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10 standout maritime websites that are worth a click

10 standout maritime websites that are worth a click

In this day and age, maintaining a website seems imperative for most businesses. But it’s not just a question of having one as some people might think. The following are 10 maritime websites that stand out because of their design and, more importantly, the way their content is organised and presented for the benefit of site visitors. They call to mind the words of Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs, as quoted in an article in The New York Times: ”It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Criteria for selection

In choosing the websites to include in this article, I took into acccount the following:

  • Aesthetic appeal of homepage
  • General design and layout (including choice of fonts)
  • Mindful use of photos and other images
  • Content and the way it is organised
  • User-friendliness and ease of navigation
  • Website security (e.g., use of the https protocol)

In no particular order:

Australian Maritime College

National institute for maritime education, training and research at the University of Tasmania

PSA International (PSA)

Global port operator with flagship operations in Singapore and Antwerp

UK Chamber of Shipping

Trade association and voice of the UK shipping industry

Maritime news portal of Singapore-based Asia Shipping Media Pte Ltd


Italian manufacturer of marine cranes based in Minerbio, city of Bologna

Also in Marine Café Blog:


Seven of shipping’s catchiest slogans

Neptune Lines

Vehicle logistics provider for manufacturers and shippers of cars and high & heavy cargoes

Dream Cruises

Cruise line owned by Genting Hong Kong Limited, a holding company that operates cruise and resort businesses.

Ocean Technologies Group

Global learning and operational technology company comprised of Coex AS, Marlins, MTS, Seagull Maritime, Tero Marine and Videotel

Optical Ocean Sales

Underwater photography equipment store based in Seattle, Washington, that carries leading brands

New Bedford Whaling Museum

Museum that seeks to broaden understanding of the whaling industry and the port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, through art, history, science and culture

~ Barista Uno

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Steamships and steamboats: A lost age reclaimed in art

Steamships and steamboats: A lost age reclaimed in art

In mid-June of 1819, the SS Savannah sounded the death knell for the Age of Sail when it completed the first steam-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. True, the historic hybrid vessel relied on its sails for most of the journey. But this was the start of something big. Steamships and steamboats would eventually become ubiquitous — making passenger sea travel easier, expanding commerce and even changing the nature of naval warfare. The maritime Age of Steam would also fade away but not completely, thanks to the artists who drew inspiration from it.

The useful arts are but reproductions, or new combinations by the wit of man, of the same natural benefactors. He no longer waits for favouring gales, but, by means of steam, he realizes the fable of Aeolus‘ bag, and carries the two-and-thirty winds in the boiler of his boat.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Nature’, Chapter 2 (1836)

American S.S. Savannah, before 1925
Engraving by unnamed artist
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence

Tramp Steamer, 1908
Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

Foggy Morning on the Thames, c. 1875
James Hamilton (American, 1819–1878)
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum

Steadily forging ahead to the beat of her paddles or the thrash of her screw, the steamer even of that day was far more dependable than the sailing vessel. The Lightning clipper might run a hundred miles farther in twenty-four hours than ever a steamer had done, but she could not maintain this meteoric burst of speed. Upon the heaving surface of the Western Ocean there was enacted over again the fable of the hare and the tortoise.

— Robert D Paine, ‘The Old Merchant Marine: A Chronicle of American Ships and Sailors’ (1920)

U.S.M. steam ship Baltic, Collins Line. Builders: hull by Brown & Bell N.Y.; engines by Allaire Works N.Y., c. 1852
N. Currier, lithographers and publishers
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Steamship Advance, The U.S. and Brazil Mail Steamship Company,
from the Ocean and River Steamers series (N83) for Duke brand cigarettes, 1887
W. Duke, Sons & Co. (New York and Durham, N.C.), publishers
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

On the Steamer Bremen, off Nova Scotia, 1880
William Henry Holmes (American, 1846–1933)
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Since the invention of steamships, distant countries have become like those that are near at hand. By means of steam one can go from California to Japan in eighteen days. Commerce has become very extensive since the invention of steam, and the countries of the West have in consequence become rich. The nations of the West hope that by means of steam communication all the world will become as one family.

~ Townsend Harris, US ambassador to Japan (in a December 1857 interview)

Steamboats in the Port of Rouen, 1896
Camille Pissarro (French, 1830–1903)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Steam Launch, Chelsea Embankment, 1888–89
Theodore Roussel (English, 1847–1926)
Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

“America”: A Steamship in Transit, 1861
Utagawa Yoshikazu (Japanese, active ca. 1850–70)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A Moored Steamer at a Busy Quay, 1890
Andreas Achenbach (German, 1815–1910)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

To appreciate the importance of steamships and steamboats, one needs to keep in mind that they were part of a technological revolution that started before the industrial age kicked off in the
late 18th century. Find out more in ‘History of steam power – The steam engine timeline’ .

~ Barista Uno

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A litany of sins against seafarers, on land and at sea

A litany of sins against seafarers, on land and at sea

There is never a dearth of news reports about seafarers being cheated, taken advantage of, oppressed and otherwise maltreated. The whole thing goes on and on, in spite of the many bleeding hearts in shipping. The following is a list of the myriad ways in which the rights of mariners are violated, both on land and at sea. Ironically, some are being overlooked or ignored by the maritime press and by those who profess love and compassion for seafarers.

