Monday, August 23, 2004

A Wild and Lawless Place

I think I understand now how two large ships can sink every week without us ever hearing anything about it. I found these book reviews, and if you scroll down to the second one you'll find this:

the watery seven tenths of the globe are littered with some 143,000 ships: most sail under "flags of convenience," registered in such countries as the island state of Tuvalu in the Pacific; many are dangerous rustbuckets, nearly all are undermanned, with crews on third-world wages. The owners of these vessels, hidden behind multiple fronts and shell companies, are hard—and sometimes impossible—to trace. Though there now exists an International Law of the Sea (still not ratified by the US) and its enforcing body, the International Maritime Organization, the best efforts to police the sea have so far proved alarmingly ineffective.

The thing is, if nobody knows who owns a ship, and the ship sinks in international waters, who is going to write about it? And who is going to care?

The rest of the article is nightmare-inducing stuff about the potential for ship-delivered terrorism.

What a mess.

I'm very glad my brother is no longer a commercial diver. And I'm glad he's not a loquacious person. (I inherited all the loquaciousness in our family. He was left with a few grunts to communicate with.) The little he's told me about his work is frightening enough without adding what I've learned from this book review. He says he wants to go back to it later, but I think his kids will keep him safely at home. He loves them too much to miss out on any of their growing up. By the time he's ready to go away for the months at a time required, he'll be either too old or too long out of the game.

I hope.