Saturday 25th of June was the IMO's Day of the Seafarer - a day to celebrate seafarers, the job they do and why the world would be a lesser place without them. I spent the Day of the Seafarer over, and not on, the Indian Ocean which is the reason for my late posting.
Although my days as a real seafarer are over, it forms the strongest affiliation between my person and professional self. To provide some structure to this posting, I'm going to ask readers who have been to sea and who influence the lives of seafarers to consider the following...
Seafarers live and work aboard ships in the same way you live at your home and work at your office. When you're reviewing the latest Outline Specification for a new ship, please look at the standard of the fitout, automation and equipment. And yourself whether you would live in an unlined steel cabin with a single 100V powerpoint for 10 months, or whether you could avoid a close quarters situation running accross the wheelhouse between the autopilot and ARPA. People who design ships don't sail on ships, and we have an obligation to apply our knowledge to make ships better places to live and work.
Seafarers need sleep. Seafarers cannot work for 38 hours straight because junior officers are not qualified or experienced enough to maintain a cargo watch. Give them people capable of efficiently performing their own job so that they can get the rest they need to do their job.
Seafarers need protection. Because your company decided to opt out of the tax system which pays for warships and airforces doesn't remove the risk of your seafarers becoming hostages. Give your Masters freedom to navigate around piracy zones and the resources to protect their ships and crews. Build them a citadel. Even better, given them an armed guard or three to fight back.
Seafarers need motivation and appreciation. Just because you didn't get the Statements of Facts as soon as the Pilot disemarked probably means the Captain is probably busy settling down the ship on passage. Share with the Captain and the Chief Engineer what's important on this charter, and what they need to know to make the voyage a financial success.
Seafarers are rarely criminals. They become criminals through being improperly incentivised to perform criminal acts such as make a 'majic pipe' or as a consequence of commercial pressures to act unsafely. No Captain set out to collide with a bridge pier or run aground on a coral reef. However, they are all too often arrested for the consequences of the actions and contributions of others aboard and ashore.
Seafarers in the main hard working, inventive, practical and good natured. They navigate daily around the hidden shoals in charter parties, Port State Control inspections and Superintendent's demands. Once a year we celebrate them - every day we need them.
Mozambique is positioning itself as the new frontier for metallurgical coal. The central province of Moatize is estimated to have billion of tonnes of this critical input to the steel making industry, which sells at price multiples to thermal coal.
The Antipodean Mariner did a whistlestop tour of Mozambique in May to study the rail and port infrastructure under development for the first Mozambican coal exports since the end of the post-colonial civil war.
Two key pieces of infrastructure - the Sena Rail Line and the port of Beira will export the first coal from open cast mines at Tete. The Sena Rail Line was heavily damaged during the civil war, and has been rehabilitated by its Indian concessionaires' Rites and Ircon. The port of Beira has languished in post-war obscurity, notably only for its position as the corridor for imports and exports from Zimbabwe. The port had silted up to only 6 metres of water, reducing blue water traffic to a trickle. A new coal terminal is under construction at Beira which will export up to 6M tonnes per year.
Foreign aid has funded dredging of the Pungue River channel back to 8 metres below chart datum. Berth 8 will be refurbished to load up to Supramax bulk carriers and two new tran-shipment vessels purpose built by Coeclerici for Vale's 4M tonne per year capacity.
The Zambesi River flows from Tete to the Indian Ocean and the Mocambican Government are looking at permitting barging to move coal for export.
Mozambique has a goldrush town feel about it - conspicuous wealth side-by-side with grinding poverty. Mozambique certainly felt like a country with a future.