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Kugs das blog

Life on the inside... the making of a maritime journalist

 Law, law, food 

Thursday 20th July

I visited Norton Rose Fulbright to spend the day with Lloyd's List Tom Leander internship sponsor Harry Theochari. I was given a brief introduction to what the transport division of the firm does and how that has changed since the 2008 financial crisis.

I left with a better understanding of maritime law, a folder of papers on shipping finance including a large document on the types of vessels, and three volumes of books edited by Harry.

Ship registration is the documentation of vessels and an important part of international law. I learnt that not all ship registers handle the same type of vessels and to fly the flag of a nation, means the laws of that nation applies. The top register is currently Panama, complying with the regulation imposed by bodies such as the International Maritime Organization.

Following the fanciest lunch I’ve ever had in my life, prepared by the in-house chef, I visited the Royal Courts of Justice. I got to walk around the building and see the different rooms and sit in on a case at the Rolls Building. The day ended back at the office to learn more about what Norton Rose Fulbright is doing to encourage diversity within the organisation.

Selfie time: Left to right, Harry Theochari, Selina Purewal, Me, Amy Luck 


Communications at sea  

Wednesday 12th July

This week I visited Inmarsat, a satellite telecommunications company, where we talked about the importance of communication at sea and cyber security.

The day began with several meetings and it was interesting seeing the marketing side to the industry and the creativeness that goes with it.

My favourite part was the simulation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System or GMDSS. I got to steer a vessel (a simulated one, not a real one) which was going to call at Portsmouth but then had to respond to a distress call and rescue people on a lifeboat. As I made my way to the lifeboat without hitting any of the cargo at sea, tragedy struck in the form of a storm. After throwing a rope to lifeboat I had to turn the vessel around. It was a simulation but I feel less nervous about making a turn in the road than having to steer the vessel slowly so as not to lose the lifeboat and the people in the stormy conditions. All was going well despite the storm and the lifeboat was still attached and I could make out the port of Portsmouth in the distance and then… engine failure and I had to send out a distress call.

I’m a little disheartened that the simulation didn’t let me make it to port but I think the point of the exercise was to show the importance of safety and the benefits of communications, and also what a great driver I am (not in real life though).  

Cyber security and the GDPR

I talked to the senior vice president of safety and security services at Inmarsat, Peter Broadhurst about cyber security and the Petya attack on Maersk.

The real problem with cyber-attacks like Petya is the breach itself. He said that companies must understand the risks associated with cyber threats. A wider discussion needs to be had about the issues associated with technology, so that the industry can take appropriate steps to mitigate the risks.

Under the GDPR, breach notification will become mandatory in all member states and must be done within 72 hours of first having become aware of the breach. This could mean Maersk will have to provide details of the attack and the steps it has taken.

Connectivity at sea

I talked with senior vice president, market strategy for Inmarsat Maritime, Drew Brandy about access to internet at sea based on Nautilus International’s ‘An investigation into connectivity at sea’.

“Access to the internet is a basic human right in this day and age,” said Mr Brandy. The Maritime Labour Convention recommends that seafarers should have reasonable access to telephone communications, email and internet facilities at a reasonable cost. This is often not the case. While most ship operators do provide some form of access, there are several restrictions in place, including high costs for usage.

Many companies state cost as a reason for not providing sufficient internet access or providing it at a high cost, especially considering the state of the market and the need to cut costs in order to make profits. According to the paper the cost of improving connectivity to at least basic vessel connectivity accounts for only 0.3% of the total cost of operating a vessel.

Beyond costs, fears of crew being distracted and anti-social behaviour exists. But perhaps a more crucial and acceptable reason are concerns of how the Internet is being used. Training and policies around Internet usage are required to alleviate this concern.

Mr Brandy says young people want to be connected and if the industry is to encourage young seafarers to enter the industry, the internet is a must.

Mr Brandy expects that in the next five years more than 50% of seafarers will be connected at sea. This is a significant change and one that the industry should welcome. 



