The Maritime Advocate–Issue 772



1. An Italian job
2. Year of the Seafarer
3. New Year, new risks
4. Colregs hit the Supreme Court
5. E- learning for seafarers
6. Port digitalisation
7. Credit bidding
8. Singapore cases
9. Women in shipping
10. Just in time
11. Closing the safety gap
12. Witness statements
13. Crew care app
14. Restrictive practices
15. LMAA statistics

Notices & Miscellany

Readers’ responses to our articles are very welcome and, where suitable, will be reproduced:
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1. An Italian job
By Michael Grey

Whatever your particular mode of transport might be, you are well advised not to have any sort of accident within the jurisdiction of the state of Italy. An advanced European country, you might think, with a well-developed system of justice? That may be the impression everyone who loves that country likes to think, but just don’t make any sort of a mistake in Italian waters, if you don’t want to end up serving a custodial sentence.

This view has been recently reinforced by the treatment accorded to five members of the crew of the cruise ship MSC Opera, which, it might be recalled, had a spectacular “hard landing” in 2019, trying to get alongside in the port of Venice. Terrifying videos were instantly available from several angles, showing people running for their lives on the quay as the ship, apparently out of control, bounced off the wharf and slammed into a harbour cruise craft. Five people were injured in the general mayhem.
The initial explanation was of a “technical problem”, but such malfunctions did not save the master of the ship from a five month gaol sentence, with the ship’s chief engineer and the chief electrician being given two months apiece. Two others were found to be at fault and were given ten days gaol time.
The rationale behind these sentences, as revealed by the court, was that there were indeed problems aboard the ship as she approached the port, but that the accused pressed on with their intention to berth, when they perhaps should have held off until it was perfectly safe to proceed. The company, which backed its on-board team, maintained that the technical problem was just that, and the fault lay with the people responsible for the equipment.

Custodial sentences in such a situation might seem very harsh. It was possibly influenced by the location of the incident, and the timing, as it coincided with a tremendous effort by people in Venice to get big cruise ships banned from the lagoon. It also has to be borne in mind that unlike some places that have a system where the cause of an accident is investigated by independent marine professionals, in Italy the investigation is merely part of a judicial process – in effect a trial, where any professionals play only an advisory role.

Italy is just one of many countries that have elected to maintain such a system, and shows no reluctance to commit to prison those deemed to have been responsible for marine accidents. There have been a number of such occasions in recent years. Maybe one should not be judgemental in such matters, but it might reasonably asked what might be served by the criminalising of professionals who have made a mistake, lapse of judgement, or merely have been overtaken by circumstances.
In such cases a complete lay person will surely find the technical complexities that might be extenuating completely mystifying. This is increasingly the case when advanced automation systems effectively relegate the ship’s technical staff to bystanders. The handling of big ships in very confined waters, such a non-professional judge may well conclude, will surely be no more challenging than parking a car.
Italy might have form in this respect, but maybe we should not hold its systems as unduly harsh. Indeed, it might be suggested that the determination of blame, rather than causation, has become entrenched throughout the whole world and that accidents which would once have been dealt with by professional investigation now increasingly involve law enforcement. The enforcers in most of these places are also now armed with a host of useful catch-all charges that can be deployed, such as “hazarding a ship”, to suit the situation in a wide range of circumstances. They are surely giving effect to something of a societal change that has seen growing intolerance to any sort of “accident” – a word that has ceased to have much meaning.

Will marine professionals be less inclined to any form of error, if they know that it carries with it the risk of a custodial sentence, to satisfy the public demand for somebody to be “held to account” for his or her actions? And in an age when these marine professionals are being asked, overtly or covertly by managements, to shave safety margins, to handle bigger and bigger ships in more fraught circumstances, with prudence and caution being regarded as outmoded, shouldn’t we cut them a bit of slack?

Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List.

2. Year of the Seafarer

IMO has chosen to make 2021 a year of action for seafarers, who are facing unprecedented hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite their vital role as key workers for global supply chains. The World Maritime Theme for 2021, “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future” seeks to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable role they play now and will continue to play in the future.

