Less than flattering comments about the great British seafarer were reportedly made by Stena's North Sea director Pim de Lange who has been quoted as saying that it was difficult to find UK seafarers unless you wanted chaps with fat bellies and covered in tattoos.
These words were described as "slanderous" and a "disgrace to the profession" at the conference of the Trades Union Congress.
An over-reaction perhaps? After all, one might say that such an appearance merely continues a long tradition of body art within the seafaring profession. Those of us brought up to think of mariners as akin to Popeye for whom a well-rounded bicep adorned with an inky anchor served as evidence of belonging, may even feel that a tattoo or two plus a beard are indispensible.
With all the research being done into the supply of seafarers at the moment (look out for the BIMCO / ISF Manpower Study very soon) we suspect the issue of body weight and tattoos has been overlooked in the demographic analysis. And anyhow, tattoos are pretty trendy these days!
Filipino seafarers did however get the thumbs up from Mr de Lange, according to Nautilus, so congratulations to them.
Maybe they're the ones who've been eating all the spinach!