research without an understanding of what has already been undertaken in the space.
  • Coastal communities are often not part of the discussions for solutions and/or their specific challenges are not understood within the context of the historical and present dynamics.
  • Training within the maritime space needs to be offset against actual employment opportunities. Training for unemployment cannot be an option.
  • There appears to be a lack of review of policies to understand where interventions have worked and where they have not. In addition, policy briefs are often ignored or not produced.
  • The slow pace of policy as well as legal instrument development is a massive problem with important legislation often becoming stalled and remaining in the pipeline for many years.
  • It was suggested that a major maritime disaster or set-back may be needed to strengthen government’s resolve to tackle a number of issues that remain unresolved.
  • A dedicated maritime department within government was once again discussed as a solution to coordinating the maritime efforts of the country; and that the maritime agenda needs to be raised more often within government structures.
  • While regional and continental bodies exist, these cannot override national interests. The AU needs to strengthen its maritime desk.
  • In the absence of true collaboration and visibility; many private companies are simply just getting on with it while policy and government strategy lags behind.

At the end of the day, most agreed that adding another maritime intervention or initiative to the space would simply further the fragmentation of efforts. More collaboration and coordination are the ultimate solutions. Sadly, this is a common refrain and will take significant effort for stakeholders to pay more than lip service to the notion of breaking down silos.

Thank you to my hosts and fellow-panellists for a most interesting afternoon of discussions. It was also good to get out from behind the computer screen and zoom meetings to engage in person – albeit behind masks.

My final comments

Last week I joined a panel to discuss Women in Maritime. Over the last few years I have participated in a number of similar discussions and felt privileged to have been invited to do so, but I have decided to make my final comments on this issue in this blog.

As of today – 26 October 2021 – this is where I believe the industry stands with regard to promoting and enabling the careers of women. I want to touch on a couple of frequently deliberated topics that pop up in these webinars:

[If you happen to be reading this blog post from some date far in the future –
I do hope that more change has occurred and that the actual content of this post is redundant.

Is the maritime industry a male-dominated industry?
Yes it is.

Is gender transformation being actively pursued?
Yes it is, but it needs to be realistically addressed.

Is it currently more difficult for women than men to advance in the maritime industry?
The industry consists of so many sectors and sub-sectors that some of these remain more challenging for women than for men. One is likely to find it more challenging in the offshore environment as a woman for a number of reasons that are currently being addressed within the industry.

One also only has to look at the composition of many multi-national companies’ executives and boards to understand that women are not being considered for these positions – which makes people assume that a female here and there is simply a token appointment even if she is not.

Some significant progress has, however, been made in the government and parastatal space where the increase in women representation over the last few years is self-evident. International and national industry associations are also playing an important role in identifying capable women leaders.

What can women contribute to the industry?
Women are able to contribute in the same way men are able to contribute. Women can arrive at a place of work and, provided that they have had access to the same opportunities and training, can do exactly what men can do at that place of work – whatever that place of work represents across the maritime sectors.

How can men ensure that they are allies in the workplace?
Men simply need to be decent human beings in the same way that women need to be decent human beings in any workplace. A good start for some men, however, is to drop the micro-aggressions that suggest that you have made the assumption that your female work colleague may not know as much as you or may have a different work ethic to you simply because she is a woman before she is able to disprove or prove this.

Also – drop the male bravado. We do not need “locker room talk” – not even in the locker room contrary to what Trump may have permitted many to believe.

Oh – and get a little more creative than industry golf days or soccer tournaments to foster community. Seriously, both of these sports have traditionally concentrated on attracting men; and women remain under-represented. It is possible to literally count the number of lady golfers at these networking/fundraising days on one hand. And I really do not think it remains the task of women to consider playing golf, simply because this was a networking activity chosen by men in the distant past.

What advice would you give to young women entering/rising in the industry?
Get on with it. Show up and speak up. Do not see yourself as a token employee, but rather as a valuable asset that your company obviously saw potential in when they hired you. Prove them right. Never stop learning and seek mentors as well as collaborators. And when you inevitably succeed – gaze down the talent pipeline and act as a mentor and collaborator with the next generation coming up behind you.

