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Not so Jolly Roger

27 Mar 2012

Not so Jolly Roger Image

To us, flying the Jolly Roger is a bit of fun. But playing out our “harmless” fantasies in front of the world’s seafarers who visit Docklands can result in extreme stress for these men.

The Mission to Seafarers in Flinders St is a haven for the poorly-paid and the often exploited crews of the world’s fleet of commercial shipping.  And for them, piracy is a real and ever-present danger.

Mission CEO Andrea Fleming recently wrote to the National Trust to request that it remove the skull and crossbones flag from the Polly Woodside at South Wharf.  And the photo on this page was taken at the Melbourne Summer Boat Show.

Ms Fleming admits that no offence would have been intended in the decision to fly the Jolly Roger from the Polly Woodside.  But that’s just the point, she said: “It is an image that attracts the curiosity of kids and adults alike and is high on the fashion stakes of Hollywood stars.”

“Whatever the Jolly Roger stirs in our minds, it remains today that piracy is an ongoing threat to seafarers,” Ms Fleming said. “To put an end to piracy seems almost an unattainable goal, but to provide a network of support, prayer and care worldwide, is the ongoing ministry of the mission.”

Ms Fleming said staff at the mission recently followed the progress of the crew of the German tanker Marida Marguerite who were only released in January after 250 days’ captivity.

One of the young crew was quoted in Seatrade magazine as saying: “At my age you can still bear pain ... watching people twice my age being tortured, crying and begging for help is what really tested me,” he recalled. “I felt so bad for them but I could do nothing about it, except for praying ...”

Ms Fleming said: “The experiences shared by seafarers traumatised by pirates, can reflect the fragility and might of humanity – pirates and the crew alike.”

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Comments

  • Sergey at 12:48pm on 09/04/12

    Hey Ms Fleming,
    You must really be showing your age if you think that pirate ships still sail the ocean with a skull flag. It was ~100 years ago but not now. Speedboat with men holding big guns speed towards our vessel scares us not a pirate flag.
    It makes me laugh to think you thinks that us seeing a pirate flag would make us scared, a flag doesn't scare us but people pointing machine guns do.

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