1. IMO steps up campaign to solve crew crisis.
3 July 2020 : The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the European Community Shipowners Association (ESCA) have urged national governments to find a solution to the continuing crew changeover crisis. In a statement, the IMO called upon politicians around the world to grant seafarers ‘key worker’ status and allow them to disembark from vessels at port and return to their families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to travel restrictions and strict border controls as countries have sought to stop the virus spreading. Consequently, many seafarers have had to remain on their vessels for far longer than their contracts legally allow, in some cases they have stayed at sea for over 18 months. In a webinar on 2020 Day of the Seafarer, IMO General-Secretary Kitack Lim said: “Seafarers’ work is unique and essential. Seafarers are on the front line in this global fight.
“They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during this pandemic, but at all times.” Throughout the pandemic the world has depended on seafarers and other supply chain workers to ensure safe delivery of essential goods, such as food and medical supplies. “Seafarers are the 2 million workers on whom the global trade depends, working on ships that carry more than 80% of global trade by volume,” said Martin Dorsman, the ECSA’s Secretary General. “They’ve fulfilled their part of their contract. Now, governments need to ensure that they are, in turn, respected.”
2. Philippines : PHL Green Lane offers seafarers quick relief.
3 July 2020 : FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. on Thursday led the unveiling of a Philippine Green Lane, described as a pioneering effort for providing timely humanitarian relief not only for Philippine seafarers but for all sailors of the world.
“And special thanks to all those who did the actual provision after detailed provision of this superb process,” Locsin added, during the signing ceremony of the Interagency Joint Circular on Green Lanes. He was joined by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, DILG Undersecretary Bernardo Florece, DOJ Assistant Secretary Nicholas Felix Ty, and DOH-Bureau of Quarantine representative Dr. Edgar Maala.
The Philippine Green Lanes facilitate the speedy and safe travel of seafarers, including their safe, swift disembarkation and crew change during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Locsin.
He added that “with this guidelines we are answering the call of the International Maritime Organization [IMO], and the maritime industry, to put in place a framework for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the Covid-19 pandemic and we are doing more.”
3. India : Seafarers must be given preference while returning home: GSAI.
3 July 2020 : The Goan Seamen Association of India (GSAI) has yet again reiterated the need for the government to consider seafarers as essential workers and to be given first preference in returning home. Till date more than 6,000 seafarers have already returned to the state while around 2,000 are yet to return.
GSAI president Frank Viegas said, “As the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions put in place are still a worry to those who are still stranded and unable to get included in the Vande Bharat mission, we urge the government of India to consider seafarers as essential workers and must be given first preference. Starting some commercial flights from some destinations can ease the burden and pain which the seafarers are facing”.
He added that industry bodies including the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and Joint Negotiating Group, as well as the UN Secretary General, the ILO and IMO are in agreement with the International Transport Workers’ Federation, that at the end of their contracts, seafarers are fatigued physically and/or mentally and are not fit to safely perform their duties adding that repatriation and replacement is the only responsible course of action.
4. Philippines : SAN Miguel Corporation comes to the rescue of stranded seafarers.
2 July 2020 : SAN Miguel Corporation (SMC) now turns its focus to extending help to maritime workers who have been stranded and currently camping out at the Manila North Harbor as they await clearance of returning to their provinces.
The firm will be providing free meals three times a day and financial assistance from its feeding center and food bank in nearby Tondo. SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said that since June 29, volunteers at its Better World Tondo (BWT) have been preparing and delivering hot meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to the stranded seamen.
“When we learned of their plight, of having to stay and sleep at the seaport as they wait to return home, we immediately alerted our people at our Better World Tondo, our feeding and learning center there, which also operates as a food bank. We already serve daily meals and provide grocery packs to the local community, so helping out the seafarers was the natural thing to do,” Ang explained.
5. IMO: Governments Must Act To Bring Seafarers Home.
1 July 2020 : Governments have the power to solve a growing humanitarian crisis and must take action to bring seafarers home and allow their relief crews to join ships. “Get our hero seafarers home” was the plea from panelists during a webinar (26 June) hosted by IMO on the occasion of the Day of the Seafarer.
IMO, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) urged countries to implement protocols on safe crew change developed by the maritime industry and circulated by IMO. The 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign has highlighted the essential role of seafarers on the frontline of the global supply chain, while urging Governments to grant them key worker status so they are able to travel and transit to and from ships.
Hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stranded on ships and desperate to go home. In many cases, their contracts have been extended for several months beyond the maximum time at sea permitted under international regulations. In his opening remarks, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: “Seafarers’ work is unique and essential. Seafarers are on the front line in this global fight. They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during this pandemic, but at all times.”
6. Philippine Church offers moral support to seafarers.
1 July 2020 : The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has urged Filipino seafarers to reach out, communicate and stay on course as the Philippines continues its fight with an economic recession.
