A few weeks ago i watched the excellent Danish film, A Hijacking (2013). It tells the story of the cargo ship MV Rozen and its hijacking by Somali pirates in the Indian ocean. It’s a thriller, with the negotiation between the owner company and the pirates for the release of both the ship and the crew. It was the nail biting back and forth of the negotiations together with the mental stress endured by the company’s negotiator and the ship’s crew that made the film so interesting. The success of the film is in making you feel and understand the enormous pressure these people were under.
Although i found the whole premise of the movie fresh i did not give much more thought to it. For example, the extent of the Somali piracy in the real world, the shipping industry in general and finally the question of why of all people the Danes would made such a movie.
As luck would have it, the next day i read a book review in the Financial Times of Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, The Invisible Industry That Brings You 90% of Everything written by the british journalist and author Rose George. Convinced by the (excellent) review i bought the book and started reading within 5 minutes. It contained answers to all the questions i should have asked after watching A Hijacking.
Let’s start with the last one:
Why would the Danes, of all people, make a movie about a cargo ship being hijacked in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates?
As Rose is writing about the shipping industry, she is aboard a container ship, Maersk Kendal, making the journey from the english port of Felixstowe and heading to Singapore. The owner of the ship is “A.P. Moeller-Maerk, Denmark’s largest company, its sales equal to 20% of Denmark’s GDP; its ships use more oil than the entire nation.”
The company, “..through its subsidiary Maersk Line – now operates the largest container shipping company in the world, with a fleet of 600 vessels. It is active in 130 countries and has 117,000 employees.”
She continues with this eye opening fact and observation:
“Its revenues in 2011 amounted to $60,2 billion, only slightly less than Microsoft’s. Microsoft provides the software that runs computers; Maersk brings us the computers. One is infamous; somehow the other is mostly invisible.”
Maersk was invisible to me too until i started reading the book, and now i see its seven point star logo whenever i look at a container either parked or carried by a truck. In fact i registered the first sighting of a Maersk container on the Nicosia-Limassol highway about ten days ago. Believe me when i say that after seeing this logo you realise that Maersk is everywhere and it’s the answer to my question above.
To be continued