Lowering the boom on maritime schools

Posted on Tuesday 24th March 2015

Detail of The Last Judgement, 1904 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov

Philippine authorities recently put out a “white list” of 23 maritime schools with 41 others having to undergo further review. Many folks might welcome the development; some schools have such low standards that their owners should not even be allowed to operate a coffeehouse. But those who, like us, would like to see genuine reforms have serious questions about this entire process.
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15 quotes on power for maritime folks

Posted on Friday 13th March 2015


It’s not money, as is commonly thought, that drives the maritime industry. It’s power. It is the one thing that ultimately shapes and colours how maritime individuals and organisations act and relate to one another. Some, because of their work, position or status, wield more power than others, but not always wisely — e.g., maritime bureaucrats, corporate executives, union officials, inspectors and even journalists. Here are some timeless quotations on the subject:
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Six wanted changes in the maritime press

Posted on Friday 6th March 2015


We abandoned maritime journalism in 2009 to go into maritime blogging. Since then, we’ve been invited a couple of times to write for certain international publications. But we’ve almost always declined. The maritime press is not what it used to be. With very few exceptions, it has become insipid and uninspired – like the coffee served in some popular coffeehouses.
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State support for seafarer education

Posted on Monday 2nd March 2015


Given how Filipinos boast of being the top crew-supplying nation, one would expect local maritime education and training (MET) institutions to enjoy plenty of State support. Not so. Such establishments are objects of regulation, to be watched and kept under control like a kennel of dogs.
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A code of conduct for seafarers

Posted on Friday 27th February 2015


We are sorely tempted to write a code of conduct for seafarers – something akin to Bushidõ, the code for the samurai of old Japan (pictured above). The shipping industry talks incessantly of seafarers’ rights and has made a fetish of it. How often does one hear about the duties of seamen and the values they need to cultivate?
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A galleon model and ghosts from the past

Posted on Tuesday 10th February 2015


We’ve been looking for a proper, Filipino-built, model of a Spanish galleon to add to our personal nautical collection. Alas, our long search has come to naught. The models we’ve seen are all poorly designed and constructed from cheap wood, obviously by folks who know nothing about ship architecture. We finally decided to purchase a tiny, rather simplified, galleon model made of tin (pictured above) and a Conquistador minifigure from Lego to go with it.
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Duty before right in the shipping sector

Posted on Sunday 8th February 2015


Isn’t there too much emphasis on rights and not enough on duties in the shipping industry? It may seem strange that we ask. Just a few days ago, we made a call for the imposition of fines on shipowners who violate seafarers’ rights. It’s about time, however, that maritime folks and the world at large embraced the concept of duty before right, as two great thinkers of the 20th century had suggested.
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Seafarers’ rights: penalising the violators

Posted on Wednesday 4th February 2015


Time to get down to brass tacks.

In countries such as the US and Canada, shipowners could face hefty fines for serious breaches of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Marpol 73/78) and national laws that reinforce the treaty. Shouldn’t there be similar penalties on shipowners who violate seafarers’ rights as enshrined in ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006?
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Sea disasters and regard for seafarers

Posted on Friday 30th January 2015

Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth
Oil on canvass, circa 1842, by Joseph Mallord William Turner

“He that will learn to pray, let him go to sea,” wrote the 17th-century British poet and priest, George Herbert. Those words ring louder following the spate of sea disasters that greeted the start of 2015. Unlike other writers, we won’t ask why maritime accidents still happen or how shipping can be made safer. Let the IMO bigwigs and self-styled marine safety gurus wrestle with those issues. We’ll just ask one simple question: If the sea remains a dangerous place and seafaring a dangerous profession, how come there isn’t more empathy toward seamen?
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A singular maritime wish for 2015

Posted on Tuesday 30th December 2014


It’s been our practice to share our dreams and wishes for the coming new year. For 2014, we listed a number of changes we hoped to see in shipping – from the way women in the maritime industry are treated by men to the way the maritime press conducts itself. We have but one wish for 2015: Peace.
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A cat’s 2014 maritime year-ender

Posted on Monday 29th December 2014


Frankie the Philosopher Cat consented to one more interview before the close of the year. Speaking with him is always a pleasure and a privilege for us. How many people will give you their honest opinion on maritime matters and not dish out motherhood statements and the usual catchphrases? Certainly not the maritime bureaucrats. Here’s how our conversation with Frankie went:
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Seashell art and the art of soap

Posted on Tuesday 23rd December 2014


Manila is hardly a mecca of nautical art and decor. So when we first caught a glimpse of the soaps made by the wife of Norwegian expat Helge Oliversen, Employer’s Representative at Wilhelmsen Smith Bell Manning, we immediately ordered a set (pictured above). Mrs Oliversen’s home-made creations are so exquisite they’re like a small oasis in the cultural desert.
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Far East
John B Lacson
CF Sharp