25th June has been christened as the ‘Day of the Seafarer’. While the world sits back to enjoy their Sunday, the sea trade carries on – no holidays, no rest! While it is a rather common job pursued by quite a few nowadays, the world is yet to acknowledge the extent to which each and every seafarer is entwined within their regular lives.
This year, the IMO has themed the day as ‘Seafarers Matter’ and for good reason that one might be able to grasp better as this article progresses. Established in 2010 by a Diplomatic Conference in Manila, the Seafarer’s Day aims to recognise the contribution of seafarers to the economy, trade and regular civil life. While the day is marked by social events, free Wi-Fi at ports (much needed; maybe should be an everyday thing), and open days at seafarer centres across the world, it is way more important for any person to actually understand as to why seafarers matter.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons seafarers matter to the world.
1. The World Trade and Globalisation Depend on Seafarers
Shipping is an industry that contributes over 90% to the world economy. There are about 51400 merchant ships plying all over the world, transferring goods between places, keeping the economy running. Whether it is oil from the Gulf or wheat from the Cargill Grain Dock in Houston or iPhones in containers being delivered from one part of the world to another – everything is running round the clock, with precision and diligence.
Who are the people responsible for this non-stop action? While the shipbrokers and the charterers and the owners take care of the financial aspects backing the viability of the trade, the seafarers are the ones executing it in the real life aspect. The trade is only so good when the product is delivered safe and on time to the receiver, and seafarers ensure that Sundays notwithstanding! Seafarers do not understand the concept, rather cannot be allowed to understand the concept of Sundays – someone somewhere is in need of a product that must be delivered clean and on time. Nations are fuelled by gas (gallons of crude oil carried by VLOC’s and VLCC’s) and to make it clearer, the shortage of oil supply because of a stalled ship can cause chaos. This involves years of rigorous training in mastering the aspects of navigation, cargo work and ship operations and the everyday precise application of it.