An international memorial to the world's seafarers, past, present and future, has been unveiled in a spectacular ceremony at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organisation
An international memorial to the world’s seafarers, past, present and future, has been unveiled in a spectacular ceremony at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organisation.
The memorial, a seven-metre high, ten-tonne bronze representation of the bow of a cargo ship with a lone seafarer on the deck, is the work of internationally renowned sculptor Michael Sandle. Its dramatic configuration and massive scale have transformed the front of the IMO building and created a major new London landmark on the Thames riverfront.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, IMO Secretary-General William O’Neil said, “The ship has a timeless air and the figure – rugged, reliable, and dependable – embodies all the qualities that have been demanded of seafarers throughout history.”
In a special written message prepared for the ceremony, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, said, “The majority of world commerce is transported by sea, making seafarers one of the pillars of the global economy. The men and women of the industry are a dedicated group, who work hard in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions.”
Mr O’Neil was accompanied by a distinguished array of speakers at the ceremony. The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr John Prescott, himself a former seafarer, was joined by Mr David Cockroft, General-Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, representing seafarers, Mr Chris Horrocks, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Shipping Federation, representing shipowners, and the Reverend Canon Bill Christianson, Secretary-General of the Mission to Seafarers.
The genesis of the memorial can be traced to 1998, when IMO Secretary-General William O’Neil proposed to the IMO Council that a trust fund be established dedicated to the training and education of seafarers. It was also proposed that the fund should finance the creation of a sculpture that would be a lasting memorial to seafarers throughout the world. Several internationally renowned artists were asked to put forward their interpretations of the brief and Michael Sandle’s design was chosen by a steering committee from a short-list of three.