Sometimes in the world of 24 hour news coverage we can become completely caught up in the story of the day, only to lose track of its eventual ending as we move on to the different news headlines that the next day brings.
Piracy attacks on world shipping, particularly off the Horn of Africa, are frequently reported and there is a growing awareness of the problem following the blockbuster film Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, which hit cinema screens last year. But we very rarely get to hear of the final outcome of these attacks. I was therefore astonished, and deeply moved, to read about the recent release of eleven sailors of the cargo vessel mv Albedo after almost FOUR years being held captive by Somali pirates. These sailors had been held in terrible conditions and tortured since November 2010. UN special envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay said “the crew members and their families have suffered unimaginable distress” and called for the release of other sailors currently held hostage. While concerted efforts in improving anti-piracy management practices have paid dividend in recent years, we are probably all guilty of forgetting the plight of innocent sailors who have happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of the mv Albedo crew died during their period of captivity so the human tragedy involved in these piracy situations should be reported prominently to ensure further concerted effort is taken to protect ships and their crews.
I was thinking of other shipping news of recent years which has dominated the headlines briefly but then ‘disappeared off the radar’ to some extent. It is now two and a half years since the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster which led to the loss of 32 lives, and only now are final preparations being made to tow her away from the small island of Giglio. The operation to return the Concordia to an upright position was completed in September last year so this has been a long running story, with a possible end now in sight – if a location can be found to safely scrap her.
More recently, the terrible incident involving the mv Sewol in South Korea dominated the news for a few days back in April, with the ongoing reporting of the continuing traumatic efforts by divers to locate bodies within the upturned vessel – many of them children from local schools. But we await the final outcome of investigations and legal proceedings involving the owners and crew – with allegations having emerged of overloading and the vessel making a rapid change of course.
All these stories – of piracy and terrible disasters – need to make an impact beyond the day on which they first hit the news, as the continuing safety of ships and their crews is a subject that should never be far from the front of our minds.HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR