Seafarers at centre of celebrations

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 28, 2011

GOSPEL songs pierced the chilly morning as students from the Maritime College, Madang,  dressed in their uniforms took their places in anticipation of invited guest, Sir Peter Barter, to officiate at their gathering.
The gathering, the first of its kind, was to celebrate World Seafarers Day on June 25.
Sweet harmonious lyrics from the songs soothed the spirits of families of those who made themselves available each with a bundle of flowers in hand.
On either side of the tent in rigid attention, stood the males and females in blue and white clearly distinguishing their classes.
Principal Richard Coleman said the International Maritime Organisation, under the Manila June 2010 Standard Training of Certification and Watch-keeping  Convention passed unanimously that seafarers needed official recognition.
He said without seafarers world economic growth would not have been possible.
“Through trade by sea enabled by seafarers we are here today enjoying the comforts of life, things are accessible for individual consumption, infrastructure developmental growth, enabling commerce to flow and improving lives of their own families.
“These men and women are sometimes forgotten.
“They spend months out at sea and the risks and dangers facing them are sometimes far greater than those faced by others on land,” he said.
Coleman said piracy was one of the greatest dangers facing seafarers, with Papua New Guineans not having to go through terrible ordeals faced by others in countries such as Somalia in Africa.
A poem on the lives of seafarers was read to the crowd, and as men in white lined the short pier, families with flowers and leis stood at the edge throwing them into the sea.
Receiving clearance from the control tower, a flare was lit and shot upwards into the clear sky just as a passing aircraft was coming in over Binnen Harbour.