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Live from SMM Hamburg

SMM opens with a focus on four 'I's

SMM opens with a focus on four 'I's
Innovation, Identification, Internationality and Integration were named core themes of this year's SMM in an opening ceremony that included tales of a 189-day struggle across the Pacific Ocean in a rowing boat.

An audience of 500 invited members of the maritime industry were told how those themes influenced the industry in Hamburg and the wider world, ending with a reminder of the power of the sea and goodwill mariners offer to one another.

Senator Frank Horch of the free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg stated that the maritime industry was crucial to the city and brings in EUR3bn every year.

Uwe Beckmeyer, parliamentary state secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and federal government coordinator for the maritime industry, commented on the importance of the maritime sector as an innovation driver, praising its willingness to embrace high technology. "We need a clear, internationally harmonised regulatory framework to support government backing for ship financing," he said. Beckmeyer called for all stakeholders, including China, to make an effort to pursue international negotiations in a cooperative spirit so as to achieve common objectives.

"The innovation incentive programme for the shipbuilding industry will be continued," he continued. "The German Federal Government has successfully intervened on behalf of this programme in Brussels. Called "Next-Generation Maritime Technologies", the programme supports new, future-oriented maritime technologies. The Parliamentary Secretary also mentions the "National Master Plan for Maritime Technologies", a platform joining politics, science, the industry and the German state governments to form a supportive network."

The centerpiece of the opening ceremony was an emotional retelling of a 189-day rowing journey across the North Pacific from Japan to San Francisco from one of the only two men who have ever made the trip, Mick Dawson.

Dawson, along with his rowing partner Chris Martin, fought through rough seas, violent weather and desperate hunger to achieve their goal. While the cynics in the audience might consider the trip irresponsible, or even a burden on the mariners and companies that come to the rescue of row boats in distress in the middle of the Pacific, Dawson's appreciation for the attitude, spirit and support of seafarers was clear.

"What I've discovered is that ocean environment creates a very special kind of people and a bond between people that in my experience transcends international boundaries, nations, creed, race, colour and gender," said Dawson.

The rower ended his tale of failed attempts, near misses and tall waves with praise for the friendliness international maritime industry, particularly the master of the Hanjin Philadelphia, which rescued Dawson from a previous failed attempt that involved a capsized boat and shredded life raft.

"The hardest part of ocean rowing is getting to the starting line," Dawson added, encouraging the audience to enjoy the fruits of their labour and preparation during the course of the show.