The ITFST has announced the winners of the Still At Sea photography competition, which invited seafarers to submit digital photos of their lives at sea during the pandemic. The competition received an incredible response; with almost 3,000 photographs submitted. The photos showed the huge variety of experiences of seafarers at sea during the pandemic, from personal portraits and day to day life, to extreme weather and deserted cruise ships.

The first prize of £1000 was won by Ike S. Dagandanan for his photo “Hero At Sea”. At a glance this striking image looks like an old master painting but closer inspection reveals crew members wrestling to secure cargo in wildly stormy seas. It was singled out by judges as showing the reality of the dangers seafarers face, the dramatic elemental weather and the sheer scale of the ship and seas around the seafarers struggling to contain the cargo after 40 days at sea in total lockdown. With stoic understatement, Mr Dagandanan wrote “Enroute from China to Argentina, 40 days at sea, [we] experienced bad weather and caused some of our stanchion posts to collapse, we did our best seamanship to protect our cargo, ship and environment”.

A total contrast, the second prize was awarded to Jay Michael A. Ebueza for his photo “Secretly Quiet”. Mr Ebueza’s description commented simply “Amidst pandemic, beauty exists”. Judges were impressed with the beauty and composition of the arctic coastal landscape as seen from the bridge of a ship, as well as its message of hope and demonstration of the resilience of seafarers who can see the beauty of the natural world despite the impact of the pandemic.

The Still at Sea competition was conceived to connect with seafarers who have had to stay at sea well beyond their contracts and, arguably, in contravention of their human rights as governments around the world have failed to cooperate to facilitate crew changes. Third prize was awarded to Carlo Deuxson Santiago for his image “No sign off? No problem” of a seafarer “flying away” on a broomstick. Many entries to the competition showed a great sense of humour, imagination and fun with this image encapsulating the creative response of seafarer to a seriously frustrating situation.

In addition, judges recognised three further photographs as highly commended. Ceo Angelo D. Fajardo’s image of a seafarer cadet, “Back to Work”; John Rufo M. Bontilao’s “Shower Party” depicting seafarers cleaning out a cathedral-like ship’s hold; and Mayvine Cloma’s “A Brave Woman that can make a difference” portrait of a seafarer.

President of World Maritime University, Dr Cleopatra Doumbiah-Henry said “In judging the competition, it was impossible to ignore the impact that the pandemic has had on seafarers, however the beauty and humour that seafarers often chose to highlight in their photos is a testament to the resilience of those who work aboard ship.”

Another judge, Jenn-Hui Tan, Head of Global Stewardship at Fidelity International, used his vote to poll Fidelity’s global workforce to raise awareness within the finance sector of the critical role played by seafarers in supply chains and the pressure created by the challenges around crew change.

“The response to ‘Still at sea’ has been phenomenal” said Katie Higginbottom, Head of ITF Seafarers’ Trust “The judges had an almost impossible task in making their selection from such an array of accomplished and hugely varied photographs. We’re really pleased for the winners, but more than that we’re delighted to have amassed a unique archive that reflects the breadth of seafarers’ experience during this extraordinary time of pandemic. Together with the images we have a rich collection of stories and descriptions of how it is to be still at sea while the pandemic rolls on.”

The Seafarers’ Trust intends to use the ‘Still at sea’ archive to raise awareness of the day-to-day lives of seafarers to the world outside maritime.

Source: Hellenic Shipping