What is the role of women leaders in the maritime industry?
The role of women leaders is, and will always be, the same as the role of male leaders:

  • To grow the industry sustainably.
  • To provide space for the next generation of men and women to gain skills, experience and expertise.
  • To mentor, provide opportunities and construct succession plans to ensure sustainability.
  • To foster accountability and collaboration.
  • To retire – satisfied in the knowledge that the industry is in good hands.

What should the future employment landscape of the maritime industry look like?
Assuming that the industry has done the work to promote awareness across a diversity of platforms and geographic areas – the ideal future hiring ethos should be based purely on merit. No person wants to be employed as the token anything (gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation).

Sadly we are not there yet – and equally sadly, the notion of quotas still needs to be considered as some companies resist acknowledging the benefits of voluntarily embracing diversity in the interest of a homogenous company culture.

I am sure that there is more to be said, but I do hope that we can step beyond these conversations and simply get on with what needs to be done. There are also some excellent women-orientated industry organisations and associations that understand that this is not simply a topic that needs to be addressed in isolation of our male colleagues. They are – and will continue to – address these issues until the time such discussions become superfluous.

Calling it a day

What happens when you wake up on any particular day and you realise that today is THAT day?

I’ve often wondered what goes into the creation of a day. Not in terms of how the sun rises and sets or anything else relating to the laws of nature – but rather: who decides on the creation of international days that recognise various topics or groups, and how does one go about getting the world to agree to mark it on their calendar?

Today is International Maritime Day 2021. The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping. The event’s date varies by year and country, but it is always held during the last week of September.

According to sources on the internet, World Maritime Day was first held on March 17, 1978 to mark the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force in 1958. 

Traditionally (before the advent of COVID-19) a country would be chosen to host a parallel event. Last year would have seen South Africa step up to meet the challenge of hosting international maritime dignitaries had travel not been impeded by the pandemic.

As such the pomp and ceremony has been replaced by virtual commemorations and observances of the date. The theme for this year reflects a clear need to raise awareness of seafarersʹ crucial role in world trade and increase their visibility. The crew change crisis in 2020 highlighted seafarersʹ contribution as key and essential workers on the front line of delivering vital goods through a pandemic and in ordinary times. The international community has seen how the ability for shipping services and seafarers to ensure the functioning of the global supply chains has been central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic.

Sadly, however, a day of observance is just that. Since the start of the pandemic we have observed two International Seafarer Days and now two World Maritime Days – and still seafarers are struggling against unfriendly regimes and port authorities in some places.

And so, as everyone scrambles to show that they know what day it is and prove that they care by sharing messages on social media and distributing press releases about how they intend to observe the day – we lose sight of the day’s underlying intention. Everyone simply observes the day and tomorrow carries on with their business as usual.

Well – next month is Maritime Month in South Africa and our challenge should be to act on the many resolutions we have made in conferences, workshops and seminars over the years that remain unfulfilled.

In fact – we should make all the days we have in our calendar count.

23 MarchWorld Meteorological Day2021
2 MayWorld Tuna Day2016
5 JuneInternational Day for Fighting against IUU Fishing2016
8 JuneWorld Oceans Day1992
25 JuneInternational Day of the Seafarer2016
25 JulyWorld Drowning Prevention Day2021
30 JulyWorld Day against Trafficking in Persons2013
27 SeptWorld Tourism Day1980
SeptWorld Maritime Day1978
5 NovWorld Tsunami Awareness Day2015

Running aground

When a ship runs aground, a team of experienced salvors, surveyors and mariners come together to ensure that she is safely refloated and either sent to the dry dock for repairs or scuppered at sea. During this time, the public is kept abreast of the progress and made aware of any potential environmental danger that the casualty poses to the marine environment. Behind the scenes a host of inter-agency and inter-departmental decision-making is taking place and a cohesive statement of details is presented to ensure that the relay of factual information is continuously available.

We ran aground and ignored some of this protocol.

