COVID-19 restrictions have made crew change operations extremely difficult, while measures have not been taken by the vessel owner to secure repatriation flights, with Nautilus commenting that costs are thought to be the key factor.
Nautilus strategic organiser, Martyn Gray, comments that
There has been a failure of government leadership across the world, a failure of companies unable to do the right thing because of cost and other pressures, and a failure of training providers to take enough responsibility for cadets.
On the other hand, Nautilus also presents a brighter picture for the industry, commenting that there have been multiple successes in supporting and assisting cadets to gain repatriation with the involvement of local MPs, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the International Transport Workers Federation.
Yet, they highlight the risks remaining, with a risk that the future pipeline of UK seafarers could be impacted due to the way that some of these issues have been handled.
Mr Gray has been dealing with a significant number of cadet members impacted by issues around repatriation and conditions on board as a result of Covid measures, as well as those who are unable to secure seatime.
I have had cases of cadets confined to their cabins for weeks on end and at times unable to access food or provisions, despite taking multiple negative Covid tests, because of the way that regulations are being applied. These are young professionals being put in conditions that would not be acceptable in prison.
Concluding, he highlighted the clear risk arising for the future pipeline of UK seafarers that could be seriously affected by the challenges arising by COVID-19 today.