In a pastoral letter issued for International Day of the Seafarer on June 25, the CBCP said the Church recognized their struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic. The bishops also reminded them to have faith and courage in God and in themselves.
“These lockdown, quarantines and closing of companies are added storms to our earthly journey. But remember, even if the waves are big and the winds are so strong, we have to raise our sail and keep our hands on deck,” said the bishops. The prelates also told seafarers of the ups and downs of life and of the determination and perseverance needed to reach port, the end of the journey.
7. Ghana Maritime Authority boss solicits govt support for seafarers.
30 June 2020 : The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has marked this year’s International Day of the Seafarers with a call on government to provide seafarers with quick and decisive humanitarian action not just during this pandemic, but at all times.
The authority is focused on paying tribute to seafarers and acknowledging their sacrifices and the issues they face during this COVID-19 pandemic. It, therefore, called on everyone, including government, to equally recognise seafarers for their ability to deliver vital goods which are essential in responding to measures aimed at overcoming this pandemic.
This year’s celebration was on the theme ‘Seafarers are key workers: Essential to shipping, essential to the world’. June 25 marks the annual day of the seafarer, which was established by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) with the main purpose of recognising the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole. The Ghana Maritime Authority, therefore, celebrated the day to promote and recognise the enormous contribution of the seafarer, whose occupation is on board a ship at sea.
8. India : Norwegian Escape cruise ship with 474 Goan seafarers docks at MPT.
30 June 2020 : Norwegian Escape, a cruise ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, arrived at the Mormugao Port (MPT) in Goa on Monday early morning with 474 seafarers who were stranded at Miami, Florida.
The ship crossed the Suez Canal on Saturday and reached Goa from where the vessel will head to Mumbai. The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic globally has restricted air travel for passengers owing to which Indian nationals who are stranded abroad have been facing difficulty in returning to their homes. The Government of India, either by sea or air travel routes, is undertaking initiatives to repatriate stranded nationals from all countries.
9. Ceyline charters UL flight to repatriate Indian seafarers.
30 June 2020 : Ceyline Group, chartered a SriLankan Airlines flight to Cochin to repatriate 120 Indian seafarers who had completed contracts and signed off from ships off the port of Galle. The A321 aircraft departed Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) carrying marine crew from seven International Ship Management companies.
This was the second SriLankan Airlines flight chartered by Ceyline. The first one was on June 20, where 50 Indian seafarers were brought to Sri Lanka from Cochin, to join ships off the Port of Galle. Since the COVID19 Pandemic has been successfully controlled in Sri Lanka it was able to come to the aid of the international shipping community by being a safe location for facilitating the change of ship’s crew, which is critical for the safe operation of ships. This crew change logistics generate income streams for the local Shipping Agency companies, the ancillary service providers as well as the healthcare and hospitality industries.
10. Philippines : Bulk carrier hit and run, 12 Filipino crew missing.
29 June 2020 : MB received a letter with an official statement of bulk carrier VIENNA WOOD N managing company, presenting their version of collision off Mindanao, Philippines. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised at all, because I have had my doubts in Philippines official narrative from the very beginning, doubts arising just from ship’s track analysis.
Time and positions of the track don’t corroborate Philippinese version, and now it is confirmed by managing company:
Vienna Wood N – collision in the Philippines
Late at night on Saturday, 27 June, our bulk carrier, Vienna Wood N collided with an object thought to be a fishing boat off the coast of Mindoro Island, Philippines. Vienna Wood N stopped and the crew conducted an emergency damage assessment. The collision was reported soon after to Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), Manila.
The crew inspected the damage sustained in order to ascertain if it compromised Vienna Wood N’s own safety and stability and then returned to the location of the collision to search for survivors. An overturned hull of what appeared to be a small vessel was spotted and reported to the Coast Guard, no survivors have been found.
11. 80,000 Filipino seafarers stranded in ships with lapsed contracts.
29 June 2020 : About 80,000 Filipino seafarers are stranded in ships worldwide, work contracts expired and unable to get home. Repatriation is overdue. The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down national borders. Flights to and from the Philippines severely are limited. They cannot just disembark at any port, lest they get grounded or face arrest in a strange land.
The seamen’s tenures lapsed in the past four months, according to industry records. International rules are for them to rest after nine months’ sea time. Physical and mental fatigue is setting in. Extended labor could prejudice their and vessels’ safety.
An equal number of replacements for the lapsed seamen can’t get to work either. Flights are rare too to international port cities where they can board ship. Job placements face cancellation due to inability to report on time. The most number of seafarers in the world, Filipinos might lose their decades-long competitive advantage.
“Inter-agency effort is needed,” says Arben Santos, experienced for 50 years in international shipping. “To get our seamen home and to send off fresh ones, our labor, transport and health officials must coordinate actions.” Signed-out seafarers must be identified and located, their flights home assured, and COVID-19 testing and quarantining streamlined. Same with those about to sign in as replacements.