Collecting materials for my weaving this summer, I found this tag washed up on Weyborne beach in Norfolk, UK. At the time I wasn’t that excited about this piece of red plastic, but picked it up anyway, wondering whether the text and numbers might lead me to discover more about the story behind this object.
A brief dalliance with Google explains that Delmar Safety appear to be a company who specialise in all aspects of marine safety, operating out of Rotterdam in The Netherlands, and Izmir and Istanbul in Turkey.
Browsing their online catalogue of life rafts, fire fighting equipment and handcuffs, I found what I was looking for – ISPS seals. I discovered that these are International Ship & Port Facility Security seals, typically attached to shipping containers to prevent them being opened in transit.
As the North Norfolk coast faces the North Sea, it would be sensible to assume that the story behind this item began in Rotterdam, attached to a shipping container.
Finding such an item has led my imagination to run riot, and I’ve been relishing thinking about answers to the following questions:
- Was this security seal discarded when a container arrived at it’s destination in The Netherlands?
- What if it began it’s journey in Rotterdam – Where was it headed? Where had it come from?
- What if this seal was broken during transit – Why was it broken? And by whom?
- What important cargo was the container holding that caused this International Security seal to be broken?
- What if the container fell from a ship in the North Sea, it’s contents spilling into our waters? Perhaps more common than people realise, with estimates that over 10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea every year.
As luck would have it, the more observant amongst you will have already noticed that the security seal possesses a serial number. I am going to see what can be discovered about this find by approaching the company, although in this age of data protection, I’m not sure how much information will be available to me, and indeed if such information is held my them, the port authority or even the ship it travelled on.
Any scrap of detail about the life of this object would be wonderful, as it is the story behind those items washed up on our shores that fascinate me. This tag will begin a new chapter in its story, working its way into one of my flotsam weavings, but wouldn’t it be fascinating to learn more about how it came to rest at my feet on a Norfolk beach this summer?
A true example of lost and found.