Dating a seaman

‘A land-based person would have national jurisdiction,’ says Deirdre Fitzpatrick of the ITF,.‘I’m in the UK, my problem is here, and I know where to go for help.The details are still unclear, but Danny FII changed course, then capsized.

Suicide rates of seafarers are triple those of land-based occupations and carrying sea cargo is the second-most deadly job on the planet after fishing.The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represents seafarers, said recently that ‘the maritime and fishing industries continue to allow astonishing abuses of human rights of those working in the sector.Danny FII was not a new ship, but it was modern, because her crew was international: a British captain and chief engineer, 59 Pakistanis, some Filipinos, a Lebanese and a Syrian.Though she was Uruguayan, she flew another country’s flag.Forty men survived, 43 did not, including the captain, who went down with his ship.

And so Danny FII was added to the 36 other ships that sank that year and the 43 men were added to the estimated 2,000 or so who lose their lives annually. Consider the reaction if 37 airliners crashed every year, or 37 trains, and if it happened every year, regular as a shipping schedule.In 1910, the journalist FR Bullen wrote that we regarded this ‘indispensable bridging of the ocean’ as ‘no more needing our thoughtful attention than the recurrence of the seasons or the incidence of day and night’. The man who goes to sea, wrote Marco Polo, is a man in despair.This is still true, but today’s man of the sea is also probably poor, probably exploited, and living a life that contains, at the least, chronic fatigue and overwork; boredom, pirates and danger.Only last year a young South African cadet named Akhona Geveza was found floating in the sea, an hour after reporting that she had been raped by a senior officer.An investigation by South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper interviewed other cadets and found two made pregnant by senior officers; two male cadets raped; and a widespread atmosphere of intimidation.Seafarers and fishers are routinely made to work in conditions that would not be acceptable in civilised society’.