A sailor friend has shared a beautiful video from NASDAILY, highlighting the very basic problem of ownership of blame in the Shipping Industry.
The video talks of two recent incidents two bring home the point. 1st incident that it speaks of is of a Japanese Ship M.V. WAKASHIO that has run aground near Mauritius. The vessel struck a coral reef on July 25, spilling about 1,000 tons of fuel oil and endangering corals, fish and other marine life in what some scientists have called the country’s worst ecological disaster.
Oil Spill caused by M.V. Wakashio
“The weather is expected to deteriorate over the next few days with waves of up to 4.5 meters (15 feet), authorities said. Most of the oil from the vessels have been pumped out, the Mauritian government said on Thursday, but there was still 166 tons of fuel oil inside and authorities were working to remove it.
Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on Saturday Tokyo planned to send a team of officials from the ministry and other specialists to assess the damage. The MV Wakashio is owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping and chartered by Mitsui OSK Lines.
Scientists say the full impact of the spill is still unfolding, but the damage could affect Mauritius and its tourism-dependent economy for decades.
Removing the ship is likely to take months. Former colonial power France has said it will assist with the cleanup.”
This is not the first case of an oil spill by a ship, and certainly not the last one. Every years many ships are involved in accidents resulting in large spills of oil in the ocean. A person who is not familiar with the shipping trade may wonder how the Japanese Ship could be involved in something which doesn’t become their reputation? But Shipping world is entirely a microcosm of its own. The owners of the shipping companies unlike other businesses are free to register their ships at any port of register of their choice. This gives them a great advantage of being free of the tax liabilities and punitive laws of land that may snare the owner in to legal battles with consequent heavy penalties. Perhaps, it was seen hundreds of years ago, by the shipping companies who ruled the trade and thus the shipping laws were framed to help the owners with attractive terms of operation. 99% of the ships sailing in the oceans are registered in one three of four nations that run it as a business, they are Panama, Liberia and Bahamas. There are ten to fifteen other small island nations whose economies are dependent on Ship Registration and they as such are so poor that what to say of paying for the damages, they can’t even afford to buy the ships they register and give what is called as “The Flag of Convenience” to the ships for trading around the world.
M.V. Rhosus- that delivered 2750 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate to Beirut Port in 2013
The other disaster that the above video talks of is the massive blast that rocked the Beirut port on August 5, 2020, killing 150 people. It is said that the ship named M.V. Rhosus bearing Moldovian flag, delivered 2750 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate, which was lying in the Port godowns ( perhaps tied up in legal disputes, stored and left as forgotten) for all these years, perhaps for some one to light a fuse, which eventually happened.
Beirut Port- Video of Explosion 1
The world trade can’t come to stand-still. Sea route has been the chosen and the most economical route for transportation of cargo since thousands of years. All sorts of cargo including Oil and Ammunition is carried on the vessels. There are safety laws and there are regulations and procedure. In my thirty five years of career spent at sea, I have seen a lot of it and this exclusive page is for bringing to you those stories.
Another Video of Explosion at Beirut Port
But for now here is a bit about how international shipping business in a few lines from “Memoirs of a Sailor”, a kind of a journal of my experiences written in verses. There are nearly two hundred pages of these, unedited, tucked away in my diaries.
And the business in shipping
is truly international
And it’s difficult to catch and charge
anyone connected to it by decree
except those who work onboard,
be it a tanker, a bulker, a dhow or a barge
because the laws of a nation
don’t work beyond the borders of the country
Like for an example an owner Greek
living in America since long
owning a fleet
Flying Monrovian flag
And Norwegian Class
operates through Hong Kong
based management company
employing crew of many nations
to lend their A#$@
With Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi crew
Ukranian, Yugoslavian and some Phillipinos too
The ship is arrested in Peru
for carrying prohibited tree bark
picked up from China.
The P & I of North of England is looking in to,
And here are some more verses
The custodians of the laws on luxury yachts
with buxom babes sunning on deck main
with a flag of convenience atop aflutter
the putter does nothing much but butters
his toasts on both sides and putts
all day and dines at nights
with one hand holding glass of exotic wine
and the other on the gorgeous butts
This world belongs to the rich who rule
and lay some down for others to obey
employ some fools and pay
them well to tell the world
how concerned are they
About the dangers that may
destroy this planet one day
And they armed with authority
learn to enjoy the gay
pleasures of power
when the hoi-polloi pray for mercy.
This in short is a sailor’s life at sea.
Note:- All videos are WhatsApp forwards and all pictures for internet for representation purposes only.
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