Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Daily Mail finds ghost scoop off coast of Malaysia

After yesterday's stunning Wall Street Journal revelation that Vietnamese men drink bia hoi today's award for stating the bleeding obvious but dressing it up as the scoop of the century goes to the Daily Mail for uncovering the existence of a "secretive ghost fleet" of empty container ships and oil tankers off the coast of Singapore.

In a story headlined Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession Hong Kong-based freelance journalist Simon Parry reveals that "the biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history lies at anchor east of Singapore".

Fearless Parry claims that this fleet of empty ships has "never before" been photographed and that "the world's ship owners and government economists would prefer you not to see this symbol of the depths of the plague still crippling the world's economies".

Which would all be great colour were it not for the fact that it's an outrageous exaggeration. Any one of the nearly 40 million passengers who have flown into Singapore's Changi airport in the last year will have been able to spot this "secretive" armada merely by peeking out of the window as they come in to land.

Equally, any one of the thousands of people who walk along the extensive beaches of Singapore's East Coast Park and Sentosa island every day will have been aware of the existence of this "ghost" fleet.

As for the ridiculous claim that these ships have "never before" been photographed, it's barely worth refuting. Suffice to say that in a 15-second search of Google Images, I found pics of idle ships taken well before this article was published here, here and here.

It's fair and worthwhile to write a story arguing that amid all the guff about green shoots, the shipping industry is still in dire straits. But, even by its own hyperbolic standards, the Daily Mail has pushed this one too far, and some.

Hat-tip to Lowy Interpreter. Pic courtesy of hradcanska, thanks to a creative commons licence.

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