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September 27, 2018

The World Maritime Day (WMD) is being annually celebrated under the ambit of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in the last week of September. The IMO, for those who may not be aware, is the principal organ of the United Nations dealing with and coordinating all maritime related issues ranging from safety, security and environmental concerns to training standards of seafarers and even technical cooperation aspects. It is this organisation which, mindful of the massive contribution made by the international maritime industry in bolstering the global economy, instituted the World Maritime Day that has since become a regular annual feature in the calendar of all seafaring nations. The first time this day was celebrated was on 17 March 1978 to mark the 30thanniversary of the convention which created the IMOs parent organisation, the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. The member states have since swelled from 21 to 174 at present. Pakistan became member of IMO in 1958. As in 2018, IMO celebrates 70 years since 1948 when the Convention establishing the Organization was adopted. While commemorating the day, the IMO keeps highlighting a different aspect of its work each year. This day also serves as a reminder to all and sundry that a vibrant and sustainable blue economy is a boon to all mankind.

While the IMO picks a specific date during the last week of every September for its own celebration, it allows each individual government the flexibility to select its own date within the same week. This year IMO selected 27 September as the date for celebrating World Maritime Day. The IMO also chooses an appropriate theme each year to lay a suitable emphasis on. Taking a cue from last year’s theme about ‘Connecting Ships, Ports and People’ the current theme, much more ambitious, is about “IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future”. It is arguably for the first time that maritime nations are being thematically nudged into viewing the vital inter-connectivity between better shipping principal components that yield better future for countries in maritime sphere.

One cannot help notice that the broader term ‘better shipping’ has been used in lieu of the ubiquitous ‘seafarer’ as had earlier been the norm. The word ‘better shipping’ goes way beyond seafarer to encompass all those involved in the maritime industry in any way. As a matter of fact, all those participating in any manner for ‘better shipping’ robust cyclic activity have a valid claim for ‘better future’. This is not to say that the role of seafarers in the trade thriving at sea stands diminished. The contribution of seafarers for better shipping is unique in its own way. The seafarers spend long and lonely hours at sea but relentlessly battle despondency, human scourges and the elements at the same time in a bid to keep the wheels of world trade rolling along. The IMO had in fact singled out the seafarers for a signal honour by dedicating the year 2010 as the year of the seafarer, which also constituted the theme of that year’s World Maritime Day. A similar theme about the role of the seafarer in the globalisation process had also resounded some nine years earlier. The unique contribution made by seafarers to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole has also been recognised by the maritime fraternity of nations by designating 25 June as the day of the seafarer. The seafarers that overall contribute for better shipping abide by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers(STCW). This convention was established on the needs of basic requirements on training, certification and watch keeping for seafarers on an international level. Previously the standards of training, certification and watch keeping of officers and ratings were established by individual governments, usually without reference to practices in other countries.

Read the full article here 

World Maritime Day theme 2019: “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”
September 7, 2018

“Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” has been selected as the World Maritime Day theme for 2019. This will provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to highlight the important contribution of women all over the world to the maritime sector.

The Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), meeting for its 120th session at IMO Headquarters in London, endorsed the theme, following a proposal by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.

“IMO has a strong commitment to helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and continues to support the participation of women in both shore-based and seagoing posts, in line with the goals outlined under SDG 5: ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’,” Mr Lim said.

“This theme will give IMO the opportunity to work with various maritime stakeholders towards achieving the SDGs, particularly SDG 5, to foster an environment in which women are identified and selected for career development opportunities in maritime administrations, ports and maritime training institutes and to encourage more conversation for gender equality in the maritime space,” Mr. Lim said.

Read the full article here 

The UK’s Reliance on Seafarers
June 22, 2018

Seafarers Awareness Week 2018 will start 23 June, coordinated and promoted by Seafarers UK. This year the focus is on UK maritime employment opportunities, including shore-based jobs, with an emphasis on engineering – one sector in which the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Commercial Shipping are currently struggling to recruit people.

