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The force of habit and the culture of maritime safety

The force of habit and the culture of maritime safety

Tighter regulations and increased training requirements will not lead to a culture of safety. The MV Rena (2011), Costa Concordia (2012) and SS El Faro (2015) incidents offer the best proof. Sadly, the list of 21st-century maritime disasters is far from finished.

On the other hand, who can deny the fact that shipboard safety is a matter of habit? All living creatures are “bundles of habit”, wrote Ameican psychologiest and philosopher William James in his 68-page treatise simply entitled ‘Habit’.

A serving of BU’s nautical limericks to pep you up

A serving of BU’s nautical limericks to pep you up

After reading the limericks of Edward Lear, the English painter and writer, I felt that I should try my hand at this popular form of humourous verse. Traditional limericks are often nonsensical and even bawdy. But why not, I thought, put in some meaning and relevance to the times? The following nautical limericks are my first attempts at the craft.

Eye-catching kimonos with sea and water motifs

Eye-catching kimonos with sea and water motifs

For centuries, the kimono has been worn by Japanese women, men and children as an everyday garment or as a formal attire for ceremonial events. In either case, it is more than a piece of clothing. It is a work of art that embodies Japanese aesthetics, the craftmanship of weavers and designers, and the Japanese love for nature. The following kimonos are striking in their incorporation of sea and other water images.

A peek at the world of fishermen through old photos

A peek at the world of fishermen through old photos

The shipping industry should stop this silly talk about seafarers being invisible. How can they be out of sight and out of mind? Seafarers love to post selfies on Facebook. And there is constant warbling from the maritime do-gooders about the rights and mental health of mariners that is louder than the song of a blue whale.

No sir, the really invisible ones are the fishermen who eke out a living from the sea. They are seldom in the media spotlight. Unsung, they face greater dangers in the course of their work than do merchant sailors. Yet, how many would spare a thought for these hardy folks?

Fish tales: 10 fantastic works of art depicting fish

Fish tales: 10 fantastic works of art depicting fish

Can the world do without fish? In 2018 humans consumed a total of 156.4 million tonnes (live weight) of fish, according to The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020 published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. The following is a tribute to God-given, life-sustaining fish from various artists and from the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.

Can the use of cadets as unpaid labour ever be right?

Can the use of cadets as unpaid labour ever be right?

Any person with some ethical sense would say that the use of cadets as unpaid office flunkeys and domestic servants is wrong. But for most folks in maritime Manila, the practice is both normal and right.

Some even insist that it is beneficial to the cadets, like the manning executive who once declared, “You have to break them in”. He sounded as though he was talking about of a new pair of shoes that need to be loosened so it can be worn comfortably by the owner. Fair enough, but why subject the cadets to indefinite periods of servitude before deploying them oversas as apprentice-officers?

Tide of emigrants and the sea: A familiar tale told in art

Tide of emigrants and the sea: A familiar tale told in art

In his 1906 book The Mirror of the Sea, Joseph Conrad likened the sea to “a savage autocrat” with a “conscienceless temper”, the “irreconcilable enemy of ships and men.” The sea, however, has not stopped the centuries-old tide of emigrants. Today, people still cross the ocean to escape political or religious persecution at home, or simply to seek a better life in a foreign land. It’s a familiar narrative that is told in the following works of art.

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