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.
I am not a seafarer, but I have had the privilege of being onboard different types of ships when I was handling them operationally many years ago..
There is something about some of the ships that I have worked on that has given me a sense of comfort and made me feel at home like I belonged there..
I said “some” ships because some ships didn’t give me that feeling and gave me a sense of uneasiness and I have felt like wanting to get out of there ASAP..
Mind you, I am talking about the “ship” and not about the people onboard the ship..
Well, it turns out that not just me or the ship’s crew that have a connection with the ship, but also Marine Pilots have or get this “feel of the ship” which they are navigating in and out of ports and it is quite important for them to get the feel of the ship..
I found this out when I got talking to Capt.Roberto Caballero Vega a Panama Canal Pilot of over 25 years who very kindly allowed me to reproduce his article about “The feel of the ship: The essence of Piloting” below..
“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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put seafarers around the world in precarious situations. Travel restrictions mean some cannot leave their ships, be repatriated home, or even get urgent medical assistance. Other seafarers have seen their contracts unilaterally terminated or have been quarantined on board ships for more than 14 days, without getting paid.
A large number of seafarers, as well as their spouses and family members, have reached out to IMO to share their concerns about a variety of difficult situations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
IMO has established an internal team to help resolve individual cases, often working alongside other organizations like the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).