Refugee rescued by Maersk vessel in 1981, celebrates long service with company
Captain Ngoc Nguyen always knew he wanted to be a captain on a Maersk Line vessel. 25 years later, that dream has come true
Ngoc Nguyen is the captain of Thomas Maersk, but his story begins many years ago on another vessel. “I was 13 years old when I first met a Maersk Line vessel” he said. “At that time I was a refugee. I was on a small boat sailing away from Vietnam to the Philippines.”
On the Arnold Maersk
In 1975, Clara Maersk had famously rescued 3,500 refugees fleeing the Vietnam War in the biggest rescue operation in the history of Maersk Line. In 1981, the war had been over for six years but refugees leaving the country were still abundant in the area. At this time Arnold Maersk was trading in the South China Sea.
One early morning, it spotted a small boat in the water and Captain Jørgen Orla Hansen decided to turn around and help. Some 60 people were taken on board, and one of these was 13-year old Ngoc Nguyen, along with his mother and three siblings. That event would be a turning point for young Ngoc.
“For me it’s just like yesterday,” he recalls. “I remember every detail from that time.” They were taken to a refugee camp in Hong Kong, and after six months Ngoc’s family were granted asylum in Denmark. Coming to Europe gave Ngoc a new life, but he always remembered that day in the South China Sea.
“At the time when I had to take an education, there was no doubt that I wanted to be a sailor,” tells Ngoc. “I wanted to be an officer or captain on board a Maersk Line vessel.” He joined Maersk in 1989 as a cadet, and incidentally his first ship was again Arnold Maersk. And when his first assignment as turn officer brought him to Mathilde Maersk, he met none other than the very same captain who had rescued him eight years earlier.
“I have no doubt that I have been very lucky and also very happy to be working with Maersk Line,” says Ngoc, who recently celebrated 25 years of service for Maersk Line at the end of August. Besides an office posting in Maersk Ship Design in China, and two years of service in the Royal Danish Navy, he has remained true to his boyhood dream of sailing under the white star.
In February, Ngoc was promoted to captain, and was given the keys to Thomas Maersk, sailing between Europe and West Africa.
“It was a young boy’s dream coming true, the day I became captain on Thomas Maersk,” he admits. And the memory of 1981 is still fresh in his mind. “Every time I’m back at sea and see small boats, I am aware that it could be a boat with refugees in the same situation.”
Earlier this year, Ngoc told the Maersk Post: “We have to fight for the things we want, and, in the end, maybe we will have a little bit of luck. In my case, my luck began on the day I met Arnold Maersk and went on to begin a new life.”
EU and US agree end to Airbus-Boeing supply chain tariffs
The EU and US have agreed to resolve a 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies, suspending tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of goods that have plagued procurement leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.
Under an agreement reached by European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Tuesday, the tariffs will be halted for a period of at least five years.
It will bring an end to punitive and disruptive levies on supply chains that have little to do with the argument, which became embroiled in the trade battle. Businesses on both sides of the dispute have been hit with more than $3.3bn in duties since they were first imposed by the US in October 2019, according the EC.
The US imposed charges on goods upto $7.5bn in response to a World Trade Organisation ruling that judged the EU’s support of Airbus, its biggest aircraft manufacturer, unlawful. A year later in November 2020, the EU hit back. The WTO found the US had violated trade rules in its favourable treatment of Boeing, and was hit with EU duties worth $4bn.
In all the tariffs affected $11.5bn worth of goods, including French cheese, Scotch whisky, aircraft and machinery in Europe, and sugarcane products, handbags and tobacco in America. Procurement leaders on both sides of the fence were forced to wrestle with tariffs of 15% on aircraft and components, and 25% on non-aircraft related products.
Boeing-Airbus dispute by the numbers
- The dispute began in 2004
- Tariffs suspended for 5 years
- $11.5bn worth of goods affected by tariffs
- $3.3bn in duties paid by businesses to date
- 15% levy on aircraft and 25% on non-aircraft goods suspended
Both sides welcome end to tariffs
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen branded the truce a “major step” in ending what is the longest running dispute in WTO history. It began in 2004.
“I am happy to see that after intensive work between the European Commission and the US administration, our transatlantic partnership is on its way to reaching cruising speed. This shows the new spirit of cooperation between the EU and the US and that we can solve the other issues to our mutual benefit,” she added.
Both aircraft manufacturers have welcomed the news. Airbus said in a statement that it will hopefully bring to an end the “lose-lose tariffs” that are affecting industries already facing “many challenges”. Boeing added that it will “fully support the U.S. Government’s efforts to ensure that the principles in this understanding are respected”.
The US aerospace firm added: "The understanding reached today commits the EU to addressing launch aid, and leaves in place the necessary rules to ensure that the EU and United States live up to that commitment, without requiring further WTO action."
This week’s decision expands upon a short-term tariff truce announced in March this year. The EC says it will work closely with the US to try and further resolve the dispute, establishing a Working Group on Large Civil Aircraft led by each side’s trade minister.
Airbus last month signalled to suppliers that post-pandemic recovery was on the horizon, telling them to scale up to meet a return to pre-COVID manufacturing levels. “The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury, adding that suppliers should prepare for a period of intensive production “when market conditions call for it.”