It’s an old actors’ rule – never act with children and animals. Even if your performance could have made the Motion Picture Academy give you the full razzamatazz, kids and dogs (it’s usually dogs) will always somehow upstage you. Well, Maritime Films UK can offer thespians a new rule – DO act with former master mariners and seagoing officers, especially those who work for Tindall Riley marine insurers, on behalf of the Britannia shipowners P & I insurance ‘club’. We had a ship’s captain embodying his increasing agony at the inexorable loss of his ship, a hard-ass company official refusing to let him act in his ship’s best interests (and then blaming him), and a brave second officer to whom your heart went out as she kept her distress and fear under control as her ship foundered beneath her. Brilliant. Encore! Encore!
Our new film for ship insurance specialists Britannia P & I was shot at Transas, an extraordinarily sophisticated ship simulator in Hampshire – which can conjure up just about anything you want to portray calamities that can befall even the most modern of ships, on the safest of routes. And the ships themselves (picture.) In this case, a combination of essential repairs, refusal of funds for harbour charges and then tugs, to save a huge ship dragging her anchors out at sea and going aground. A ship powerless to save herself, because her engines were disabled for maintenance. The only redeeming feature of this sorry story being that no lives were lost – though the ship was. Drama by stages: first a Fawlty Towers-style non-meeting of minds, then a mounting crisis of bafflement and error, and finally – complete disaster. And disorder.
Maritime Films UK has been back in a bridge simulator for another training and instructional film for Britannia P & I, to be made with our good friends at Tindall Riley in the City. To recap: a ‘P & I’ Club is a co-operative system whereby ship owners come together to create a kitty (a big one!) to cover losses not easily or normally covered by major insurers – such as personal injury or dockside damage. So it’s in the interest of all in the Club to alert seafarers about how things can go wrong in a ship at sea – and very quickly. The training film we’re making together – based on real events – is a classic case of confusion and confounded purpose created between a ship in danger and pressures from the company office. So, the dreaded “Order… counter-order… “
Our keynote film for the 2017 Maritime Media Awards was ‘Seaguard’. It looked at the (non) preparations by government to deal with the likelihood of increasing illegal migration cross-Channel. The film (go https://www.maritimefilmsuk.tv/films/seaguard/ ) begins with a fictionalization of a mass assault on our shores by people traffickers using large RIBS – brilliantly realized by artist Caroline Misselbrook and MFUK’s video editor and producer Andy Jones. (Traffickers plan mass assaults like that to swamp coastal authorities and enable other smuggling too.) The film went on to show how few sea-going cutters were actually available to police our coasts (3, then. Italy, for example has 600, Greece 240 – even Croatia has 9 vessels available.) Now, what we imagined is happening – see headlines like the one above – and looks set to increase. Are we prepared? Don’t bet on it.
UK Border Force Maritime’s present Channel migrant challenges have met with some action, as our film ‘Seaguard’ showed (go https://www.maritimefilmsuk.tv/films/seaguard/ ) That action then consisted of the acquisition of three new vessels (see picture of one, ‘Alert’.) These large RIBS are primarily meant for close onshore work, going up estuaries, into marinas and harbours etc. Necessary and useful up to that point – but with that high top hamper and the poor seaway behaviour of RIBS (they’re on the sea, not in it), going any distance out in one wouldn’t be fun. Despite the fact that this showed some action, it was only with the greatest difficulty that we were able, at the 11th hour, to persuade the Home Office (who run UKBF) to let us see one, and speak to the head of UKBF Maritime. Don’t ask me why.
Our Maritime Media Awards film ‘Seaguard’ (https://www.maritimefilmsuk.tv/films/seaguard/ ) benefited from the hospitality of the Royal Navy, as we joined Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) HMS ‘Severn’ (picture) to see her on task (see Maritime Films UK blogs passim.) But the voyage was tinged with regret, as this was to be ‘Severn’s last patrol prior to decommissioning, after which she was to be put in reserve and/or sold, because the new ‘Batch 2’ OPV’s were on the way. In ‘Seaguard’ we asked: “… why even think about getting rid of a ship that may soon be needed more than ever?” Well, it seems MoD went into rethink mode, as almost a year to the day after our film’s release it was announced that the three Batch 1 OPV’s are to be reprieved. Of course, that decision must flow from our film! (Lol)
Rob is a TV producer, reporter and camera operator with 30 years’ experience at the BBC, Channel 4 and ITN, in news, factual and documentary production. He is a four times award winner, whose awards include a coveted Royal Television Society award for his work on Channel 4 News. His association with The Maritime Foundation goes back to 1995, when he won the first Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award for a series of reports that led to a major documentary on the loss of the bulk carrier Derbyshire.
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