The need for crew changeovers to take place is of the utmost urgency, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and shipping industry representatives agreed, during a virtual IMO-industry meeting hosted by IMO (30 April).
Many seafarers on board ships (and personnel in the offshore industry) have been on enforced extended contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions on travel making it difficult for crew to leave ships and for new crew to join ships. These extended stays on board could have significant repercussions for crew wellbeing as well as for ship operations, several NGOs said.
Representatives of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) highlighted their work in leading a call for “hub” airports and seaports to be established, so that crew changes could take place more easily. Work is ongoing with governments, port authorities, health authorities and others to develop protocols for crew changes and crew movements. ICS said they estimated that 150,000 seafarers were trapped at sea and needed to change over as soon as possible.