The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 104th session, 4-8 October 202, approved a draft IMO Assembly resolution consolidating issues related to crew change, access to medical care, ʺkey workerʺ designation and seafarers’ prioritization for COVID-19 vaccination, with a view to adoption at the 32nd session of the IMO Assembly (6-15 December 2021).
Seafarers are the backbone of the maritime sector. There are an estimated 1,647,500 seafarers serving on various ships globally. Off these, more than 770,000+ are officers and 870,000+ are ratings (non-officer rank).
In terms of ratings, Philippines is the biggest supplier of ratings, followed by China, Indonesia, Russia and Ukraine whereas China is the biggest supplier of officers, followed by the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Russia.
India as the 3rd largest supplier of seafarers in the rank of officers accounts for around 9.35% of the global seafarer population. This makes India a popular destination for crew signing on and off.
While the 2nd wave of COVID-19 continues its onslaught on India in the recent weeks, seafarers who have recently visited India may find themselves in a bit of a pickle especially if their shipping route involves Singapore and they were planning to sign on to the ship at Singapore.
Crew change crisis is far from over and issues around vaccination need to be resolved. The crew change crisis caused by COVID-19 restrictions continues to cause challenges, despite some improvement … Read more here..
It is very disheartening to see that commercial and business travelers are allowed to travel all over the world using the same planes and airports, but seafarers are not allowed to do so.. That is pure discrimination and gross violation of human rights..!!
Spare a thought for these brave souls as they wait in anticipation just to get home after working non-stop for months, some even after their contracts have expired and without pay………….
Will declarations like the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change make a difference unless all Governments actually do what is humane and necessary..??
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has spoken out against “no crew change” clauses in charterparties, pointing out that such clauses exacerbate the dire situation of stranded seafarers and undermine the efforts undertaken to resolve the ongoing crew change crisis.
So-called “no crew change” clauses, which are demanded by certain charterers, state that no crew changes can occur whilst the charterer’s cargo is onboard – hence not allowing the ship to deviate to ports where crew changes could take place.
The United Nations General Assembly has called on UN Member States to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers and to implement relevant measures to allow stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships, and to ensure access to medical care.
IMO has issued updated protocols to ensure safe crew change during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Framework of Protocols was first issued on 5 May 2020 and has now been revised, with the principle purpose of emphasizing the need for compliance and strict adherence with COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements, reflecting that these are now a reality in many national jurisdictions.
Passenger and repatriation flights are essential to allow stranded seafarers to go home, and for their relief crews to be able to join ships. New guidance issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to facilitate those flights marks a further step to alleviate the ongoing crew change crisis.
Some 400,000 seafarers from across the globe are now stranded on ships, continuing to work but unable to be relieved, in a deepening crew change crisis which threatens trade and maritime safety.
During a high-level event on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (24 September), Captain Hedi Marzougui, who was in command of a vessel between December 2019 and May 2020, appealed to Governments to act to allow seafarers to come home.
It is alarming when news of suicide attempts, violence and desperation becomes commonplace.
This is, unfortunately, the state of affairs today with seafarers who are tired, on the brink of mental breakdowns (some have already gone over) and very desperate – this desperation is manifesting through various incidents.
Priyanka Ann Saini covers some of these points in this article.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the commitment of 12 countries to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers, following a virtual ministerial summit hosted by the UK Government on 9 July.
This step represents significant progress to help resolve a growing crisis facing the maritime industry, and enable hundreds of thousands of stranded seafarers to go home or join ships.
If getting seafarers off these ships causes chaos in supply chains, if ports back up from Singapore to San Francisco, and if this causes ship insurance providers to pull their coverage and global trade to grind to a halt; then that is on the heads of politicians, not the world’s seafarers.
This is the message from Steve Cotton General Secretary of ITF reiterating that Seafarers have done their part in this COVID-19 pandemic, and plenty more. Enough is enough, it is time to go home now.
“The restrictions for crew change due to COVID-19 is unsustainable for the safety and wellbeing of over 150,000 seafarers who will require international flights to be changed over to and from the ships they work on from the middle of June 2020. These seafarers are having to extend their service onboard ships after many months at sea, unable to be replaced or repatriated after long tours of duty.”
This is the message from The Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) who issued a joint statement to enlist the support of Governments for the facilitation of crew changes in ports and airports in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.