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on seafarers, with hundreds of thousands of men and women stranded on ships for months beyond their original contracts, unable to be repatriated due to national travel restrictions. A similar number of seafarers are unable to join ships and earn a living. This crew change crisis, which has been ongoing for nearly a year, is a humanitarian emergency that threatens the safety of shipping.

Launching the World Maritime theme on 16 February, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said more governments must step up to end the crew change crisis.

“A first step would be for all countries to designate seafarers as key workers, as outlined in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution adopted in December,” Mr Lim said, referring to the UNGA resolution on International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic to support global supply chains.

Mr  Lim  also recently expressed his deep concern about the escalation in the number and severity of attacks on ships and crew in the Gulf of Guinea region. He insisted on the need for all stakeholders to work together to restore security and reduce the threats to the safety and security of crews and vessels operating in the region.

The urgency of the situation has been underlined by the attack on the container ship Mozart on 23 January 2021, which resulted in a fatality and the kidnapping of 15 seafarers.
The Secretary-General also highlighted that ships need to implement the IMO endorsed Best Management Practices (BMP) for West Africa (WA) to avoid, deter, delay and report attacks. The BMP cover risk assessment, ship protection measures and reporting. (The BMP can be downloaded here: ).

IMO intends to convene a maritime security working group focusing on the Gulf of Guinea at the next session of the Maritime Safety Committee, MSC 103, scheduled to take place in May 2021.

3. New Year, new risks

Perhaps it is not surprising that significant new trends are to be found in the TT Club and BSI’s annual cargo theft report, in view of what has been going on in the last year. While theft of cargo in transit figures for 2020 may have dropped in comparison to the previous year, other new trends result from the pandemic like thefts of PPE, face masks and bacterial gel. Supply chain threats resulting from Covid-19 have also come to the fore.

The most significant trend highlighted by the report was the relative shift in the location of thefts, with in-transit incidents and those involving vehicles showing a decline, though remaining the most dominant threat, and theft from storage facilities increasing. The extent of the rise in the latter was variable from region to region however this trend was reflective of the disruption to supply chains brought about by radical changes to consumer buying patterns as a consequence of the pandemic, according to TT Club and BSI.

TT Club’s Managing Director, Loss Prevention, Mike Yarwood explains: “The effects throughout 2020 of the Covid crisis threatened supply chain security, continuity and resilience. Not only did newly created high-value commodities such as PPE become targets for theft but bottle-necks in the logistics infrastructure at ports and warehouses brought increased potential risks. Temporary overflow storage facilities added to the dangers in loosening the grip of existing security systems.”

In Europe, the stockpiling of goods meant these inventories came under particular threat with 48% of 2020 reported thefts coming from warehouses and production facilities. This was in contrast with 2019 when only 18% came at such locations. On the other hand, 54% of incidents occurred in rest areas and parking sites in 2019 — the 2020 figure was 19%.

In Asia, the countries with the highest risk remain India, Indonesia, China and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Brazil remained a hot spot in South America and there was a significant impact from unrest in Mexico in 2020.

In the coming year disruption and the uneven resumption of international trade resulting from the spread of Covid will continue with imbalances in shipping container distribution that are likely to impact maritime, and through a knock-on effect air cargo capacity throughout 2021. The added vulnerability of cargo will therefore continue, TT Club and BSI warn.

The full report can be downloaded free of charge HERE

4. Colregs hit the Supreme Court

In the first collision appeal to come before the Supreme Court, and nearly 50 years after a collision appeal was last heard by the House of Lords, the Supreme Court has provided clarification on how to construe the Collision Regulations for the purposes of applying the Crossing Rules (Rules 15-17).  In holding that the Crossing Rules applied to the encounter between the Ever Smart and Alexandra I, it has overturned the decisions of both the Admiralty Court and Court of Appeal.

It is now settled that in the vicinity of the end of a narrow channel, the Crossing Rules are to apply where there is a risk of collision between two vessels that are on crossing courses and a steady bearing. The Crossing Rules will only be disapplied when the approaching vessel is shaping to enter the channel, adjusting her course so as to reach the entrance on the starboard side of it, on her final approach.