 Friday 7th July

Discovering the shipping industry

The UK Chamber’s Introduction to Shipping course provided an understanding of UK shipping and the regulatory environment.

The course covered international regulation, crewing and employment, ports and their customers, the Merchant Navy, running a shipping business in the UK and much more.

A key focus on regulation confirmed how heavily regulated the shipping industry is. There are many different bodies that prescribe regulations, especially concerning safety and the environment.

For me, this course not only provided much-needed knowledge on shipping but was also a way to network with people who come from different parts of the industry whether from insurance or government, and to understand their relevance and interests in shipping.


Tim Reardon, UK Chamber Policy Director - Ferry and Cruise


Shipping in the media

In my first blog entry, I talked about how non-mainstream shipping is and that it’s only huge in mainstream media when something goes wrong.

The shipping industry operates macroeconomically. It connects trade and people and many sectors, and in that way, it is not necessarily niche. But yet it isn’t something the average person would think about. We don’t see ships the same way we see planes or cars.

Exports and imports play a huge role in the UK economy and contribute to jobs, and an increased choice in goods and services. This business is driven by the shipping industry. But is this a news story the same way an oil spill or large merger is or even innovation like autonomous ships? Probably not.



The trickle-down effect 

Week beginning Monday 3rd July 

This week is the 71st Marine Environment Protection Committee at International Maritime Organization HQ on London’s Southbank. With the ballast water treatment system implementation and reduction of emissions by ships at the top of the agenda, the shipping world awaits any big decisions.

Attending this and visiting the International Maritime Organization has been an enlightening experience on how consensus decisions are made.

The scope the IMO works on means there is a lot of procedural talk on top of the issues at hand. Compromise between the 171 member states is no easy task, perhaps even more so when economics, the ability of countries to meet targets and different methods to achieve tasks is considered.

What plays out in large halls with people sitting at desks with submission papers has such a crucial impact on the industry. The decisions made on shipping will also undoubtedly play a huge role for the average consumer.

With shipping accounting for some 95% of all goods that are traded, the economic effects environmental measures such as the ballast water treatment system or sulphur cap have on ships, will impact on trade. This will likely have a trickle-down effect on consumers and perhaps a shift in the delivery of goods.

And yet the average consumer would have no idea that MEPC, or the IMO, even exists.

I wonder what needs to happen to make that change?


 MEPC71 is underway this week 



The sea road to diversity

Friday 30th June

This week I have learned that just 2% of seafarers are women, with most of them employed in the cruise sector. I personally find this a shocking statistic and wanted to find out why this is and what it means for female seafarers and the future of global maritime.   

I spoke to Dr Kate Pike of Southampton Solent University who led the Gender, Empowerment and Multicultural Crews project, focusing on merchant navy crew ships. The project looks at gender issues on board, in context of a multicultural crew environment. The research and data findings seek to develop tools to empower and support women in the industry.

The study questioned seafarers from China, Nigeria and the UK.

In China, 17% said they had heard concerns about working on a multicultural crewed vessel. Participants were both male and female.

In Nigeria, discrimination was highlighted as a key issue facing female seafarers. It was thought that some ‘may be discriminated against by some gender biased crew members’.

In the UK, cadets were asked before their sea time, ‘What is the biggest issue you think females might face whilst on-board?’

Out of the 52 responses from UK cadets, 19% responded with sexual harassment, 12% mentioned sexism, and 8% mentioned loneliness, isolation and segregation.

Following their sea time, sexual harassment had become a reality and was mentioned by 16%, sexism by 9% and sexism discrimination at 6%.

The structural issues behind such a low representation of women in the industry is partly tradition but also the lack of awareness of the careers for women in the industry and women not being pushed at an early age towards science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Shipping is not typically promoted as an option to young people at school fairs, Dr Pike says. In most cases, it isn’t promoted until university level and by then it’s too late, as young people generally have a direction in mind by then.  

