In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the major restrictions that has brought, shipping industry is dealing with crew changes difficulties. Following the situation, the Union for maritime professionals, Nautilus International, urges the governments to act and enhance seafarers’ repatriation.
Due to government’s imposed travel bans, flights for seafarers to return back home or to travel to ports are now unavailable, while immigration and health screening protocols are also impeding crew changes.
Mark Dickinson, the General Secretary of Nautilus International posted a video on Twitter urging the governments to take an immediate action concerning seafarers’ repatriation. In fact, Mr. Dickinson noted:
“I’m taking a usual step of appealing directly the governments via social media. I want to get the seafarers home. We’ve got members, stuck at home unable to work. We’ve got seafarers working beyond their contracts for nine, ten, eleven months. Some of them might have been onboard over than 12 months. I went to see, a 24-hour delay in repatriation. This is a nightmare. We’ve got families we want to see, we want to get home, we want to rest, this is a safety issue which rapidly becomes a crisis. One hundred seafarers would be normally been changing over every month and we have extended their contracts for one, two, three months already. Governments come on, you have been repatriating your citizens, let’s get our seafarers home, let’s get the seafarers back on the ships so they can earn a living. Thank you governments, it’s really time to repatriate our seafarers now.”
Amid the crew changes difficulties, the European Commission launched recommendations for all vessels concerning transit and disembarking passengers and crew, proposing that Member States should, in coordination among themselves, designate several ports in the Union for fast-track crew changes.
Among others, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Shipping Alliance, INTERCARGO, Synergy Group have all called the governments to force a collective management of crew changes and solve this seafarer welfare crisis.