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Tuesday 6th September, 2011 For global coverage of the maritime industry visit lloydslist.com

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A life less ordinary


With a career that reads more like a movie script than a mariner, Jacques Le Fur finds himself the only foreign master on Halong Bay in Vietnam
ESTHER DE LA CRUZ

The Last Word...


lastword@lloydslist.com
Key to secrecy for BP?
THE phrases oil industry and shining example of contract transparency are not often found in the same sentence and the latest shenanigans BP show this is very unlikely to happen any time soon. In response to recent raids by bailiffs on its Moscow offices, BP said in a statement it has managed to get further proceedings against it postponed for a week. It believes a court decision allowing the inspection and copying of documents in the Moscow office to satisfy disgruntled Russian claimant Andrei Prokhorov was outrageous. A big gripe by BP is the raiders used the keywords oil and gas in their search, which allowed them to seize virtually all documents in the office, including top secret ones. Last Word wonders what other keywords could be used on a raid on an oil and gas company, other than oil and gas. Looking under Justin Bieber or how to bake fairy cakes would be unlikely to throw up any major corporate secrets... but you never know. Anyway, as BP prepares for the next instalment from the Russian claimant in a weeks time, all of the examined documents apparently remain locked in a sealed cabinet in the Moscow office. Last Word wonders what BP might be tempted to do with the key.

SUN-BRONZED and white-haired, Jacques Le Fur is every inch the typical seasoned sailor albeit with a very atypical story. Portions of the 64-year-old captains life read like a film script: he was captured alone by communists on the Mekong River during the Vietnam War, patrolled Iraqs Basra River during the Gulf War, met his wife in a Paris caf, and, at the age of 59, uprooted to an exotic corner of the world to begin a new life. The phrase career choice has little meaning for Capt Le Fur, who was born in 1947 in Brittany, a French region surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. When you are born in Brittany, you are born a sailor, says the softly-spoken captain. I still cant imagine myself doing any other job. Capt Le Furs life became intertwined with Vietnam early on, when his father was killed while fighting in Tonkin, the primary seat of conflict in the First Indochina War. Aged 12, Capt Le Fur was taken in by a navy school for orphans of the war. After graduating from the naval academy, he obtained a bachelors degree in mathematics and entered the French merchant navy institute, the Ecole Nationale dHydrographie. At 26, Capt Le Fur was hungry to begin his life on the water. His chance came when a recruiter visited the institute to offer the graduates work in Tahiti. There was a catch: the sailors could claim their jobs in Tahiti after completing a six-month contract in Vietnam which was, by then, engulfed in another major war, this time with the US. Before leaving France, Capt Le

Le Fur: an orphan at 12, he was captured during the Vietnam War, patrolled the Basra River during the first Gulf War and found love in Paris.

Fur spent four months studying for a medical certificate in a hospital in Toulouse. In 1973, he was dispatched to My Tho in the south of Vietnam. By 1975, he was simultaneously captain of three medical river boats and Tahiti was as far out of mind as it was out of sight. I had fallen in love with Vietnam many times over, says Capt Le Fur. I stayed for two years, refusing my transfer to Tahiti, as well as an opportunity to return to France. For me, the opportunity was still in Asia. In 1975, Capt Le Fur was given an award for service to the people of Vietnam. But while he sought ways to stay in the country, the foreign powers of the day had soured on the topic of Vietnam and were planning a swift exit. On April 27, 1975, I was ordered to make one last trip to evacuate 260 people from the Cambodian

I had fallen in love with Vietnam many times over... When I came back to France, I felt lost, like a foreigner in my own country

border, as the Khmer Rouge had taken over Phnom Penh the week before, he recalls. After a successful evacuation and return to Vietnamese waters, I tried to phone my headquarters in Saigon. I soon realised everybody had escaped and I had been forgotten. My crew abandoned the ship, afraid to be drafted into the popular army and I found myself alone, anchored near Can Tho City. On May 7, Capt Le Fur was discovered by North Vietnamese soldiers and taken from Can Tho to Saigon, where he was kept with other French citizens at the Continental Hotel. They were eventually transported back to France by the Russian airline Aeroflot. Capt Le Fur returned to the naval institute and continued his training to become a captain, but his thoughts were elsewhere. When I came back to France, I felt lost, like a foreigner in my own country, he recalls. One evening, I went to dinner in Paris. It was a very small place, but when I went inside, I was met by a pretty Vietnamese waitress. Capt Le Fur was soon married and continued climbing the ranks of the naval institute, occasionally leaving France to take courses

