Looking back over a difficult month for world affairs

Geoff Waddington (pictured left) being presented with his President's medal by Paul Homer
Geoff Waddington (pictured left) being presented with his President’s medal by Paul Homer

Rarely am I lost for words, but I have found updating this blog at this time harder to compose than usual. You know full well why this is of course, given the state of the world currently. My colleagues and I have been appalled at the situation developing in Ukraine. The invasion has dominated the marine headlines, as well as the general news, for several weeks now – and rightly so, for it is the only news in town that matters currently.

The immediate threat to shipping and crews was not apparent when the invasion began but is far clearer now. There are many in the shipping sector, including crew, who are suffering the unintended consequences and our thoughts must be with them and their families.

I read that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is calling for the establishment of a blue safe maritime corridor. I wish them well with that initiative, but sense that will also be fraught with difficulties too. We should also think about fellow IIMS members in Ukraine and the surrounding countries at this time. The immediate future looks bleak and uncertain for those who are directly affected by what is happening. We have member surveyors who once operated in the Ukrainian ports of Odesa and the now ruined Mariupol. I cannot even begin to imagine what on earth they are experiencing.

On a different but related note, I have read some concerning articles about the likely impact on the superyacht sector, which experts are predicting is in for a gloomy period. Before war broke out the superyacht sector was a vibrant and hugely successful industry employing an estimated 250,000 in Europe alone. With economic sanctions now starting to bite, this is a trying time for those companies for whom superyacht new build and refit is their source of income.

When we plan our business strategies, we always think of the risks that might blow us off course and force us to rethink. I am certain that most, if not all, (IIMS included) never thought that a two-year pandemic would be followed by an outbreak of war that could embroil us all!

At the AGM held way back in 2020, Capt Zarir Irani handed an imitation paper medal to the incoming President, Geoff Waddington, via a Zoom screen – all rather unsatisfactory, but all that could be done at that time. This was due to Covid preventing the official handing over in person from the outgoing President to the incoming one. Finally, last month, we got Paul Homer (Chairman of Standards) to meet Geoff at the IIMS office in Portchester so that he could be formally presented with the President’s medal.

Finally, we are able to offer our first post-pandemic events for yacht and small craft surveyors in the UK and we hope to move further afield soon. On Monday 16th May we present what looks like being a highly informative day for inland waterways surveyors across two marinas in south Leicestershire. And later that week, on Thursday 19th May, we have an in-person training day for MCA coding examiners. Infection rates of COVID are rising fast again in the UK, but a largely outdoor element to these events makes them feasible.

And please also make a note in your diary that the IIMS AGM 2022 will once again be held online via Zoom on Tuesday 7th June starting at 14.00. This year, it will be followed by an impromptu garden party in the grounds of the IIMS head office. If you are local, please do pop by and see us.

I recently represented IIMS by attending the funeral of Jeffrey Casciani-Wood HonFIIMS, along with other senior members and his mentee, Elliott Berry. The service, held at a crematorium in south Essex, was packed with family members, colleagues and associates all wanting to pay their last respects to a good and great man. It was a very moving event.

News has also reached me of the death of Arthur Serry, a yacht and small craft surveyor, who was an active member of the IIMS Canada Branch. Our thoughts are with his family.

Survey well.

Mike Schwarz
Chief Executive Officer

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