News Bulletin – 12 December 2020

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1. IMO urges key worker designation for seafarers, end plight of 400,000 stranded.

11 Dec 2020 : The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has urged governments to designate seafarers as key workers so the estimated 400,000 stranded on ships can return home.

On Human Rights Day, the IMO said on Thursday the fundamental rights of seafarers are not being met as travel restrictions implemented during the pandemic have kept many stranded beyond the end of their contracts. By designating them as key workers, governments would allow them to have priorities for safe travel, transit, and vaccination, using recommended crew change protocols.

According to the IMO, some seafarers have been working at sea for over 18 months, well beyond the 11-month limit set out in the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) that regulates the sector. The IMO said also that another “similar number” of seafarers have been unable to leave their home and join ships, enduring financial difficulties.

2. Seafarer morale tops list of growing safety concerns.

11 Dec 2020 : In Tanker Operator’s reader survey of the biggest growing safety concerns, “crew morale” proved to be by far the biggest. Tanker Operator surveyed our readers to find out what areas of tanker operation are you more concerned in terms safety than a year ago. The biggest concern by far was crew morale.

Respondents were invited to tick as many boxes as they like for issues they thought were an increasing concern. 89 per cent ticked “crew morale”. 28 per cent ticked navigation, 26 per cent piracy, 15 per cent work in enclosed spaces, and 28 per cent the increasing complexity of managing propulsion with new fuel rules. When asked to elaborate further about their safety concerns, a crew member from Mumbai said, “no one cares for the seafarers actually.“

3. Seafarers Are Key Workers: It’s “All Hands on Deck” @ WMU to Solve the Seafarer Crisis.

10 Dec 2020 : Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President, World Maritime University, discussed the ongoing seafarer crisis plus the new report from WMU, A Culture of Adjustment, which outlines systemic failures in the implementation of the regulatory regime for seafarers’ work and rest hours.

Search as you like, but you will be hard-pressed to find anyone as passionate about all matters surrounding maritime and seafarers than Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry. Prior to taking the helm as president of the World Maritime University (WMU) six years ago, she served as the Director of the International Labor Standards Department of the International Labor Office (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, responsible for developing the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006.

That makes the current COVID-19 induced seafarer crisis even more topical and personal, as nearly half a million seafarers remain stranded at sea, far beyond the expiration of their contracts, with no global consensus to allow for efficient maritime crew changes and transfers.

4. Wages of Indian seafarers revised upwards by up to 40 pc.

10 Dec 2020 : Wages of Indian seafarers have been revised upwards by up to 40 per cent retrospectively from January this year, following signing of a pact between the Indian National Shipowners” Association (INSA) and seafarers bodies NUSI and FSUI, a release said on Wednesday.

The wage agreement signed on December 7 under the aegis of the 47th National Maritime Board (India) will remain in effect till December 31, 2023, and will benefit over 50,000 ratings and petty officers serving on Indian ships of foreign-going, home trade, offshore vessels and harbour tugs, it said.

For the first time, a new agreement has been reached for seamen”s at harbour tugs as well as part of the 47th National Maritime Board (India), according to the release. The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) and the Forward Seafarers Union of India (FSUI) are the two representative bodies of the seafarers in the country, while INSA has 36 members on its platform.

5. Wartsila delivers LNG crew training simulator system for Anglo-Eastern.

10 Dec 2020 : This is a new product for the marine market – a result of the increased adoption of LNG fuel by fleet owners and the consequential need to ensure crews are sufficiently trained in operating LNG-fuelled vessels. The order was placed in June 2020 and the project was completed in October 2020.

This voyage simulator is based on Wartsila’s gas valve unit and LNGPac fuel storage, supply and control system technologies, and includes all auxiliary systems needed in connection with the LNG fuel supply.

The system has been tailored to meet the specific requirements of Anglo-Eastern, complying with the International Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for training seafarers on gas-fuelled ships, in line with the standards demanded by the IGF Code. The Wärtsilä scope includes a full mission liquid cargo handling simulator that replicates a real ship system, an LNG bunkering and fuel gas supply simulator, and a full mission engineroom simulator.

6. 21 Indonesian seafarers stranded in Peru return home.

9 Dec 2020 : Twenty-one Indonesian seafarers stranded in Peru for three months were repatriated over the weekend, the Indonesian Embassy in Lima has announced, amid difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic that have put many livelihoods at stake.

Indonesian Ambassador to Peru Marina Estella Anwar Bey said in a statement that the men had arrived in Jakarta on Saturday on connecting flights via Brazil and Qatar. They took the Lima–Sao Paulo–Doha–Jakarta route home.

“The 21 crewmen worked aboard three separate ships, namely Cosario I, Pescamaro I and Pescamaro VI,” Marina said on Tuesday, as quoted by The men had been staying at the embassy in Lima since September after the shipowners employing their services ran into financial troubles because of the pandemic.

