17th July 2014 marks the outbreak of the Chikungunya virus in the French West Indies and Guyana; no vaccine or cure is present as if now. The virus is characterized by abrupt fever and joint pain along with fatigue and bodily rashes; however the virus is not fatal but still detrimental to the maritime scene altogether.
Oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, control the planet’s climate and provide the protein framework for global consumption along withh producing half of the oxygen used with micro-organisms being the driving force behind this synthesis; supporting nutrient and energy cycles along with constitution 90% of biomass of the ocean’s lifeforms. Viruses, however kill 20% of this biomass on a daily basis while also housing undiscovered genetic strains which produce more new viruses; making the maritime landscape riskier. However, globalisation and contract terms demand more from the maritime landscape with some of them demanding more action at a faster pace; leaving mariners and ship crew at risk from all the new virus strains being produced daily.
So what would be the right action in the modern, risky world of shipping? Send out a research vessel to study the virusphere and evaluate all the variables that would increase success of your marine operations. Viruses alter geo-chemical cycles in world’s oceans and structure lives of organisms living within which make the maritime landscape more unpredictable than it already was; creating more reason to invest in a research vessel.
Sending a research vessel over another type of vessel is more profitable, safe and economic for many reasons. While a research vessel is incapable of carrying heavier cargo; however it can be converted into a multi-functional vessel and can fulfill many tasks. Sending a tanker, for example will create more losses as crews will get infected with the virus and even spread it without proper quarantine; same goes for a landing craft. A research vessel, however is capable of carrying the virus specimen more securely as well as keep the crew safer in a properly quarantined work room. Our research vessel build, HI 50M houses 2x extra work rooms and 4x labs; allowing to study the virus better from more angles and perspectives, something that tankers and landing craft are incapable of doing unless more expensive and complicated conversion takes place.
Viruses also prey and consume each other producing energy from sulfur compounds present in other micro-organisms; changing energy content and making us, as a civilisation miss out on some ocean discoveries. Having more research vessels in your fleet will make you more aware of the ocean landscape and microbe activity; a caste that shapes maritime ecology which covers 70% of the planet’s surface.
Pathogens, even in modern times are a mystery in ways that little is known about their lifecycle, sources and reservoirs of energy as well as impact of a possible infections. This fact warrants more attention to possible habitats of said pathogens, in this case the ocean.
Our civilisation, finally always paid more attention to economic, consequential and prevensive sides to a virus outbreak and little to no attention to the virus itself; negatively affecting economy. Research costs less than the above, making research vessels an economically sound approach to viral infections. What does this leave; a more lethal and persistant virus which is still a mystery to medicine and while the overdue research is being done the virus keeps spreading. What do we, maritime groups do about this? Invest in a research vessel and prepare for a viral attack.