The APL England, a 5,780 TEU capacity containership which lost around 40 containers off the coast of New South Wales in Australia has been detained in Brisbane by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) since the 26th May..
After AMSA inspectors were satisfied that the ship was fit to sail, the empty APL England was released on 19th of June and allowed to sail from Australia to undertake repairs in China..
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.
Ballast Water Treaty is an important international treaty which helps prevent the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species by ships.. This treaty got a major boost following China’s extension of the treaty to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Ships flagged to Hong Kong, China – the fourth largest flag Administration in the world by shipping tonnage – will now be required to apply the requirements of the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM).. This mean that this treaty now covers more than 90% of shipping worldwide..
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).
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.
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect and disrupt industries, jobs, lives, and economies around the world, there also seems to be a good fightback from the various industries, governments, and organisations.
Shipping lines have been offering time-sensitive cost-saving options for COVID-19 along with some relief in demurrage and detention charges etc.. Governments have been given tax breaks and business rescue packages to those most affected.
Now it seems to be the turn of the two main canals that serve the shipping and freight industry – the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal.
These canals save shipowners costs in terms of the transit, in terms of fuel costs, and also assists in reducing the carbon footprint of the transiting ships but of course both these canals have toll charges for the transit of ships.