7. Crew Changes and Abandonment top Busy IMO Legal Committee Agenda.

9 Dec 2020 : At this week’s meeting, the Legal Committee reiterated concerns about the abandonment of seafarers. This remains a very serious issue, despite the 2017 amendments to the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006 relating to crew claims and abandonment.

The Committee urged member states to take all necessary action to reduce the number of abandonment cases, in particular those exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also decided that guidelines should be developed for flag and port state authorities on how to deal with seafarer abandonment cases.

The Committee was informed about the work of the Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) set up by the IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim, in response to the crew change crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. SCAT focuses on four major lines of effort, including individual cases, policy development, bilateral and multilateral engagement, and building awareness. BIMCO took the opportunity to inform the Committee about the COVID-19 crew change clause for time charter parties published in June.

8. Labor Group Seeks Help for Hundreds of Thousands of Seafarers Stranded by COVID.

9 Dec 2020 : Hundreds of thousands of seafarers around the world are stranded at sea due to coronavirus travel restrictions, unable to go home or get medical care, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Tuesday, calling on nations to address their plight.

Many shipping and transport workers have been at sea as long as 17 months or longer, as COVID-19-related restrictions make it almost impossible to rotate crews, the United Nations’ labor agency said. The ILO adopted a resolution asking nations to take action by providing medical care to seafarers in need, waiving visa or documentation requirements and designating seafarers as key workers who are allowed to go home.

The problems faced by seafarers resulting from efforts to contain the virus have lasted unacceptably long,” said ILO Director General Guy Ryder in a statement.

9. India: 4 seafarers stranded on tugboats battle it out for survival.

8 Dec 2020 : Four seafarers working with a Navi-Mumbai-based company TAG, have been living in deplorable conditions on-board two tugboats – TAG Rajvir and TAG Laxmi – since May last year when the company became bankrupt.

Though their contracts expired in June 2019, they can’t leave the boats, stationed at jetty number 22 of Indira Dock, as the matter is sub-judice before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The NCLT has made BKC-based company Duff and Phelps the in-charge of the assets to look after the tender, maintain the boats and sell them off.

Earlier there were 10 employees on each tugboat, which are used for berthing and unberthing vessels at the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT). Though the captain, chief officer, chief engineer, second engineer and others could sign off, the seafarers — Shahabaz Khan, 23; Dipankar Vishwas, 25; Jwala Singh Patel, 27; and Manas Hait, 29, were asked to stay back to man the tugboats till the liquidation process was over and auction was held.

10. IMO welcomes UN resolution on Keyworker Seafarers.

8 Dec 2020 : UN General Assembly Resolution calls for seafarer key worker designation and implementation of crew change protocols; IMO Secretary-General urges priority vaccination.

The United Nations General Assembly has called on UN Member States to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers and to implement relevant measures to allow stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships, and to ensure access to medical care.

In a resolution on International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to support global supply chains, adopted on 1 December, the United Nations recognizes the need for an urgent and concrete response from all stakeholders, including the private sector, to resolve the situation of seafarers stranded at sea and/or unable to join ships because of national travel restrictions introduced across the globe as a result of the pandemic.

11. Vaccine Offers Seafarers Hope In 2021.

8 Dec 2020 : Looking towards 2021, Sophia Bullard, Crew Welfare Director at UK P&I Club, eagerly anticipates the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine and calls for more gender diversity at sea:

2020 has been an extremely difficult year for seafarers, with Covid-19 bringing mass disruption and uncertainty, resulting in huge numbers of crew being stranded at sea and suffering loss of income. But, the tantalising promise of the roll out of vaccine programmes in 2021, as well as the increasing focus on crew mental health and wellbeing, brings hope.

Once the vaccines have passed the scrutiny of the various government regulatory agencies, we will see them filter into the workforce. Seafarers, as identified key workers and a vital cog in the global trade mechanism, should be near the front of the queue. Mass vaccination will make global shipping operations more efficient and cost effective, and will significantly ease the current freedom of movement restrictions on seafarers.

12. Amar Chitra Katha launches new comic series on naval and maritime heritage of India.

7 Dec 2020 : A comic book series chronicling India’s maritime heritage was launched by Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar on the occasion of Navy Day, officials said on Friday.

First of the three-book comic series chronicling India’s maritime heritage launched on the occasion of Navy Day. The series, being published in collaboration with Amar Chitra Katha celebrates the glorious naval and maritime heritage of India,” the Navy spokesperson tweeted.

The Navy spokesperson, in the following tweet, informed that the comic book released today tells the story of our nautical past, while the upcoming book two and three will showcase the transformation of the Indian Navy since the Independence.

Book one tells the story of our nautical past. Book two and three will showcase the transformation of the Indian Navy since Independence, lives of men and women in whites, key operations and naval heroes,” the spokesperson added.

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