The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Like all industries, there are many faces to the work we do and the services we provide. Shipping is a noble industry with many facets. Most are good, which goes unrecognized. Unfortunately, it is the bad and the ugly that captures the attention of the public and becomes the “face” of the industry.
For the past several months, tremendous efforts have been made to illuminate the value of the industry to global society in its delivery of essential food, medical supplies, goods and energy and how the COVID-19 epidemic has impacted our ability to effect crew changes because mariners are not classed as “essential workers”. The nobility of their work has been upheld, and the sacrifices they have made by continuing in their jobs well past their contract dates communicated.
The actions of a small cadre, though, cast a shadow over the entire industry. As details emerge of how the Wakashio came to run up on a reef in Mauritius, defiling pristine protected waters with over 1,000 tonnes of bunker fuel, the storyline rapidly devolves to the bad and the ugly. Charges of poor seamanship by its flag state damn the actions of the ship’s leadership team as they deviated off course to gain telephone and internet connectivity. The lack of these basic services damns the company, and the spill itself damns our industry.
Life isn’t perfect. Mistakes happen. But an event like this illuminates weaknesses in our global industry that are not tolerated in a world of increasing transparency, accountability, and instant global communications. These events, completely founded on human error, must end if we want the value proposition of what we DO contribute to be recognized and honored.
Carleen Lyden Walker
Chief Evolution Officer
IMO Maritime Ambassador