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 8 Jul to remind governments of the ongoing crew change crisis.
The action comes ahead of a critical summit meeting led by the UK Government on 9 Jul to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on crew changes. Also, on the same day, leaders are due to 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.”