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Winner announced for ITF Seafarers' Trust 'Still at Sea' photo competition

2 November 2020

Cargo ship crew member Ike S. Dagandanan has been named the winner of the ITF Seafarers' Trust 'Still at Sea' photography competition.

The competition was launched earlier this year to connect with the 400,000 mariners stuck onboard their ships because of the pandemic crew change crisis, and to raise public awareness of their plight.

Winners were selected from more than 3,000 submissions by a panel of expert judges consisting of photographers Stefan F Lindberg and Rory Carnegie, Fidelity International's head of global stewardship Jenn-Hui Tan and World Maritime University president Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry.

'The response to Still at Sea has been phenomenal,' said Katie Higginbottom, head of the ITF Seafarers' Trust – a welfare charity of the International Transport Workers' Federation. 'The judges had an almost impossible task in making their selection from such an array of accomplished and hugely varied photographs. We’re really pleased for the winners, but more than that we’re delighted to have amassed a unique archive that reflects the breadth of seafarers' experience during this extraordinary time of pandemic. Together with the images we have a rich collection of stories and descriptions of how it is to be still at sea while the pandemic rolls on.'

Mr Dagandanan's winning photograph, 'Hero At Sea', depicts crew members wrestling to secure cargo during a storm. He described the situation like this: 'Enroute from China to Argentina, 40 days at sea, [we] experienced bad weather and caused some of our stanchion posts to collapse, we did our best seamanship to protect our cargo, ship and environment.'

The judges selected the picture not only because it is a dramatic image, but for the way it depicts of the dangers faced by seafarers and their endurance during total lockdown. Mr Dagandanan receives £1,000 for his remarkable contribution.

Amidst pandemic, beauty exists

Second prize was awarded to Jay Michael A. Ebueza for 'Secretly Quiet', which depicts a crystal-clear Arctic scene from the bridge of a ship. A complete contrast to the winning photo, Mr Ebueza described it this way: 'Amidst pandemic, beauty exists'. The judges were impressed by its message of hope and demonstration of the resilience of seafarers who can see the beauty of the natural world despite the impact of the pandemic.

Carlo Deuxson Santiago won third prize for his photograph of a seafarer apparently flying away on a broom, 'No sign off? No problem', which captured the creative and humorous response that has helped many seafarers endure the challenges of the crew change crisis.

Three more photographs were highly commended:

  • 'Back to Work' by Ceo Angelo D. Fajardo
  • 'Shower Party' by John Rufo M. Bontilao
  • 'A Brave Woman that can make a difference' by Mayvine Cloma

Dr Doumbia-Henry said: 'In judging the competition, it was impossible to ignore the impact that the pandemic has had on seafarers; however, the beauty and humour that seafarers often chose to highlight in their photos is a testament to the resilience of those who work aboard ship.'