Hopefully this is starting to slowly change. For example, the Careers at Sea Ambassadors campaign, has over 310 volunteers who visit schools and careers fairs to provide information about careers in the Merchant Navy. The IMO has a Maritime Ambassador Scheme in place who can advocate for the maritime and seafaring professions in various ways such visiting local schools.  

It is hoped that by encouraging young people to join the industry through outreach programmes, apprenticeships and advertising that more women will be emboldened to join. It is possible that future generations that expect greater equality will not face as much bias, be that gender or otherwise.

In the meantime, Dr Pike says that shipping companies must have a strategy to effectively deal with discrimination of any sort.

About 80% of crews are multinational says Dr Pike. Discrimination within multicultural crews may occur due to cultural differences or communication problems. The crew mix may be one way to prevent this. Some companies only employ those nationalities they know get along with one another. Although, this to me seems to be a case of avoiding the issue at hand rather than changing opinions and preventing instances of discrimination in the first instance.

Mentoring is a cost-effective way to support both men and women who are perhaps vulnerable due to being minorities and may fear reporting any issues due to the hierarchical nature on board. Having a mentor means the individual knows that they have a listening ear.

Additionally, the Warsash Maritime Academy, where possible, tries to ensure two cadets go to sea together so they’re not on their own and have companionship.

Dr Pike reports that it is often the case that women who wish to have children leave seafaring and transition to shore, as they do not want to spend months at a time away. Or they do not have children. However, in the Philippines grandparents may look after children so women can go out to sea. Companies need to consider family life for all crew but particularly for women who may wish to have children.

Ship operators and managers should also consider the physical and medical needs of crew. The recent Women Seafarers’ Health and Welfare Survey of 595 female seafarers found that 47% reported joint/back pain and stress/depression/anxiety as the two biggest health challenges.

The biggest issue preventing female seafarers accessing healthcare while at sea was lack of confidentiality and over half responded that they would welcome routine wellness checks on board.

The survey was a joint initiative of the International Maritime Health Association, International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network. It also was conducted by the International Transport Workers’ Federation and Seafarers Hospital Society.

Training for senior officers is vital to deal efficiently with reports of discrimination or harassment. Many have not had women on board their ships before and it is shocking for them to deal with these issues when they arise. Appropriate training means that any reports will be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Dr Pike says the industry is slowly changing, but that there is still a long way to go to reach United Nations recommendations of a 50-50 split in gender representation onboard.

“We know from research, that the industry is much more receptive than they ever have been to the cultural change when it comes to gender on board and that’s very promising and positive.”

If measures were taken to create an environment for women to take up seafaring careers and not be pushed onshore or out altogether, significant change can occur.

Could operating with an all-female crew be the answer? Can an all-female crew take the industry by storm and lead it to a promised land of equality? 


The world of data protection

Wednesday 26th June

Attending Moore Stephens Maritime London Networking Event enlightened me to the world of data protection.

The event included a presentation by, Moore Stephens Associate Director, Christopher Beveridge discussing the EU General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. 

As someone who at least briefly looks over terms and conditions and doesn’t completely ignore them and is on a lot of social media, I’m aware how important data protection is. There are so many companies out there holding my personal information, it’s almost shocking how little time I spent worrying about how that information is being used.

Although an administrative pain, the GDPR aims to give back citizens control of their personal data, power to the people like true democracy. But getting shipping in shape for this is a serious task.

From dealing with data portability requests to undertaking privacy impact assessments on any new systems, the shipping industry need to review and establish data privacy within GDPR by May 2018.

Diversity in the industry

Beyond the substance of the presentation itself and the negative impacts of failure to comply, I continue to be astounded by how few women I meet in the industry. Most of the women at this event, only a few in the first instance, crowded around a table eating together discussing why is there such a lack of representation of females in the industry among other topics of course.

