Patrice Terraz, Sète, France, Mars 2001

“Welcome On Board”

By Patrice Terraz

From 23 January, 2015
To 15 February, 2015

“They come from distant countries. They are sailors who navigate all the seas of the world. Every year hundreds of them are abandoned by rogue ship owners. Sea transport is in a chaotic organized opacity aggravated by ships sailing under flags of convenience. I met with these sailors who fell from grace with the sea, stuck on immobile ships, without money or food, and for whom time stands still. The reportage started in 2001, with Yves Reynaud, an ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) inspector in Marseille, a London-based consortium of trade unions that protects the rights of sailors against operators of flags of convenience. I was able to meet with these crews who are in dire situations: they have been underpaid or not even paid for months, and their only fault was to have boarded doomed merchant ships such as the Fenix, the Atalanti or the Zaccar. The most striking example is that of the Florenz, a Panamanian cargo ship abandoned in the port of Sète in January 2001. The crew, composed of Greek, Croatian, Georgian, Cameroonian, Ghanaian sailors, had to wait one year and three months until the ship was auctioned and money was obtained to pay their salaries. In 2005, I went to Dakar and got on board the Marine One. In January 2010, I went to Istanbul for Le Monde Magazine to work on the subject again as hundreds of ships with undecided fates were anchored on both shores of the Bosphorus. The general downturn of the world economy has had an immediate impact on maritime traffic; at the end of the line, exhausted sailors, in a process of homelessness, are abandoned to their fate, drifting between boredom and isolation on ageless ships, such as the Nemesis, a derelict cargo ship, under the flag of Sierra Leone, anchored some cable’s lengths from the coast. In September 2010, the ITF sent me to the port of Algeciras to report on the sailors of the Eastern Planet. In January 2011, I went back to Sète where the Rio Tagus, an old ship dating back to 1979, was immobilized in the port due to a technical breakdown. She was no longer fit to navigate and the salaries of the Ghanaian sailors had not been paid for a very long time. Repatriating the crew was the only solution left, but this is the nightmare of any sailor who left his family months ago and has to return home with no money in his pocket”.

Patrice Terraz


Institut Français de Beyrouth
Espace des Lettres, Damascus Road


From 23 January, 2015
To 15 February, 2015

11:00am - 7:00pm

Open on Saturdays from 10 am till 12 pm. Closed on Sundays.