Sunshine, blue skies and more of that September hot weather greeted shipping folk descending on the UK capital for London International Shipping Week.
Decarbonisation was high on the agenda, as is usually the case at shipping events these days.
But there was also a sense of pragmatism to the discussions — or maybe reality is finally beginning to bite with only seven years to go before shipping’s next milestone target for reducing emissions.
DNV Maritime chief executive Knut Orbeck-Nilssen told the Capital Link conference on Tuesday that he does not think shipping will realistically meet the International Maritime Organization’s targets because there is unlikely to be a sufficient supply of alternative marine fuels.
Orbeck-Nilssen’s perspective may have been sobering, but the rest of LISW23 was not. Drinks were free-flowing, although specialist insurer Beazley opted to serve afternoon tea at its event about maritime hacking.
Security was tight at the International Maritime Organization, where the LISW23 headline conference and several other events took place.
Organisers were keen to avoid a repeat of the protests seen in July, when several activists — including one dressed as a “dead mermaid” — were arrested during the last meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee.
But the week remained peaceful, without a dead mermaid in sight.
Outgoing IMO secretary general Kitack Lim was seen doing the rounds and his successor, Arsenio Dominguez, was everywhere, getting up to speed before he begins in the top job in January.
London remains a major international shipping hub but has seen its profile wane in recent years along with the UK’s wider maritime service offering, such as the falling number of UK-flag vessels.
But one country’s loss is another’s gain — perhaps that is what the French International Registry was hoping when it signed up to sponsor the LISW gala dinner after-party, where the truly hardcore danced until the small hours on Thursday night.
The IMO hosted the “She Sees: Rewriting Women into Maritime” photography exhibition all week, featuring stories and portraits of women from across the UK maritime industry — past, present and future.
The Rewriting Women into Maritime initiative, which has been funded by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, seeks to change perceptions on the historical role of women in shipping.
There is a sense that that is happening in real-time — many attendees commented that women seemed to be a lot more visible during this LISW than previously.