Click on the link below where Christian Dwyer, Sophie Henniker-Major and James Drummond of Ince summarise this decision and provide their comment on the judgment.


5. E-learning for seafarers

International seafarer welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers has announced the launch of its new e-learning modules as an extension to its WeCare programme. In response to the added pressures on seafarers during Covid-19, the two face-to-face programmes are being moved online to provide greater accessibility.

WeCare was launched by The Mission to Seafarers in January 2019. The goal of this ambitious new initiative was to address an issue at the very heart of seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing: relationships and emotions.

Both courses are designed to help seafarers cope with concerns from home, which might lead to potential safety issues at sea. In response to the 2020 pandemic, which has impacted seafarers in many ways, including onboard quarantines and severely restricted crew changes, The Mission recognised the programme needed to adapt.

The health of seafarers at sea and at home has been impacted like never before and due to restrictions on  face-to-face interactions, ship visits or group workshops, WeCare transitioned to e-learning.

Both flagship courses, Social Wellbeing and Financial Wellbeing, will blend multimedia content with reflective learning exercises to engage seafarers. Each course is one hour and is complemented by wellbeing videos, weblinks and downloads to use onboard.

The Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General, The Mission to Seafarers, commented: “I am delighted to announce the launch of The Mission to Seafarers’ new WeCare e-learning modules.

“This new initiative is a solution to some of the main challenges seafarers are experiencing today. In creating these modules, we have run multiple focus groups, and spent many hours interviewing and learning from seafarers themselves, so we know that these courses reflect issues which matter to them.

“By providing educational courses in social and financial wellbeing, WeCare has already reached more than 6,000 seafarers and their families. We are deeply grateful for the support of  the UK P&I Club, the TK Foundation, which has made this project possible and look forward to seeing the ongoing benefits of our new digital offering.”

To find out more visit:

6. Port digitalisation

Following on from our piece on port digitalisation in MA Issue 771 we would like to point readers to the report produced recently by the World Bank and the International Association of Ports and Harbors. This new report in January shows that better digital collaboration between private and public entities across the maritime supply chain will result in significant efficiency gains, safer and more resilient supply chains, and lower emissions. Accelerating Digitalization: Critical Actions to Strengthen the Resilience of the Maritime Supply Chain describes how collaborative use of digital technology can help streamline all aspects of maritime transport, from cross-border processes and documentation to communications between ship and shore, with a special focus on ports.

Although the International Maritime Organization has made it mandatory for all its member countries to exchange key data electronically (the FAL convention), a recent IAPH survey reveals that only a third of over 100 responding ports comply with that requirement. The main barriers to digitalize cited by the ports were the legal framework in their countries or regions and persuading the multiple private-public stakeholders to collaborate, not the technology.

The report analyses numerous technologies applied already by some from the world’s leading port and maritime communities, including big data, the internet of things (IoT), fifth-generation technology (5G), blockchain solutions, wearable devices, unmanned aircraft systems, and other smart technology-based methods to improve performance and economic competitiveness.

7. Credit bidding

In the maritime sector, credit bidding often takes place in the context of forced judicial sales of vessels pendente lite (i.e., during the course of litigation) and frequently before judgment is obtained against the borrower shipowner as law firm Reid Smith points out.

However, the law firm asks in an analysis, why would or should the secured lenders be bidding on a distressed asset in the first place? How does the process work, where can it be done, and who might object?

The law firm has penned an article to explore some of these questions in the context of judicial sales of ocean-going vessels and looks at some of the differing jurisdictional approaches to credit bidding.

For the full story see:

8. Singapore cases

Dentons Rodyk has provided details of two recent cases in Singapore which will be of interest to readers. The first outlines alternative procedures for ship arrests as since the onset of Covid-19 there have been concerns about the risk of transmission to those needing to board the vessel in a ship arrest scenario.
Read the complete article

The second involves collision and change of ownership and who is the defendant in an action in rem.
Read the complete article

The TT Club has also highlighted another interesting case from Singapore, in circumstances where no formal contractual relationship had been formed. It acts as a reminder that it is always prudent for all parties to a transaction to be certain of the terms that will apply and ensure that formalities are followed. See China Coal Solutions (Singapore) Pte Ltd v Avra Commodities Pte Ltd [2020] SGCA 81.