With one of the biggest assets in our fleet temporarily aground – the printed version of the magazine – we have attempted to continue to operate in a “business as usual” way without the proper communication and acknowledgment of the true nature of the situation. While we have managed to continue on some levels, the grounding can no longer be ignored.

The tide is turning, however, and we are seeing signs that we can achieve a successful refloat and avoid scuppering our valuable asset.

Nautical terminology aside, we are in the process of ensuring that Maritime Review does not become another maritime media statistic that joins several major titles that have closed in recent years around the globe.

It is time to communicate properly in this regard as well as outline our plan going forward. The hard facts that we cannot ignore are that, as a magazine that relies solely on advertising budget to survive, we have to tweak our business model. The reality is that many companies are struggling and simply do not have the marketing budget that they had in the past – and are looking at other ways to maximise their own spend.

The majority of our content has always been free to the industry, and we are still aiming to continue to offer this service, but we will be developing premium content that will only be available to subscribers.

Our printed magazine remains a central point of our brand, but times have changed. Much of our audience now consumes content digitally. We are competing with citizen journalists who can record and release “news” as it unfolds in front of them. We are competing with social media that costs many companies very little to access and disseminate their own content.

As such it is the printed magazine that has hit the hard ground. Quite simply, we have not been able to print the first issue yet. That’s the reality. That’s the ship aground.

But we are implementing a decisive plan and want our public to be aware of how we intend managing the process going forward.

Issue One – which is currently still in production will be released purely as a digital version. It has been impacted not only by the decrease in marketing budget available, but also now by the situation in the country that has rocked distribution channels. Although severely impacted by these realities, this issue includes some amazing content that we do not simply want to scupper.

As such, we have upgraded our online hosting plan to help us create a richer audience experience of the magazine and allow for detailed engagement analysis. Our new hosting plan allows for the inclusion of video and audio within the online magazine. We are excited about the opportunities that this could offer us and our clients.

In addition, we will pursue all avenues to ensure that we reach the same audience and more. This will serve as the testing ground for our pursuit of whether we convert completely to online delivery in 2022 or not. 

Currently we are still aiming to print the remaining three issues of the year after releasing Issue One digitally, but will curate the online experience making it richer than the printed version as we move forward.

Our content themes for the remainder of the year are as follows:

  • Issue 2: Marine Engineering and the Offshore Sector
  • Issue 3: Ports, Harbours and Related services
  • Issue 4: Safety, Security and Incident response

Our aim needs to be to remain a trusted source of relevant, analytical, in-depth content that is accessible to stakeholders in the maritime industry.

In the meantime, we are also in the process of updating and upgrading the magazine’s official website. The new Buyers Guide is almost ready to be revealed.

We are also working on getting back On The Quayside to talk to the long list of interesting maritime people that we have compiled.

We note too the need for closer collaboration with the industry we serve and acknowledge the irony of some of the previous admonishing we have dealt out towards other stakeholders in this regard.

Just recently we did collaborate to create a song tribute on the International Day of the Seafarers which is now actually being refined by a new band to add percussion, base and viola. We have also taken the lyrics from the song to create merchandise (T-shirts and Shopper Bags) to help fundraise for the GBOBA Bursary Fund.

So is the vessel afloat? Well, not entirely – but it is a long way from being scuppered. Please do get in touch and join our team of salvors to ensure that we keep maritime journalism alive on the continent.

New port of call

After 20 years of operating from the same offices, we are lifting anchors and sailing on to a new port of call. While packing up the boxes (and boxes) of past magazines, interview notes and drawers of catalogued photos – it’s both overwhelming and satisfying to acknowledge what we have accomplished over almost two decades.

They say that a change is as good as a holiday, but I have been inspired by the vast topics we have covered during our time in these offices and aim to keep the engines running and navigate an even more adventurous course ahead. No time for a holiday right now!

While the next two weeks will require some dry docking time, we are still available to engage with the industry and look forward to plotting our course from new premises.

The telephone and postal contact details for Maritime Review will remain unchanged.
Tel: 021 914 1157
PO Box 3842, Durbanville, 7551