As an industry that is not heavily advertised to young people, telling friends I was doing a maritime journalism internship was met with “What’s maritime journalism?”, “You’ll be writing about the sea … and ships?” and “Oh, like the International Maritime Organization?” These questions would have risen regardless of my gender but it remains that there is a gap and why is something I’ll be looking into.



Out with the old and in with the new

Lloyd’s List unveiled its new website on 11th June, made possible by the efforts of the team and especially so Julian and Gary.

Having joined only 4 days prior to the launch of the new website, I have little experience with the old one, but it’s enough to comment that the new website is sleek and easy to use.

Lloydslist.com is now clean, bold and easy to navigate. Even more helpful, especially when trying to find articles on much talked about topics like safety, is the filter by system. A good filtering system makes me leap for joy. It’s that huge difference between searching through 364 floral dresses and searching through 15 green floral dresses.

It joins with Insurance Day making both services accessible through one simple website. The website as a whole is brighter, bigger and better arranged, making for easier access to identify the Latest articles, Spotlight, Hot Topics, Containers and many more.


Ping pong stars

Friday 23rd June

Lloyd’s List creative designer Divya Unadkat organised a ping pong party at Bounce, Farringdon, to celebrate the unveiling of the website.  Like a baptism but with ping pong and food and drink, which is how I would want to be welcomed into the world.

A year of table tennis club was not enough to reduce my rounders’ bat-worthy swing, and the ball hit basically everything and everyone except the table.

Imagine Wimbledon but with a table instead of a court, and with less of a crowd, but the fire to win; that was the enthusiasm of the more amateur players on the team.



Party time!

Monday 12th June

Thank you to all those that attended and for everyone who organised the event.

Based at the Norton Rose Fulbright office at 3 More London Riverside, the event was hosted and organised by those who made this internship possible.

Those in attendance knew of Tom or at the very least of his incredible work.

The evening consisted of speeches by Helen Kelly, Harry Theochari and myself (really just me saying thanks a lot); mingling (networking) and canapes and refreshments (hurrah).

Also, the view from the terrace was great, and I have some Instagram-worthy photos of the Thames and London Bridge now. And of course, the view represented the heart of the London maritime industry. 

Basically, it was a lovely welcome to the shipping world, which many have said I will now never leave. I have been reeled in (haha) too young, but as I have discovered in these last few days shipping is a non-mainstream but exciting industry.

I have never been in a room full of people so passionate about shipping (though in the course of the next three months, I’m sure it’ll often be like this), and who made it seem so exciting. I look forward to seeing them all at some point again and talking more about shipping, whether the cargo, the ships themselves, the environment or the people side of things, or really just some good ol' conversation.


 Harry Theochari Norton Rose Fulbright


Norton Rose Fulbright global head of transport Harry Theochari remembered Tom. 



The fairy godmother of shipping?

Admittedly, as someone who knew little about shipping, I was not sure what to expect from this internship. I was familiar(-ish) with what Lloyd’s List does from the late-night research I did before my interview and first day and in between, but I was still surprised at how important the information published in the articles are. It’s insane how little of this information is even considered by the general public. The whole intricacies of how the shipping is planned and tracked. So much effort and care goes into preventing potential disasters and the public only hears about the ones that do happen, rather than the tens of thousands which do not.

The first few days were marked by lots of reading (which as a Philosophy student I do enjoy, especially when it’s not very long texts, and instead lots of different topics) and acquainting myself better with the maritime industry. As well, as writing an article or two. 

I’d like to thank everyone at Lloyd’s List for welcoming me on board and helping me out. I am grateful to you all and in particular, Anastassios (who I failed to individually thank in my speech on Monday, and who really wanted to be mentioned, deservedly of course), for guiding me through like a fairy godmother. Shout out to you dude for making time for my questions and ‘inquisitiveness’ and just checking to see how I was getting along, on top of your own work.


 Inmarsat head of communications Mark Warner and Lloyd's List UK reporter Anastassios Adamopoulos

Inmarsat head of communications Mark Warner and Lloyd's List reporter Anastassios Adamopoulos. 



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