To read the full story go to:

9.  Women in shipping

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International) have launched the Women in Maritime – IMO and WISTA International Survey 2021 to examine the proportion and distribution of women working in the maritime sector, from support roles to executive level positions.

The survey is part of a series of activities aimed at laying the groundwork for further discussions on how to build a more diverse workforce within the maritime sector, essential for a sustainable future. The data obtained by the survey will help build a picture of diversity and gender equality in the industry.

The launch of the study follows the 2020 signing of the IMO-WISTA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on promoting greater diversity and inclusion through enhanced cooperation activities in the maritime sector.   The MoU aims to set a framework for both organisations to promote gender diversity and inclusion as vital factors in providing a sustainable future for the shipping industry worldwide.

The   survey is open to IMO member states, IGOs, NGOs, public and private companies in the maritime sector and maritime training establishments. There are two separate surveys to be completed by member states and industry.

Click here for Member State survey: Women in Maritime – IMO and WISTA International Survey 2021 (

Click here for NGOS/Companies survey: Women in Maritime – IMO and WISTA International Survey 2021 (

The deadline for the completion of the survey is 30 June 2021.

10. Just in time

In order to encourage wider adoption of just in time (JIT) arrival principles in the bulk sector, BIMCO has published a new clause for voyage charterparties to promote more efficient shipping procedures and as a result, help reduce CO2 emissions.

The new clause creates a contractual framework to overcome the primary obstacle to just in time arrivals; the obligation on shipowners to proceed with due or utmost despatch and without deviation. This is a critical aspect of making JIT arrivals work. Removing this obstacle will allow ships to optimise their speed and thereby arrive at a port at an optimal time and avoid delays without breaching their usual voyage charter obligations.

BIMCO believes that the widespread adoption of JIT arrivals in the bulk sector will bring many benefits including reductions in fuel consumption, emissions and waiting times in ports and at anchorage. In addition, the concept will make shipping more efficient and improve vessel utilisation. From a charterers’ perspective, the JIT scheme should help foster a greater focus on setting more accurate laycans. Currently, charterers often agree laycans that have ships hurrying to arrive at ports to meet a cancelling date only to end up waiting for lengthy periods at anchorage before berthing.

BIMCO’s JIT Arrival Clause for Voyage Charter Parties gives charterers the right to ask owners to optimise the ship’s speed to meet a specified arrival time. If the ship is on its way to a loading port, charterers must in return agree a revised cancelling date.

Just in time arrival schemes have been successfully implemented in the container sector and BIMCO believes that the bulk sector could also benefit. The bulk sector is not as vertically integrated as the liner trades and has many more “players”. As a result, implementing just in time arrival schemes in the bulk sector will require a determined and coordinated effort between owners, charterers and other key stakeholders. A few bulk operators are already using just in time arrival schemes and BIMCO believes that the bulk sector as a whole should actively investigate a more widespread adoption as pressure grows to optimise ships and ports.

Copies of the BIMCO Just in Time Arrivals Clause for Voyage Charter Parties can be downloaded from BIMCO’s website.

11.  Closing the safety gap

Classification society DNV GL has released a white paper – “Closing the safety gap in an era of transformation”  which identifies a looming “safety gap” between shipping’s existing approach to safety risks and its ambitions for greater digitalisation and the adoption of alternative fuels.

The maritime industry is undergoing a rapid transition to a decarbonised, digitally smart future. However, the new technologies and fuels that the industry is banking on to meet the challenges of the next decades are also creating a new risk landscape and demanding a new approach to safety. If shipping is able to adapt and implement the new safety paradigm identified in the white paper – the end result could be a maritime industry that is not only more efficient and sustainable – but safer as well.

“To close the safety gap, we will need a collective, ongoing effort,” said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, chief executive of DNV GL – Maritime. “As a class society, we can play a leading role by acting as trailblazers for regulators, gathering expertise, partnering with industry and developing guidelines. Suppliers, owners, charterers, and yards can work together to ensure we treat vessels holistically, over the entire lifecycle, rather than as a collection of separate sub-systems. We need to recognize how any single decision, for example the choice of fuel or introduction of a new digital system, impacts upon other ship systems, the vessel as a whole, and even the fleet. But, if we can all work together, step out of our silos, we can develop the procedures and competencies needed to meet these challenges and enable a culture of continuous improvement,” he continued.

