The maritime sea lane between China to Europe is considered as the ‘Golden Route’ as the trade volume between the countries keeps the route busy and thriving all around the year. However, the men possible for making it happen are not given their due credit.
Men behind the scenes
For instance, on a cargo vessel loaded with some 20,000 containers from China to Europe, engineers are working around the clock, checking on all of the machines to make sure the goods can be shipped on time.
Electrical engineer Wang Wei runs routine maintenance on the main generator which is the electric system and heart of the entire ship. Mr.Wang said, “If anything goes wrong with this generator, we’re usually not sure which part is faulty until after some time investigating. That’s a potential risk. To figure out the mistakes, we have to operate safely”.
Modern vessel needs expertise
The maritime industry is facing a technological makeover with many of the vessels getting automated and no longer require many crew members to operate the vessel manually.
But automating the technology does not make it any easier to handle. crew members need to be well equipped and knowledgeable when it comes to handling these devices which issue nearly hundreds of alerts per day.
Xu Yundong, Chief engineer on the vessel says, “On the land, there’s all kind of technical support, but on the ocean, we have to completely rely on ourselves”.
Moreover, the engineers working environment is noisy and they are exposed to high temperatures. For instance, temperature runs up to 40 degrees Celsius in the engine cabin. To prevent burning, workers need to wear gloves and thick uniforms so that they won’t get burned.
Over the past years, the vessels from Asia and Europe are getting bigger and bigger. As the trade volume increases, shipping costs are dropping lower but for sailors, their jobs are getting tougher. The workers allege that more work needs to be done but the companies are hiring only fewer people.
Request for social recognition
Mr.Wang says, “We sailors seldom receive understanding from society. This job has no advantages compared with others because we work apart from land, many people are not familiar with what we do. Fewer college graduates choose this industry”.
The engineers request the International Maritime Organisation to provide them social recognition and place more emphasis on providing necessary education to improve their skills in handling such harsh environments and high-risk situations.
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