The maritime industry is one of the most important for the UK, as an estimated 95% of imports arrive by ship, including much of our everyday food and fuel. Regardless of this dependency many people are completely unaware of the essential role of the shipping industry, the seafarers who work in it, and the importance of our sea ports.

To give you an insight into the maritime industry, here are some interesting facts you may not know about:


The UK’s most valuable food export is chocolate: £571m exported every year.


The UK imports 565,000 tonnes of potatoes every year, the equivalent to 38,750 London buses!


A large cargo ship contains as much steel as 8 Eiffel Towers and has a capacity equivalent to 22,000 20-foot containers. Those containers would fill more than 30 trains each a mile long and stacked two containers high. Inside them you could fit 863 million tins of baked beans.


A single 20-foot container can hold approximately 48,000 bananas and the average container vessel can carry 746 million in a single voyage.That’s enough to give everyone in Europe and North America a banana for breakfast. 


The UK’s sea ports handle over half a billion tonnes of goods a year. That’s more than 8 tonnes or a small lorry load for each person in the UK.


65 million seafarers are employed by the global shipping industry.


120,000 people from the UK work at sea.


As an island nation the UK relies on shipping for 95% of its imports and exports.


The average container ship will travel three quarters of the way to the moon every year during its trip across the oceans.


Many Merchant Navy seafarers work at sea for more than 9 months every year.


Seafarers UK gives grants totalling £2.5 million to other maritime charities and projects every year.




Christmas working at sea
January 3, 2018

Christmas Eve on Board: How do our crews celebrate Christmas?

How does one celebrate Christmas at sea? What’s the mood like? What are the rituals and traditions? And what is – and isn’t – allowed? We asked these questions to Arnold Lipinski, Senior Director Marine Fleet Personnel in Hamburg, who himself spent many Christmas Eves on board a ship when he was still a seafarer.

Read full article here https://www.hapag-lloyd.com/en/news-insights/insights/2017/12/christmas-eve-on-board–how-do-our-crews-celebrate-christmas-.html


National Poetry Day 2016 ~ Poems of Sailors and Seafarers
October 6, 2016

The 6th October marks National Poetry Day and we wanted to celebrate by sharing with you some poems of sailors and seafarers. The sea has always been an attractive setting and symbol in literature, its presence in poetry ranges from ancient beginnings; Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, to the present day.

Sailboat in rough seas, St. Lucia, Carribean

Prince Charles highlighted the importance of shipping in poetry by launching National Poetry Day with Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Shipping Forecast’.

National Poetry Day

His recording of the poem was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today earlier this morning as part of the annual nationwide poetry celebration.

If you missed it you can listen here:


“A poem can reach places that prose just can’t” – Susannah Herbert , National Poetry Day director

The theme for National Poetry Day 2016 is ‘Messages’ and Susannah Herbert is encouraging the public to “say it with a poem”.

You can also get involved on Twitter with the hashtag #NationalPoetryDay


Other events to be aware of on National Poetry Day 2016 in the UK:

  • The Royal Mail are using a special postmark on millions of items today
  • Poems by young refugees and migrants will replace the short video introductions that appear before each programme on Channel 4
  • 40 BBC local radio stations have engaged poets to celebrate England’s best-loved local landmarks in verse
  • In London, Poetry tickets will be distributed to passengers at St Pancras International station
  • In London, The Poetry Society will announce the top 15 winners and 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016 at the Festival Hall
  • In London, Singer PJ Harvey will collaborate with young poetry producers at the Southbank Centre.
  • In Wales, four young poets are being locked away to compose 100 poems in 24 hours
  • In Scotland, 380,000 poetry postcards have been given away by the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.
  • In Glasgow, poets, librarians and Big Issue street vendors will give poetry readings around the city.
  • In Northern Ireland, the finals of the Ireland National Poetry competition will be held at the Parliament Buildings in Stormont.


