It is currently estimated that at least 200,000 seafarers worldwide are stranded on ships
Twelve countries have pledged to facilitate crew changes following a virtual international summit hosted by the UK Government, aimed at finding ways to enable stranded seafarers to return home or join ships.
It is currently estimated that at least 200,000 seafarers worldwide are stranded on ships and require immediate repatriation, while a similar number urgently need to join ships to replace them.
“We acknowledge, as a matter of urgent concern, that the inability of ship operators worldwide to conduct ship’s crew changes is the single most pressing maritime operational challenge,” said representatives of the 12 countries in a joint statement. “The health and wellbeing of seafarers is paramount and is inextricably linked to the continuing safety and efficiency of ship operations.”
The governments also encouraged all members of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to facilitate safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel and to implement the Protocols for Ensuring Safe Ship Crew Changes and Travel during the Covid-19 pandemic endorsed by the IMO in May.
“It is time to act for seafarers,” said Kitack Lim, secretary general of the IMO, in his opening remarks to the summit. “Safe ship operations and crew wellbeing should not be compromised. The humanitarian crisis seafarers face has implications for all of us, for the world economy, for the safety of life at sea and the environment.”
The statement was signed by representatives of the following countries: Denmark, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, UK and the USA.
The International Maritime Summit on Crew Changes was also attended by representatives from the International Labour Organization, the International Chamber of Shipping, the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
“This summit is a welcome show of political leadership at a time when seafarers across the world need it most,” said Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping. “Governments must now use this summit as a catalyst to implement with the solutions the shipping industry has provided, applying the political will needed to put them into practice. This issue doesn’t require money and did not need complicated negotiations. This summit is a catalyst for action.”
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