Are you a shipwreck survivor? Dan wants to hear from you!

Seeking individuals to participate in an oral history project focusing on survivors of shipwrecks for the research of a PhD candidate

Wednesday, September 27 2023

Are you a shipwreck survivor? Dan wants to hear from you!

I’m Dan Jamieson and I’m just starting a PhD at Plymouth University generously supported by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the Philip Nicholas Charitable Trust. My project will be gathering oral histories of shipwreck survivors. The aim of my research is to gather about twenty interviews with survivors from a range of seafaring backgrounds - Naval, merchant, cruise ship, ferry and liner, lifeboat search and rescue, fishing, yachting, right down to cross-Atlantic rowers and migrants making crossings in small boats. The intention is to start a collection of first-hand accounts that will grow over time, that will reveal the experience of shipwreck from a broad range of vividly personal perspectives.

The research will preserve survivors’ stories for the historical record and help raise understanding of their experiences. This seems important when familiarity with life at sea is diminishing along with the number of people who work and travel there. Also, nowadays empathy for seafarers in distress is not uniformly engaged. Yet shipping is a growing industry – there are 100,000 cargo ships travelling the world today. Shipwreck is still more common than most people think - on average, two merchant ships sink a week and 2000 merchant seamen die at sea a year around the world. And many, many migrants lose their lives trying to cross into Europe – 30,000 since 2014. We must not lose sight of these people. We must keep them in our minds and hearts.

If you are a survivor of any sort sinking at sea and feel able to share your story with me, I’d be very grateful to hear it. Also, if you know someone who you think might have a story to tell, I’d be glad to hear from you too. The interviews will be recorded (not filmed) one-to-one, face-to-face if possible, otherwise by Zoom on computer, and 60 - 90 minutes long. It would be easy to interview you via Zoom if you have a computer or laptop - I will be able to take you through the process step by step. But, if possible, I would prefer to come to where you live to talk to you.

The interviews will be sensitively done, subject to a plan approved by Plymouth University’s ethics committee. That sounds formal, but it means that I and my supervisors have thought very carefully about looking after people being interviewed. You can tell me in advance if there’s any part of the story you don’t want to talk about. Also, if a subject comes up during the interview that you’re uncomfortable about, it’s fine to say you’d rather not speak about it.

Before the interview I would call by phone to say hello and introduce myself, explain more what I’m up to and answer any questions. I will also send an information sheet with more details of the project and, if you’re ok to take part, ask you to sign a consent form.

Please feel welcome to ask more about the project or me before deciding to take part. I am interviewing for the next 6 months, until about April next year (2024). If you are happy to take part, let’s talk about when is good for us to meet.

I look forward to hearing from you at