The Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC) in cooperation with the Cyprus Marine Environment Protection Association (CYMEPA) have developed a voluntary Adopt a Ship Programme. The Programme has a dual purpose; firstly to encourage youngsters to follow a career in shipping and secondly to promote shipping as the most safe, economic and environmentally friendly mode of transport.

The Shipping industry suffers from a very negative public image. The general public knows very little about shipping. They do not normally see ships on a daily basis, as most ports these days are no longer in the city areas as was the case in the past. And when they do see ships it is in the media due to a casualty, pollution, grounding etc.

Whilst the Adopt-a-Ship Programme will not necessarily change the general public’s opinion of shipping, it will at least help the children that participate in the scheme to have a better understanding of what a ship does, where it goes, cargoes it carries etc.

The programme runs for the entire school year and usually requires a weekly email exchange between the school and the ship it is assigned to. The school children will have a wall maritime map in their classroom showing where the ship is, having the latest email posted, details of ports called, cargoes carried etc. The more effort the vessel puts in, the greater the benefit to the children. In addition to a weekly message, the ship could send photos, old charts, stories of what the crew does onboard. Basically there is no limit to what could be sent considering the age of the children which is typically around 10-12 years old.

Shipping companies have featured articles about the Adopt-a-Ship Programme in past issues of the Newsletters and have hosted events for the teachers and schoolchildren within their offices. The companies already know, by first hand contact, just how much the Programme is appreciated amongst the children.

On the 18th April 2013 an information event was organised at Interorient Navigation Co. Ltd. The event included the projection of two short fils, one about the marine environment and the measures children can take to protect it. The second film showed the importance of shipping in our daily lives. The children were given a detailed explanation of the parts of a ship by use of a scale model and they followed the routes of ships on a large TV screen. As hort quiz intrigued their interest further and finally they were given a bag of goodies to take home.

The children brought their own paintings, woodcarvings and models of ships that were presented to CYMEPA and CSC. These will be displayed at the forthcoming CSC Annual General Meeting on the 26th April 2013.

Furthermore, Columbia Shipmanagement are planning to invite the teachers involved in the Programme to their offices later on this spring. One of the company’s Captains will give a presentation about the life at sea and a guided tour of the various departments will follow.

This year 42 ships have been adopted by an equal number of primary school classes. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all Captains and crew as well as the various Shipping Companies taking part for their contribution to the success of the Programme.

By Michalis Ierides