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Crew Changes: An Urgent Issue

Following my previous article “The world needs seafarers” (https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/the-world-needs-seafarers/) today I would like to talk about one more significant issue that is of major concern to every seafarer, may it be the ones at sea or the ones on land, it is crew change. When airports will open their doors to all passengers including seafarers?

By each passing day, thousands of seafarers are finishing their contracts and even more are over due to fly back home. Waiting each day with uncertainty the letter with flight details from crewing companies can surely be very stressful. Unfortunately, the maritime sector is so vast and widespread that it will take an enormous amount of detailed planning and perfect execution of the said plan to carry out a swift and safe crew change. Today I would like to share this website https://www.iss-shipping.com/pages/coronavirus-port-country-implications which provides up to date status of different airports and crew change information which is collected from local sources. We all know that situation with COVID-19 is complex and constantly changing, which pose great difficulties for crew change in ports.

“The current situation risks the safety and mental wellbeing of seafarers. While the continued inability to rotate seafarers on and off ships poses a serious threat to the ability of ships to deliver vital cargo at a time when countries need it most,” the ICS stated.

Mr Roger Harris stated that the calls received by ISWAN helpline has increased by many folds due to COVID-19 and concerns mostly regarding repatriation, financial and mental issues. Particularly, in the last couple of weeks there have been over 1500 applications to ISWAN’s Hardship Fund in the Philippines. Funders have been generous in providing more resources to the Seafarers Emergency Fund.

However, over the next few months more financial support needs to be made available by national governments to seafarers who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted. In my opinion, COVID-19 has shook the world’s outlook to hygiene and medical care to the very roots and it will take tremendous effort and determination to keep seafarers safe and healthy as they are the vital organ of maritime trade.
Source: By Daria Omelchenko, An alumni of the IMO International Maritime Law Institute in Malta.

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