Suffice it to say, the layman’s understanding of the mysterious world of seafaring is restricted to watching Pirates of the Caribbean re-runs. In reality, the insurmountable odds faced by seafarers at the helm of the shipping industry the world over is often overlooked as we bask in the convenience of being spoilt for choice when it comes to retail or automotive purchases. This year, the Day of the Seafarer campaign aims to not only shed light on the importance of this profession, but also to acknowledge and reward the enormous sacrifices these individuals make in order to provide an indispensable service to the public.
Why is Day of the Seafarer Important?
Themed “At Sea for All,” the Day of the Seafarer’s festivities aim to celebrate the world of shipping and seafaring, and emphasizes the indispensable (yet indirect) role that these unique individuals play in our everyday life. The event serves as an eye-opener to curious observers as it also explains various sections of the international freight shipping complex—the all-but-hidden industry that undergirds the entire global economy yet somehow manages to avoid the limelight.
In the spirit of Seafarers Day, here are some fascinating facts about the global shipping industry and its unsung heroes:Right now, there are at least 20 million containers crossing the world, serving 7 billion people worldwide.
- Right now, there are at least 20 million containers crossing the world, serving 7 billion people worldwideTwo-thirds of ship crews have no means of communication off the ship. Only 12% have freely available Internet.
- In 2010, Somali pirates held 544 seafarers hostage. Every year, 2,000 seafarers die at sea, with more than two ships lost each day. In 2012, the attack rates on seafarers exceeded the rate of violent assaults in South Africa, the country with the highest crime rate in the world.
- Females make up only 2% of seafarers. Filipinos make up more than one third of all crews worldwide, with 250,000 at sea.
- The biggest container ships can hold 745 million bananas in 15,000 containers. That’s one for every European and North American.
- In 2009, the largest 15 ships emitted as much greenhouse gases as 760 million cars—or about two cars for every American.
- Worldwide, between 2% to 10% of containers are physically inspected. U.S. ports typically inspect 5% of the 17 million containers they receive a year.
- Shipping costs have had a marked drop in value. At the moment, shipping is so cheap that, rather than fillet its own fish, it is cheaper for Scotland to send its cod 10,000 miles over to China to be filleted and returned to Scotland.
- The 360 commercial U.S. ports took in international goods worth $1.73 trillion in 2011. The U.S. relies on shipping to bring in two-thirds of its oil supply.
As we participate in this year’s much anticipated Day of the Seafarer, let us keep the importance of this largely hidden sector of the shipping world at the forefront of our minds.