The white paper focuses on the twin trends shaping the industry – digitalization and decarbonisation – and the different safety-related risks associated with these trends. Digitalization increases system complexity and introduces new ways of operation and collaboration, while decarbonisation involves a significant increase in the use of alternative fuels and operations. To deal with these, the white paper focuses heavily on the interaction between technology, organizations, and the greatest asset of the maritime industry: its people.

The white paper concludes that every maritime organization can play a part in facilitating safe and efficient performance, by balancing technology and personnel, utilizing human-centric design, and ensuring the overall wellbeing of their people. Because ultimately, it is the people in these organisations who will lead the industry forward as it transforms to a more digital and decarbonized future.

Download a copy of the paper at: ‘Closing the safety gap in an era of transformation

12. Witness statements

Significant changes to the rules governing the preparation of witness statements will come into force on 6 April 2021. They will apply, with a few exceptions, to all trial witness statements signed on or after that date in Business and Property Court proceedings, which include the Admiralty Court.

These changes, together with initial amendments made to the witness evidence rules in April 2020, have implications for those giving and taking witness evidence and potentially carry the risk of sanctions, including strike out of the witness evidence and costs penalties, should they not be adhered to. Christian Dwyer and Donal Keaney of Ince consider some of these implications in the attached article, particularly in the context of shipping claims.


13. Crew care app

Marking a significant step forward in seafarer welfare, a group of established maritime entities have joined forces to build a digital platform aimed at improving the emotional well-being of the world’s 1.7 million seafarers.

The Safebridge CrewCare app – jointly developed by volunteer group Container Shipping Supporting Seafarers (CSSS), maritime EdTech company Safebridge, data analytics company Motion Ventures, and the Universities of Manchester and Plymouth – encourages seafarers to open up about their feelings and thoughts to mitigate the risk of depression and suicide. In 2017, the UK P&I Club revealed that suicide was the top cause of seafarers’ deaths, accounting for 15% of all fatalities at sea.

The app incorporates a professionally qualified questionnaire based on techniques medical practitioners use to make decisions when presented with a patient’s symptoms. An algorithm rates the multi-choice answers given to rate the mood of the seafarer from 1 (low risk) to 10. If a user scores 9 or 10, then that person is identified, and actions can be taken by the ship management company to mobilise appropriately qualified personnel in support of the individual.

The app combines features and functionalities derived from Motion Ventures and Safebridge platforms to offer a single central point for assessing, monitoring, and responding to seafarers’ health and well-being needs.It also features an integrated communications function and affords access to the 24h International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) helpline SeafarerHelp.

14. Restrictive practices

Countries around the world could boost their prospects of economic recovery from Covid-19 by reducing restrictive maritime trade policies, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has found.
An ICS report, entitled ‘Protectionism in Maritime Economies’ and co-authored with Professor Craig Van Grasstek of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, found that reducing trade protectionism could see GDP gains for national economies increase by up to 3.4%.

The report found that high-income countries could see an average increase of 4.5% in their goods exports if they were to loosen tariff and non-tariff restrictions on trade. Developing economies would experience an even greater increase, of 7%, if they reduced their restrictions in a ‘modest and equal’ way.

Trade barriers are making it more difficult for national economies to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the World Trade Organization US$1.7 trillion of world imports have been affected by constraints like these since 2009. The value of global maritime trade was estimated at US$14 trillion in 2019.

The report lays out four scenarios for potential reform, ranging from ‘highly ambitious’ (where countries reduce tariff and non-tariff measures by 50%), through ‘modest and equal’ (a 10% reduction), ‘modest and unequal’ (wealthy countries reduce by 10%, developing economies by 5%), to ‘tariffs and trade agreements only’ (whereby all countries make a reduction of 10%, based only on traditional trade tariffs and commitments in trade agreements).

