It’s not much fun going to sea today. You probably might reflect, if you are serving aboard the Rickmers containership Maersk Tigris, that you didn’t go to sea to have shots across your bow and end up getting a hard time at an Iranian anchorage. It seems a curious way of mediating a commercial dispute over a few boxes which allegedly went adrift nearly ten years ago. One might have thought that maritime legal processes had advanced beyond the use of medium calibre weaponry.

But there again, you probably didn’t go to sea to sail down the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and be worried about what the heroic aviators of the Royal Saudi Air Force might be making of your progress, as they fly over to beat up the rebels in the Yemen. You certainly didn’t go to sea (although you may have got quite used to it by now) to peer out of your ship through coils of razor wire as you transit the Indian Ocean, or become exceedingly twitchy about some small craft approaching your vessel by night in the Malacca Strait. You may have scrutinised the beguiling messages in the recruiting material, but even the smallest print wouldn’t have warned you about the heavily armed thugs in the Gulf of Guinea and their enthusiasm for violence, robbery and hostage taking.

It is certainly no fun making a passage through the Mediterranean these days, and the likelihood that your lean-manned merchant ship will find itself vectored onto some half-wrecked migrant laden vessel, or sight a clutch of corpses in the blue waters, after some craft failed to make Lampedusa.

Perhaps what makes things worse is that there seems precious little prospect that any of these so called “emergencies” will ever be over and seafarers can go back to their main mission in maritime trade. The world seems to be going through a dangerous phase, and those on the front line at sea just have to get on with it. It’s not much of an incentive!

Author: Michael Grey     Source: