UK P&I highlighted the situation in which many seafarers find themselves several months into a pandemic as part of the UK’s Seafarers’ Awareness Week
UK P&I crew health director Sophia Bullard called for more recognition for seafarers. “This year, more than ever, we should be grateful for the tireless efforts of seafarers who are working under extremely strenuous circumstances, keeping global supply chains open and delivering vital medical supplies and essential PPE.”
The pandemic has resulted in a severe lack of crew changes and anxieties around contract expiry. Crew have been left stranded on vessels, suffered losses of income or been unable to travel home when crew changes were possible.
Ms Bullard said seafarers have helped keep the shipping industry afloat and the flow of goods steady. “From an industry viewpoint, we must ensure these unsung heroes are provided with the necessary support structures. To the maritime sector’s credit, crew welfare resources have steadily improved in recent years, and even in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Companies have announced plans to improve welfare measures aboard ships, and to improve communications for crew members.
Ms Bullard said “We are witnessing various new initiatives and projects from our maritime partners, including Sailors Society, ISWAN, Marlins and The Mission to Seafarers, which include a wellness app, counselling support via an emergency Covid-19 helpline, online training on stress management, personal resilience e-learning resources and a financial literacy programme. The immediate focus of the Crew Health team at UK P&I Club is to assist our members and their crew by providing knowledge, guidance and a resource hub for all things related to crew health, welfare and wellbeing.”
In late March, IMO issued a circular suggesting governments designate professional seafarers and marine personnel, regardless of nationality, as ‘key workers’ providing an essential service to help remove barriers to seafarers’ documentation and lift national travel restrictions and make repatriation possible. At present it is estimated that up to 200,000 seafarers are stranded.
Readers can find more information on Seafarers Awareness Week here
Get the latest information and viewpoints on maritime issues during Riviera Maritime Media’s series of webinar weeks on key technical subjects in shipping