Tuesday, September 25, 2012

World Maritime Day

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By Terry Orr
(USN Ret.)
I have always enjoyed the water – be it a small stream, river, lake, sea and of course the oceans and this was probably an influencing factor in my joining the Navy so many years ago.  Memories of sailing aboard ships are still fond for the most part and look back at those peaceful and quite times when I was able just to enjoy the view. Today as we celebrate maritime day, let us reflect on the past, keep current on today’s activities and help where we can to make the waterways peaceful for all to enjoy.
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The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organization (IMO), created World Maritime Day to celebrate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the world’s economy, especially in shipping. The event’s date varies by year and country but it is always on the last week of September.
The World Maritime Day theme for 2012 is “IMO: One hundred years after the Titanic”, which will focus on the Organization’s roots and raison d’être, i.e. safety of life at sea.

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Undoubtedly the most important legacy of the Titanic disaster was an urgent acceleration in the process of setting and implementing international standards and procedures for maritime activity. The first international conference on the safety of life at sea was held in London in January 1914. Its outcome - the Convention on Safety of Life at Sea - remains the leading international treaty on maritime safety. The task of keeping it updated, and maintaining its development in light of technological advances, falls to a United Nations agency, the International Maritime Organization.

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 The United States Coast Guard (USCG), an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of seven uniformed services. In addition to being a military branch at all times, it is unique among the armed forces in that it is also a maritime law enforcement agency (with jurisdiction both domestically and in international waters) and a federal regulatory agency. The USCG has a broad and important role in homeland security, law enforcement, search and rescue, marine environmental pollution response, and the maintenance of river, intra-coastal and offshore aids to navigation. As the lead maritime regulatory agency, the Coast Guard develops national regulations, standards and policies to enhance maritime safety, security and stewardship. In addition, the Coast Guard represents the United States at the IMO for the development and execution of international standards. The Coast Guard’s motto “Semper Paratus”, Latin for “Always Ready”, is one fitting for all of the Coast Guard’s missions.

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Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. While books and movie industries made Pirates interesting and fun – today’s Pirates at sea are anything but interesting – they are dangerous, murders and terrorist with little to no regard to human life.
According to Wikipedia, Seaborne piracy against transport vessels remains a significant issue (with estimated worldwide losses of US$13 to $16 billion per year), particularly in the waters between the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, off the Somali coast, and also in the Strait of Malacca and Singapore, which are used by over 50,000 commercial ships a year. A recent surge in piracy off the Somali coast spurred a multi-national effort led by the United States to patrol the waters near the Horn of Africa.

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References and Links:

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