Essential Reading

Other classic English sea poems well worth a read today:

Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Sailor Boy

Christina Rossetti – A Ballad of Boding

D.H. Laurence – The Mystic Blue

Ezra Pound – The Seafarer

Robert Louis Stevenson – Christmas at Sea

Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Thomas Hardy – The Convergence of the Twain

Transport minister Lord Ahmad sets out maritime vision to meet challenges ahead.
September 20, 2016


I am delighted to be here this morning to address this inaugural UK Chamber of Shipping Summit.

A thought provoking and engaging day lies ahead with so many leading figures from industry and government here in this room.

The programme for the day is wide-ranging, tackling some of the most significant challenges and opportunities facing shipping both now and in the future.

I will use the privilege of providing the keynote address to set out my own thoughts and leave you with some food for thought – and maybe a little bit of homework for good measure!

The United Kingdom has undergone a period of significant change since the vote to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June.

As our new Prime Minister has said, as we leave the EU we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world.

We must look to economic and industrial strategy, global trade and social reform to ensure Britain’s place in the world and a strong future for all Britons.

Already the PM has shown the intent of our new government, and I believe that an innovative, successful and world-leading transport sector is absolutely fundamental to our future prosperity and continued success on the world stage.

That is why I was very pleased to be part of the new Ministerial team in the Department for Transport.

I know from my own experience that the maritime sector is absolutely vital to our success.

Our latest estimate is that the sector contributes over £13 billion to the UKeconomy.

This is comparable to other high value industries like the aerospace and road freight.

And it is a significant employer supporting at least 110,000 jobs and over 6,800 businesses – and that is possibly a conservative estimate.

The UK is undoubtedly still a world-leading maritime centre, and it is our intent for it to remain so.

As recent reports attest, we remain highly competitive in the fields of maritime business services, maritime training and in areas like marine manufacturing and research.

At the heart of our success is a skilled and expert workforce making significant contributions to driving local growth as well as national and international success.

And we have hugely successful industries like UK based cruise operators with a record 1.8 million Britons embarking on cruises in 2015, adding over £2.3 billion to the UK economy.

I know that everyone in this room is committed to growing the number of UKshipping companies, and the UK fleet remains hugely significant when UKowned vessels are combined with those that are parent owned or managed.

We are all aware of the very challenging trading conditions that the industry is currently experiencing.

Despite this, I understand that the Chamber has increased its membership.

This is testament to your work and the wide-ranging support you provide our shipping sector.

The UK remains a leading maritime nation that is highly regarded the world over, and recognised for its expertise, experience and quality.

However, as we look to forge a positive role for ourselves in the world, we must all be confident, more than ever before, that we can compete for business on the world stage, and that we believe in our maritime offer.

A central theme of today’s summit is to create a plan for the future of shipping in the UK, so let me turn to the forward agenda.

Today’s summit is just over a year since the publication of the Maritime growth study.

There will be a number of government and industry events through autumn that will consider the progress we have made and to renew and identify future objectives.

I have seen encouraging signs of progress.

An ever closer collaboration between government and industry – with Maritime UK providing an increasingly authoritative voice for the maritime sector as a whole.

As the former skills minister, I heard first-hand the issues that matter to the industry at the maritime skills breakfast.

A great deal of work is underway identifying the future skills needs of the maritime sector and how best to support those needs.

Our people matter hugely to the growth of the sector.

I note that one of your sessions later today will debate the UK seafarer training offer examining what is needed to create the next seafaring generation.

Let me say a little about what the department is doing.

We have two reviews underway. One is to assess the how many seafarers will be needed in the UK in future. The other is the SMarT Review where we are looking to see if it is still fit for purpose.

Some of you will have been involved in these pieces of work already and we are grateful for that input.

We also appreciate the concern that some of you have voiced that care needs to be taken over the review and any subsequent decision.

I would again emphasise the importance of engaging with us.

Give us your evidence on the advantages of SMarT and ideas for alternative proposals such as SMarT plus. Now is the time to feed those ideas in and provide the detail behind them as the review is taken forward.

