Mitigating the risk of quarantine and COVID-19 testing for seafarers

COVID-19 South Africa

By now, everyone is aware of the plight of the thousands of seafarers around the world who are either stuck onboard ships even after their contract has expired or stuck in countries other than their own due to COVID-19 or in quarantine currently.. It has even resulted in several suicides among seafarers out of sheer desperation..

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it incredibly difficult to facilitate crew changes on ships and despite collaboration and cooperation with many stakeholders in the industry, this problem still remains unresolved and there are still around 200,000 odd seafarers estimated to be trapped on board..

While it is becoming a huge task for any shipowner/manager to get replacement crew, the International Medical Health Association have created an interim paper providing a best practice approach based on common sense to mitigate the risk of transmission of Covid-19 in seafarers joining the ship..

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Suicides, assaults and pleas for help as crew change crisis worsens

News - Shipping and Freight Resource

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.

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Governments pledge action for seafarers at crucial crew change summit

seafarers

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.

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IMO endorses guidance on ensuring seafarers’ access to medical care onshore

shipping and freight news - shipping and freight resource

A significant step has been made to protect seafarers’ health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim’s endorsement of a series of recommendations designed to ensure seafarers can access medical care ashore quickly and safely.

Receiving medical care ashore can be a matter of life or death for seafarers who fall ill while working on ships.

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Seafarers as Key Workers, but more importantly, Human Beings

day of the seafarer

On International Day of the Seafarer, while it is imperative to designate seafarers as key workers, it is equally, if not more important, to recognise them as human beings with real needs.

Here is a touching tribute to the trials and tribulations that the seafarers go through on a day to day basis..

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Seafarers say enough is enough – ready to down tools

seafarers crew change

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.

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The feel of the ship – Have you felt it..??

Opinion Piece

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..

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UN Agencies issue plea to Governments for facilitation of crew changes

Press Release - Shipping and Freight Resource

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.

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IMO, ITF and ILO driven intervention helps save seafarer’s life

shipping and freight news - shipping and freight resource

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).

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Protocols for safe crew change and travel during COVID-19 released

shipping and freight news - shipping and freight resource

We have read many articles, extolling the virtues of Seafarers who are considered the backbone of the shipping industry and how they are important to the industry etc etc.

However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, these Seafarers are facing significant challenges with extended service on board, unable to go ashore for a bit of fresh air after many months at sea, unable to be relieved of their duties and go home to be with their loved ones etc.

This is despite international maritime compliance regulations which require Seafarers to be changed on a regular basis from ships they work in to ensure safety, crew health, welfare, and the prevention of fatigue.

There have been calls from many quarters for appropriate action to be taken to address these issues faced by Seafarers.

It seems that these calls may have been heard.

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Seafarers – We Need You, We Hear You, We Support You!

Imagine leaving your loved ones, boarding a ship (for what you thought was a specified time) and now, not knowing when you will be able to return.

This is the plight of thousands of seafarers the world over, who are working on ships so that you can get everything you need – food, medicines, supplies, provisions, etc.

Everything you see around you has (in all probability), at some point, traversed by sea and made its way to you.

The invisible workforce that makes your life comfortable and convenient are the more than 1.6 million seafarers around the world operating to keep the supply lines moving and alive.

Today on Labour Day, we pay tribute to these brave souls, the backbone of the maritime industry.

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IMO calls for seafarers to be designated as “key workers” during COVID-19

Press Release - Shipping and Freight Resource

Ships and ports need to remain fully operational in order to maintain complete functionality of supply chains..

Governments and their relevant national authorities should therefore engage with appropriate stakeholders within their national shipping and ports sectors to discuss arrangements for the continued facilitation of international maritime trade, including port hinterland connections..

This is one of the recommendations of the IMO alongwith recommendations that seafarers be designated as “key workers providing essential services” during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing them exemptions from national travel or movement restrictions in order to facilitate their joining or leaving ships..

Is your country already following or about to follow this especially when you are under lockdown with COVID-19..?? Let’s take a quick survey shall we..??

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Importance of seafarers in our lives and how Sailors Society is helping them

Look around you. Your phone, your computer, your cup of coffee: 90% of everything you use comes by sea, transported by an often-invisible workforce of 1.6 million seafarers.

Without them, we would miss most of the things we rely on every day.

To bring those things to us, seafarers in turn miss many of the things we take for granted.Life at sea can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it’s not without its challenges.

Sailors’ Society helps seafarers and families cope with their stressful lives..

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