Some 46 maritime nations, accounting for the vast majority of the global economy, were analysed and given a ‘Protectionism in Maritime Economies’ (PRIME) score according to how restrictive their trade policies are, based on factors such as management and licensing rules, government integrity, and tariffs. The PRIME score is a single number that allows general comparison by aggregating the different measures of a country’s trade policies.

The economic impact of the pandemic is being compounded by the knock-on effects of growing trade protectionism. ICS’s report found  decades of progress toward open markets has begun to reverse in recent years, with damaging restrictions imposed as weapons in trade wars or in response to the pandemic. Factors such as overzealous anticompetitive licensing laws, or discriminatory treatment of foreign companies, were found to be up to five times as harmful to an economy as traditional tariffs.

This study is part of a larger project, details of which are available on clicking visiting our website.

15. LMAA statistics

In 2020 members of the London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA) received 3,010 appointments – more than in any year since 2015. That means an estimated number of new arbitration cases of 1,775; an increase on 2019 which itself showed a rise over 2018.

Awards published number 523, a slight reduction on 2019 which is probably explained by the pandemic. But this figure masks an increase in the number of awards made under the faster and cheaper procedures which the LMAA offers – up from 128 to 140. Apart from the standard LMAA Terms, the LMAA publishes an Intermediate Claims Procedure and a Small Claims Procedure.

Notices & Miscellany

Coleridge Blackett
Justin Saldanha has contacted us to inform us of the death of   Coleridge (Paul) Blackett. Mr Blackett worked with Fednav    in the claims department. Following his retirement from Fednav, he worked at the P & I Club correspondent Shipowners Assurance Management also handling cargo claims.

International Shipping Forum
Capital Link’s 15th Annual International Shipping Forum will take place on Tuesday & Wednesday, March 2 & 3, 2021 as a digital event. The Forum is held in partnership with Citi and in cooperation with NYSE and Nasdaq.

Over the course of two days, the Forum will feature 84 senior executives from leading maritime companies, financiers and industry participants and will examine the macroeconomic issues that are shaping and transforming the international shipping markets today, featuring a comprehensive review and outlook of the various shipping markets, made more relevant by the release of companies’ annual results. Discussions will include topics of critical relevance to the industry such as geopolitics, environmental regulations, technology, addressing the current crewing crisis, fleet renewal, post – Covid-19 recovery and more.


Cyber security course
Korean Register   has launched a range of maritime cyber security e-learning courses in conjunction with Orange Security, a specialist cyber security consulting company, to support clients who may be having difficulty organizing group training because of the global pandemic. The new online training course can be found at

Mission’s annual Singapore awards
The Mission to Seafarers has opened nominations for its annual Singapore Awards. The charity is calling for the maritime community to propose individuals and organisations that have made significant contributions to improving the welfare of seafarers. The deadline for entries is 3rd September 2021.

For more information regarding how to submit a nomination or book a table, please follow the link here.
Please notify the Editor of your appointments, promotions, new office openings and other important happenings:

And finally…

Tips for everyday cheapskates
Old telephone directories are ideal for personal address books, just mark out all the names and addresses that you don’t know.

When reading a book tear out each page as you read them, this prevents having to buy bookmarks, and later the pages can be used as shopping lists.

Fool other drivers by taking a old TV remote and holding it up to your ear, this will make it look like you will have a very expensive cell phone! But don’t forget to occasionally swerve across the road and mount the curb.

Drill a one inch diameter hole in your refrigerator so you can check to see if the light goes off when you close it.

Increase the life of your carpets by rolling them up and placing them in the garage.

No time for a bath? Just wrap yourself in masking tape and peel it off in a few minutes, this will remove dirt quickly.

Expensive hair gels are a con. Marmalade is much cheaper, but beware of bees in the summer.

Avoid cutting yourself by clumsily slicing your vegetables while you get somebody else to hold it for you.

Thanks for Reading the Maritime Advocate online

Maritime Advocate Online is a fortnightly digest of news and views on the maritime industries, with particular reference to legal issues and dispute resolution. It is published to over 20,000 individual subscribers each week and republished within firms and organisations all over the maritime world. It is the largest publication of its kind. We estimate it goes to around 60,000 readers in over 120 countries.