The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is encouraging ships around the world to sound their horns when in port at 12.00 local time on 8th July to remind Governments of the ongoing crew change crisis.
The action comes ahead of a critical summit meeting led by the UK Government on the 9th July to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on crew changes and on the day leaders meet for the ILO Global Summit.
Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of shipping said:
“Globally there are now 400,000 seafarers who are either stranded at sea and have overrun their contracts or are at shore waiting to start their tours of duty.
The 8th July is a perfect moment to remind those politicians who are meeting to consider the impact of COVID-19 to classify these unsung heroes of global trade as key workers and to instigate seafarer air-bridges to enable safe travel.”
Seafarers are still not yet classified as Key Workers in many countries, meaning they are unable to embark or disembark ships due to national travel restrictions. This has led to a crisis at sea: there are 200,000 workers who have overrun their contracts and are currently stranded on ships. Another 200,000 are at shore, waiting to start their tours of duty.
Without crew to replace seafarers on board ships many may be unable to sail. Ships facilitate 90% of global trade and an inability to facilitate crew change has the potential to cause a logjam to supply chains that have proven so resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This unsustainable situation has a clear solution: a regulator-approved 12-step crew change road map. While the shipping community has been hard at work, many national governments have dragged their heels. Still, far too few allow crew change.
Speaking on the need to adopt the 12-step protocols Guy Platten stated:
“The solutions do not need money or complicated negotiations. Governments must now implement these protocols. If bureaucracy continues to get in the way, what has already become a humanitarian crisis at sea, and what is fast becoming an economic one, will lead to severe consequences for an already overstretched global economy. The time for political leadership is now.”
Reflecting on the Heroes at Sea Shoutout campaign that took place on 1st May Guy Platten added:
“From today, we are encouraging ships across the world to replicate the Heroes at Sea Shoutout and sound their horns at 12 noon local time to ensure that governments cannot say they have not heard the calls to solve the crew change crisis.
“Seafarers have gone the extra mile, extending their tours of duty, and have kept working to keep us all supplied. The shipping industry has done its homework with things like the 12-step protocols.
“The fact we are over 4 months down the line, and we have 400,000 seafarers in need of crew change is completely unsustainable. We cannot take these heroes of global trade for granted anymore.”
The 12-step plan entitled “Recommended Framework of Protocols for Ensuring Safe Ship Crew Changes and Travel during the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”, as circulated by IMO, can be found on the IMO website here.