On  shore

Imposition of unnecessary or redundant training courses

Substandard training instruction and facilities

Selling of training certificates

Bureaucratic red tape

Corruption in maritime regulatory agencies

Illegal exaction of fees by crewing agencies

Demanding gifts from returning seafarers

Use of cadets as unpaid office workers and domestic servants

Stonewalling on the release of death and disability benefits

Favouritism in the hiring of crews

Blacklisting of seafarers who report abuses to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)

Short-changing on seafarers’ dollar remittances

Undue delays in the release of family allotments

Ambulance chasing by lawyers

Excessive lawyer’s cut in seafarer money claims awarded

Unethical practices by profit-minded doctors and medical clinics

Practice by some unions of collecting membership fees from seafarers without giving them tangible services and benefits in return

Unions playing footsie with manning agents to the detriment of seafarers

Empty slogans and speeches in praise of seafarers

At sea

Failure to repatriate in time seafarers who are stranded amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Inadequate food and poor accommodation on board

Non-observance of mandated rest hours

Overburdening ship officers with paper work

Usurpation of ship master’s duties and powers by shore managers

Late payment or non-payment of wages

Non-payment of overtime/holiday pay


Mistreatment of Third World crew members by foreign masters and senior officers

Manning of ships below the required minimum levels

Operation of unseaworthy vessels

Lack of safety appliances

Abandonment of crews by shipowners

Sexism and sexual harassment

Denial of shore leave

~ Barista Uno

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What’s wrong with the campaigns vs. depression at sea?

What’s wrong with the campaigns vs. depression at sea?

After several posts about the subject, I thought I would not have to write again about depression at sea. But some maritime charities continue to beat the war drums. They try to paint depression as a scourge on today’s seafarers, something that has to be defeated like ISIL or Al-Qaeda. Promoting mental health amongst those who work at sea is commendable. So what’s wrong with these well-meaning efforts to combat seafarer depression?

The term ‘depression’ is not clearly defined.

There is a tendency to lump depression together with other emotional states such as loneliness and anxiety. At best, this could be misleading. At worst, it could be dangerous as seafarers might underestimate the severity of their mental condition. Certain cases of depression, as I pointed out in a May 2019 article, require psychotherapy or psychotropic medication.

The extent of depression at sea has not been reliably established.

To underscore the problem, maritime charities provide anedotal evidence from their own members or from seafarers themselves. They may cite some poll or study that covered a limited number of respondents. Is this enough? The usual estimate is that there are some 1.6 million seafarers serving on the world merchant fleet. Can the maritime do-gooders say how many, more or less, are suffering from depression?

The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding.


~ Albert Camus, ‘The Plague’ (1947)


Calls to address the problem are attended by the promotion of  ‘wellness’ training for seafarers.

Training has its place in promoting mental health in the workplace. A report in the British medical journal The Lancet summarised the results of a cluster randomised controlled trial of manager mental health training within a large Australian fire and rescue service. It stated: “In this study, we have shown, for the first time to our knowledge, that a modest investment in mental health training for workplace managers might have measurable benefits.

The key phrase is “workplace managers”. For some maritime charities to propose mental health training for seafarers in general is a case of overzealousness. Can’t they see that seafarers, especially the officers, are suffering from training overload?

The campaigns are self-serving.

It is easy to understand why the maritime do-gooders are harping on seafarer mental health with such passion. They need to highlight their work and encourage donors to give more. There’s also money to be made from mental health training programmes. If and when the COVID-19 pandemic blows over, we can count on the charities to find another cause to drum up. Like other players on the maritime stage, they, too, have to make a living.

This is not to devalue maritime charity. In an exploitative shipping world, heaven knows that we need more empathy and compassion towards the men and women who toil at sea. By all means, let us help them gain better mental and emotional health. But let us not for a moment forget that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

~ Barista Uno

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The irony of time revealed in maritime photos

The irony of time revealed in maritime photos

Time, it is often said, changes everything. This is not exactly true. As the following pairs of maritime photographs show, some things change dramatically after the lapse of many years and others, little or not at all. The American-British poet T.S. Eliot was right. “Time the destroyer is time the preserver.” he wrote in The Dry Salvages, the third poem of his famous Four Quartets.

(Click on the images to enlarge them)

Boston Light, Massachusetts

c. 1906

Photo credit: Detroit Publishing Co. / Library of Congress, USA


Photo credit: MBTafan2011 / Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence

Whitby, Yorkshire, England

c. 1890

Photo credit: Detroit Publishing Co. / Library of Congress, USA


Photo credit: PJ Marriott / Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence

Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia


Photo credit: Charles Percy Pickering / Australian National Maritime Museum on the Commons


Photo credit: WEAZ 73 on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) licence

New York Harbor ferries


Photo credit: William England / Wikimedia Commons


Photo credit: Pavel Kuritsyn / Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence

Port of Hong Kong cargo handling


Photo credit: De Cou / Library of Congress, USA


Photo credit: pete on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence

USS Constitution frigate


Photo credit: National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress, USA


Photo credit: Dave Kaylor / U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons

Shipwrecks (what else is new?)


Wreck of the Hereward, Maroubra Beach, Australia
Photo credit: William F Hall and William J Hall / Australian National Maritime Museum


Grounding of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Tuscany, Italy
Photo credit: Paolo De Falco / Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) licence

~ Barista Uno

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