Perhaps the most important strand of work for many of you in this room is our ambitions to reform the UK Ship Register and to grow the UK flag.

I have heard on many occasions the importance of a growing flag and a competitive ship register to the UK.

I know that there is much we get right but there is also much more to do.

Our competitors want our business and they have shown themselves to be determined, flexible and agile in their pursuit.

We cannot expect to grow the UK flag on reputation or history and if we stand still we will find ourselves moving backwards.

That is why the government is absolutely determined to press on with the transformation of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Work is well underway to explore the commercial opportunities that exist and to bring a responsiveness to our customers that they expect and deserve.

You will hear later this afternoon from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency about the progress they are making, their determination to deliver reform, and how they are driving progress with significant programmes of work underway.

Reforming the UK Ship Register, creating the right conditions to support existing companies and growing the flag further must be central to our plans.

As we leave the EU and form a new relationship and gain success with it, we must present ourselves as a world-class maritime flag in a strategically advantageous location.

So as we seek to transform the UK Ship Register, I would ask that you work with us to help us get the offer right, hold us to account if you think we are not making the right changes, and be the advocates as progress is made.

We must be clear about the challenges that exiting the EU presents too.

I know that uncertainty is unhelpful and the sooner we can provide clarity the better.

I also know that this is a negotiation we want to get absolutely right for the benefit of our country and for your businesses.

The maritime industry has been quick to engage with the Department for Transport about the challenges that exiting the EU could raise.

I know that you are up for addressing them.

I would encourage you to keep articulating those concerns.

Make sure that your priorities for negotiations are heard and understood.

Complex decisions lie ahead as we shape our future trading relationships outside the EU.

They will be vitally important to the shipping and maritime sector as a whole.

But I am optimistic we can address these challenges together and promote all that the UK has to offer.

The UK now has a unique opportunity to shape a bright future as a global trading nation with an open economy.

An important part of that future will be in developing the strongest possible trade and investment relationship with the EU and across the world.

Central to the government’s plans is our vision for an industrial strategywhich is about boosting productivity, creating good jobs and delivering economic growth.

The shipping sector has an important story to tell as an enabler of the industrial strategy as well as a significant industry in its own right.

In government, it will be driven by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

But they will need to work closely across government and with a range of organisations.

Transport has a vital role at the heart of the industrial strategy both as an enabler, providing the supply chain and infrastructure needed to deliver the strategy, and as an economically significant sector in its own right.

The maritime sector as a whole is absolutely central to the government’s vision.

Many of our ambitions for the strategy match the maritime growth agenda.

They include increasing exports, delivering maritime clusters, identifying and fostering innovation in emerging technologies like autonomous ships, developing a skilled workforce to compete with our international rivals, and championing the role of consumers and passengers.

With these objectives in mind, I’d like to conclude today with an early advert for London International Shipping Week 2017.

Many of you will recall the incredible success of Shipping Weeks in 2013 and 2015.

And I know a number of you were instrumental in making them such a success.

I myself had the pleasure of attending the Mersey Maritime reception, and as a keen proponent of early years learning, I also visited a school in Scarborough to help inspire the future generation of maritime professionals.

I’m delighted that we are already working closely in partnership to deliver a high profile week of events next year.

London International Shipping week 2017 will bring leaders from across international maritime industries together for a dynamic and exciting week.

I would encourage you all to seize the opportunity and make it the best week yet.

Finally, the importance of the continued strong collaboration between government and industry is key.

The Chamber has a hugely vital role in representing the shipping sector with innovative and timely events like today’s summit.

And as a whole the sector speaks with an ever more powerful voice through Maritime UK.

I am delighted that the Chamber, like many maritime bodies, has seen the value in joining forces on the issues that matter across the sector.

That collaboration is as vital now as we plan and deliver a successful future outside of the EU, as we place our industrial strategy at the heart of government policy, and as we continue to drive forward the maritime growth agenda.

Thank you.

Essay Competitions – Winner 2015
September 8, 2016



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So, who is behind the Came by SHIP campaign?
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