from training centres abroad. By 1989, he was a certified captain employed by Brittany Ferries, steering ships with a capacity of 2,200 passengers through the English Channel. When the first Gulf War began in 1990, Capt Le Fur was one of the captains charged with carrying troops and vehicles to the Red Sea. A year later, he returned to Iraq to work on patrol boats between the Basra River and the Kuwait coast. Unwilling to leave his family for longer, Capt Le Fur returned to France after seven months. After obtaining his Master Captain certificate, he spent the following years in command of Brittany Ferries vessels. Before his retirement, he was awarded Chevalier du Merite Maritime for safe navigation and service to France. Then the mariner hung up his uniform and settled into life on land with his wife and two children. In January 2005, Capt Le Fur booked passage with Emeraude Classic Cruises for the first time while on holiday with his family in northern Vietnam. The Emeraude is a 50 m, upscale replica of a paddlewheel steamer that originally sailed the waters of Halong Bay from 1906 until its sinking in 1937. Like its namesake, the modern Emeraude transports tourists through a stunning, drowned karst seascape, recognised by Unesco as a natural heritage site in 1994. Le Fur did a personal inspection of the ship and was surprised to find it well maintained and outfitted with the latest safety systems and instruments. He found himself once again with Vietnam on his mind. Six months after his holiday, he returned to the helm of Emeraude as its captain. Today, Capt Le Fur is the only foreign captain on Halong Bay. He devotes his time to the navigation and safety of Emeraude, whose passengers are always surprised to meet a French captain on the far side of the world. The French Navy has always been my second family, he says, but Vietnam is now my second home. n www.lloydslist.com/people

Moscow: location of BPs office raid.

Happiness is not a revolution


IT SEEMS Suez ship chandler and transit agent Seabird Marine Services has launched a sideline in the area of personal development. The Egyptian company has issued an email on How to Be Happy, nuggets from which include such pithy but clichd suggestions as be optimistic, follow your gut and make enough money to meet your basic needs. It is unclear exactly what Seabird hopes to achieve with its stab at a feelgood message, but Last Word wonders if the company is perhaps out of touch with the prevailing joyful mood in the country, which kicked off the Arab Spring, enabling a generation of people across the Middle East and North Africa to hope for better prospects, politically, socially and economically. Seabird cautions: Find happiness in the job you have now, claiming: Many people expect the right job or the right career to dramatically change their level of happiness, but happiness research makes it clear that your level of optimism and the quality of your relationships eclipse the satisfaction you gain from your job. Perhaps it is just being practical in the face of huge social upheaval? But perhaps there is a deeper message for Egyptian citizens recently emancipated from authoritarian rule and striving to create a better future for all. Could the message be that your level of satisfaction with life is all just a matter of perception? Science suggests that when you smile, whether you feel happy or not, your mood will be elevated, Seabird says. So smile all the time! n
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Close Finnish in Teesport


AT least one thing is flourishing in northeast England: UK-Finnish trade. It is doing so well in fact, that last Wednesday the Finnish Ambassador Pekka Huhtaniemi swung by Teesport to enjoy the latest fruits this international cooperation has born: a quartet of rubber-tyred gantry cranes installed only two weeks earlier. Huhtaniemi, a career diplomat whose earlier postings include New York and Brussels, wisely showered his hosts with praise. Teesport is clearly a great logistics hub, the ambassador observed. After touring Teesport, His Excellency stuck around the northeast a bit longer to enjoy local culture and heritage with his wife. It is unknown how long the Huhtaniemis lasted before hightailing it back to the Finnish Embassy in Chelsea.

Companies featured
Shipping Corp of India...................2 GT Nexus ...................................... 2 Inttra............................................2 CSAV ............................................3 Mediterranean Shipping Co .......3, 4 CMA CGM.....................................3 Germanischer Lloyd...................... 3 Pacific Basin.................................3 Torm......................................3, 5, 6 Germanischer Lloyd...................... 3 Hamburg Sd................................3 Daewoo ........................................ 3 Tristar Shipping............................3 Gulf Maritime Ship Management ... 4 Reederei Nord............................... 5 Marinvest .....................................5 Gotland Shipping..........................5 Hafnia Management......................5 Lauritzen ...................................... 5 MOL..............................................5 AP Moller Maersk..........................5 HSH Nordbank...............................5 OSG..............................................6 Genmar ........................................ 6 Frontline.......................................6 Teekay..........................................6 Nordic American ........................... 6 Diamond S....................................6 Shell.............................................7 BP.................................................7 Maersk ......................................... 7 Lloyds Register ............................ 7 DNV..............................................7 Hyundai Heavy Industries..............7 Noble Drilling................................7

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