A fool's guide to the ‘dark fleet’


Since the beginning of the Russia Ukraine conflict, maritime as well as mainstream media publications have been labelling some cargo ships as dark, grey, or shadow fleet.

Most maritime publications have been quick to catch on this trend and casually use such terms which have deeply negative connotations and racial undertones. Why wouldn’t they call it say ‘light’ fleet instead of ‘dark’ fleet? This question may seem amusing for most westerners; but ask people from Global South and they would agree that such colour shade characterisation is not appreciated.

Funnily, these very publications are happy to espouse ESG values every now and then, while publishing digital reams of diversity & inclusivity content.

Nonetheless, let’s understand what is the so called ‘dark fleet’? ChatGPT states:

‘As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, there is no verified information or widely recognized entity known as the "dark fleet" in the context of global affairs or international relations. The term "dark fleet" is not commonly associated with any specific organization, country, or entity that would warrant discussions of imposing sanctions.’

It is thus clear that there is no international, let alone global, definition of the term ‘dark fleet’. In the absence of an internationally accepted description, journos have recently conjured up their own definition and are peddling it in every other news item. This is a maritime media creation which the mainstream western media has gladly lapped up as it suits their narrative.

It is a textbook example of how western media cooks up its own parameters, based on a one-sided viewpoint and weaponizes it to develop damaging narratives against target entities (mostly non-western) – all while maintaining a moral high ground.

In pop culture, the term dark fleet has origins in speculative fiction. These depictions are imaginative and creative in nature, existing within the realm of speculative storytelling. Some conspiracy theories suggest that a secret space program, known as the "dark fleet," exists beyond the public eye. It's important to note that these claims often lack concrete evidence and are not supported by credible sources.

ChatGPT states that ‘Claims and discussions about such a fleet should be approached with scepticism, particularly if they lack substantial evidence or are rooted in speculative and unverified sources. When encountering terms like "dark fleet," it's essential to exercise critical thinking and evaluate information based on credible sources, official statements, and well-established facts. Avoid falling into the trap of embracing narratives that lack substantiated evidence.’

Dark fleet spans the spectrum from creative fiction to unverified conspiracy theories. While it may capture the imagination, it's important to rely on credible sources and evidence when evaluating claims about real-world entities and events. As always, critical thinking and a commitment to seeking truth are essential tools in navigating discussions about concepts that lack widespread recognition or credible backing.

So, the next time you read about ‘dark fleet’ give a pause for thought.


About Author:

Santosh Patil

The author is currently AVP – Indian Register of Shipping and has close to 25 years’ experience in maritime and shipping industry. The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of his organisation.


Note: Captioned image source - https://www.rawpixel.com

You can share this post!

Submit News