I don't normally intend to use this blog to push any sort of political angle or to whinge in any way, but I feel that it might not be a bad idea to let people know the sort of conditions that the seaman have, sometimes, to put up with.
Most of the ships that come into our Port Kembla, are in port for a very few days, often as little as twenty four hours and generally not much longer than three to four days. Their time at sea between Australia and the west coast of the US is about 30 days, to Europe 40 days and Japan about 20 days. Their contracts on the ships is usually about nine months. Its not hard to understand therefore that the seafarers are pretty keen to get ashore. However, with the desire of our political masters to tighten up on security, it is making it progressively more and more difficult for seafarers to get ashore. Captains are grumbling about the vast increase in paper work, not least being the difficulties in getting special class visas, but all this takes second place to the need for increased security. I am not against a need for security. However, what I do perceive, at a grass roots level; for example, security officers at gates and junior security officials in remote offices, is the use of "security" as an excuse to make their life easier. What some of these people need to realise is that, in Australia, more than 90% of what comes in and goes out in terms of trade is carried by ship. Many Western countries are now finding that they have next to none of their own nationals on their merchant fleets. Generally this is because wage rates are too low to attract western crews. If you add this sort of obstructionism, on the part of the security industry, it will only make the situation worse.