State of the Re:Union - Truckers of the High Seas

State of the Re:Union
Truckers of the High Seas

Host: Al Letson
Producer: Allison Swaim

In our globalized world, it only takes a click to buy something from China and have it delivered right to your doorstep. But that product sailed across the ocean on a cargo ship before it got to you. Over 90 percent of global trade travels across the ocean by ship. In this episode, we’ll step on board some of these ships and meet the sailors who work there. What’s it like to live for months at sea, isolated with only your co-workers? And when a ship stops in the USA, how do sailors spend the few precious hours they have on shore? Tune in to this hour with guest producer Allison Swaim to find out.

Allison Swaim sets off on a year-long journey aboard cargo ships to learn the stories of sailors who work on board. She travels to Thunder Bay, Canada to board the M/V Isa-- a ship full of Polish guys, carrying Canadian wheat to Europe. The first thing she learns about life on board? You have to get used to a lot of waiting.

Oil tanker Korsaro sets out on New Year's day to deliver a cargo of triple A jet fuel from Italy to Turkey. The voyage should take less than a week but turns into a month-long saga. Everything that could possibly go wrong goes wrong--change in buyer/destination, rough weather, cargo analysis fails. Meanwhile, phone calls and emails bounce between offices in Switzerland, Turkey, Italy, as "the office" tries to sort out the mess.

We pick up where we left off, with the crew of the tanker Korsaro, We're stuck at anchor with a load of contaminated cargo, off shore of Aliaga, Turkey. While the cargo buyer, cargo seller, and all the middle men argue about what to do next, on board we start to run out of food...

What's it like for a ship when they hit US soil? We take a trip to Port Everglades Florida to find out. We join Pastor Ron Perkins in his daily ship visits. Then we head back to the Seafarer's Mission, where seafarers visiting port stop in to buy snacks and Skype back home.

It's Mervin Espiritu's first time in the U.S. We join him and his shipmates on a shopping spree.

What's it like to be married to a sailor? We hear from wives of the NJ chapter of American Merchant Mariner Veterans about how they kept a family together

In 1997, cargo ship M/V Dubai Valour was taken hostage by local government in Nigeria because the shipowner and cargo buyer couldn't agree on an insurance settlement. Four Ukrainian crew members remained on board for over 1.5 years. Back in Ukraine, their wives, outraged, launched a letter-writing campaign. One of the letters made its way to Doug Stevenson, at the Center for Seafarer's Rights in Newark, NJ. Doug went to work to try to get the guys released.

This is the story of a US sailor from a different era. Gabe Frank worked on US merchant ships in the 1940s and 50s.

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