Joining some 700 companies and organisations, US-based offshore support vessel (OSV) owner SEACOR Marine Holdings Inc has signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change
This initiative from the Global Maritime Forum recognises the shared responsibility to ensure the crew-change crisis, brought about by the current pandemic situation, is resolved as soon as possible and to use the learnings from the crisis as an opportunity to build a more resilient maritime supply chain.
SEACOR Marine joins a broad coalition of maritime stakeholders, including Tidewater Marine, ISOA, IMCA, Excelerate Energy, WSM, Wallem, The Thome Group, CMA CGM, Maersk, the UK Chamber of Shipping and the Liberian Registry in signing the Neptune Declaration.
The four main elements of the Neptune Declaration are recognising seafarers as ‘key workers’ and providing them with priority access to Covid-19 vaccines; establishing and implementing ‘gold standard’ health protocols based on existing best practice; increasing collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes; and air transport between key maritime hubs for seafarers.
“Seafarers are the front-liners of the maritime industry, said SEACOR Marine. “Fatigue after extended periods at sea has significant consequences on the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers, increasing the risk of maritime incidents and environmental disasters. SEACOR Marine strongly supports implementing high-quality health and crew-change protocols to avoid these risks,” said the OSV owner in a press statement.
More than 90% of global trade is carried by the maritime industry. Seafarers have been critical in keeping food, clothing, consumer products, equipment, energy and medicines – including the Covid-19 vaccines themselves – flowing during the pandemic, despite the hurdles created by crew-change restrictions resulting from countrywide lockdowns and disruptions on international air travel.
In particular, the Neptune Declaration notes “shipowners and charterers should share relevant information transparently and collaborate to ensure that necessary crew changes can be carried out with the least impact possible in terms of cost and delays. The owner should provide the charterer with as much notice as possible on intended crew changes, while the charterer should make all reasonable efforts to accommodate crew changes including when the vessel has to make a reasonable deviation. No charter contracts should contain clauses preventing necessary crew changes from being carried out, as the aggregate effect of such clauses could be a serious obstacle to the safe operation of maritime trade and the protection of the wellbeing and rights of seafarers. By implementing high-quality health protocols, shipowners can reduce the risk of trade disruption due to Covid-19, which also creates benefits to charterers. These benefits should be reflected in chartering decisions to create incentives for shipowners to implement high-quality health protocols and be transparent about actions taken as well as costs incurred.”
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