ship crew general

IMO launches plan to repatriate stranded seafarers

The International Maritime Organization has drawn up a roadmap to help countries implement procedures to relieve ship crews. Worldwide, tens of thousands of seafarers are stuck on board because they are unable to disembark or fly home due to strict coronary measures.

The 55-page 12-step plan was drawn up by a broad coalition of international shipowners’ associations and shipping organisations. The book provides governments with a blueprint to facilitate crew changes and ship crew repatriation. The protocols lay down the responsibilities of governments, shipowners, carriers and seafarers.

In two weeks’ time, some 150,000 seafarers worldwide need to be relieved in order to comply with international maritime regulations on working conditions according to the IMO. Tens of thousands of them are currently stuck on board due to travel restrictions.

Safety at stake

Apart from the need for shipping companies to comply with international rules and contractual obligations, employment contracts cannot be extended indefinitely without impacting the health and welfare of ship’s crew and ultimately on the safety of ship operations.

‘The problem is simple, but the solution is complex. So we have taken our responsibility, drawn up protocols and are now working with governments to implement them’, says Guy Platten, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

Accidents on board

Platten: ‘If we can’t free our seafarers from their covid-19 blockade, this will be a huge disruption to trade and, more importantly, the risk of accidents and psychological problems on board will increase. Postponement is no longer an option.’

Read the 12-step plan here.

This article was first published (in Dutch) on Nieuwsblad Transport, which is also published by SWZ|Maritime’s publishing partner Promedia.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.