On Tuesday, November 14, at the Neraida Floating Museum, the writer, historian, researcher and founder of the Greek Shipping Miracle web site, Mr. George M. Foustanos, gave a speech titled “The unknown Merchant Shipping”.
In his speech, Mr. Foustanos referred to developments in Greek merchant shipping since 1870, around the time of transition from sailships to steam boats. He explained the role of shipping during the Balkan Wars and focused on unknown aspects concerning the close ties of Eleftherios Venizelos with ship-owners and the shipping industry in general.
He stressed the importance of shipping for the development of the country – especially the islands – during the interwar period, the sacrifices it made during World War II and the revival of the industry with help from abroad in the first two post-war decades.
He also referred to the efforts of the Greek Governments since 1953 to attract the registration of ships to the Hellenic Register of Shipping, the establishment of shipping companies' headquarters in Piraeus and the multiple benefits that the country enjoyed by achieving these goals.
He underlined the role that the activities of Greek ship-owners played during the post-war period in the development of leading economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as of countries in the Far East like Japan, South Korea and China.
Having a deep understanding of how shipping is a key pillar of our nation, Mr. Foustanos explained why he retired from the shipping business in order to devote himself to studying and recording the history of Greek shipping, with the aim to make it more widely known, both at home and abroad. His vision became reality in July 2014, when the Greek Shipping Miracle online museum was created.
Referring to the goals and operation of the Neraida Floating Museum, the President of the Museum's Board of Directors and member of the Executive Council of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, Mr. Vangelis Chronis, noted: “The main objectives of the Museum are – among other things – bringing to light the course of the business through the years, promoting the shipping and naval history of our country to the younger generations and protecting the marine environment. The museum is funded by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and is one of the Foundation's main areas of activity”. Mr Chronis also added that: “Since 2013, when the museum started to operate, it has attracted more than 50,000 visitors. Since June 2016, “Neraida” is docked at the Flisvos yachting harbour and is open to the public with free admission. Also, in the context of the museum's public benefit activities, a free interactive educational programme for primary school is run every year, with about 1,500 children having participated so far”.
The distinguished poet and writer Mr. Manos Eleftheriou said among other things:
"Writing, or rather recording, a true story is not something that can be done from one day to the next. It is a labour of love that requires admiration, dedication and endless effort in order to cross reference every little piece of data that may hide a small treasure of other information, which will give a whole new aspect to the main storyline".
The event was attended by the Mayor of Palaio Faliro, Mr. Dionysis Hatzidakis, various museums officials, scholars, artists, as well as representatives of the port authorities and the merchant shipping industry.
The Greek Shipping Miracle (www.greekshippingmiracle.org), the first online shipping museum, was created to promote the endeavours of Greek merchant shipping over the years, as well as its contribution to the national and global economy.
This complex project is in the form of an educational website that offers its visitors the opportunity to explore the course of the world's leading maritime power, from its first steps in the 1870s to the 21st century.
With access to one of the world's largest private archives about shipping, the Greek Shipping Miracle already attracts visitors from more than 160 countries.
Although shipping plays a central role in the welfare of the world's population, its contribution is rarely acknowledged, while its services are often seen as a given. The industry’s key features are highlighted by focusing on its cultural heritage. It is an industry without frontiers that encourages cooperation between people of different national and cultural identities. In addition, it improves the standard of living and strengthens the economies of developed and developing countries through the transport of basic commodities