Opinion: Pathetic Maritime, Its Reactions and Reality

Many of today’s seafarers are effectively economically press-ganged into going to sea. They are then abused and bullied into signing extensions and held on board way beyond their contractual time. Yet none of the global influencers, like BHP, Rio, Shell, and many others have taken a stand. I mean really taken a stand. They choose to not own ships and put pressure on the owners. The same tactic that is used when they pay peanuts for charters and yet expect gold star crew and service.

Coles has been an outspoken defender of seafarer rights over the course of his career…


Spot on Kennebec_Captain.

Pre COVID, walking up a gangway or ascending a Pilot ladder, I was always met by smiling Filipino faces. These young family men were stuck on these ships for anything up to 11 months 24/7. I always had a sense of guilt on departure from the vessel as I was off the ship and with my family that evening. In the meantime, shoreside management personnel we’re enjoying similar privileges as myself. I often mentally challenged them to undertake what these poor bastards did, time and time again.

COVID now- it must be hell.

I doff my cap to you Frank Coles.


He is spot on, unfortunately, this industry works hard to silence those who speak the uncomfortable truth:



I would like to see the LinkedIn representative, who is responsible for the Frank Coles shutdown, join a vessel for 11 straight months and experience all the associated deprivations.
I doubt that he/she would last a week.


Not much has changed since I was at sea a long time ago. I sailed on a Shell tanker for more then three years at one stretch with only one docking period that gave some air. I had asked several times for furlough but that was never granted. In those days there was a permanent shortage of officers and crew due to the very low salaries. Working ashore would give you a salary raise of 15-20%, also due to shortages. Not long hereafter all seafarers got a raise of 12% which improved the situation. Obviously they were pretty desperate.

At the end of that period we were bound for Rotterdam which would give an opportunity to get some leave. In those days you had to sign up for the voyage meaning that if the ship returned to Rotterdam the voyage had officially ended. They took care to avoid the ship calling on Rotterdam.

So I sent a telegram to the office for some well earned leave. The reply came quick and was short: “Leave not allowed”. I send another telegram in the same cryptic style: “Will hand over my resignation on arrival Rotterdam”. I then received an elaborate reply asking me to reconsider my “hasty” decision and that this called for a discussion at the main office. Finely they pointed out that since I was younger than 27 years old I had to serve in military service for two years.

The end of the story was that I got three months of leave. I must admit that as a bachelor I was soon fed up and bored stiff with life ashore and after two months, a bit shamefully, asked for a ship again…