You are here

Romanian Seafarers Again Face Uncertainty

Romanian Seafarers Again Face Uncertainty

This is a historic year for Romania as it observes 100 years of the Great Union. Concerts, events, exhibitions and parades have been planned, and boats representing different regions of Romania will showcase its history and culture in various European capitals. But the pomp and pageantry of the Union Centenary may eclipse a smaller though equally important landmark – Romania’s seafarers celebrate 25 years of sailing on the borderless seas since the fall of communism. As anniversaries go, this one is tinged with a touch of skepticism.

25 years ago thousands of Romania’s seafarers suddenly found themselves unemployed, laid off or abandoned at foreign ports without so much as the return fare in their pocket. Many of their vessels had been arrested in foreign ports because of debt. Some ships were auctioned off hurriedly; others were sold cheaply or sent to scrap yards. In just seven years, the fleet dwindled to less than a seventh of its size. This led to an exodus of seafarers, from permanent jobs to one-voyage contracts with foreign carriers.