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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic

November 13, 2020 Maritime Safety News

The COVID-19 pandemic has significant impacts on the shipping industry and on seafarers themselves, and IMO is working tirelessly at all levels to find solutions.

Travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world have created significant hurdles to crew changes and repatriation of seafarers, which has led to a growing humanitarian crisis as well as significant concerns for the safety of seafarers and shipping. IMO has intervened promptly by urging its Member States to designate seafarers as key workers, so they can travel between the ships that constitute their workplace, and their countries of residence.

Click to download the protocols, which set out general measures and procedures designed to ensure that ship crew changes can take place safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14  Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Seafarers have been collateral victims of the crisis, as travel restrictions have left tens of thousands of them stranded on ships, or unable to join ships. IMO has established a Seafarer Crisis Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) to help them out of a variety of critical situations.

IMO has published a number of press briefings on key issues related to the pandemic, including crew changes, repatriation of seafarers and meetings postponement:

Day of the Seafarer and other events

  • High-level event on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (24 September) on COVID-19 and Maritime Crew Changes: A humanitarian, safety, and economic crisis- read more here.
  • The annual Day of the Seafarer was celebrated on 25 June 2020. The theme of the campaign reflects the role of seafarers and the need for them to be declared “key workers” in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Webinar: “Seafarers are Key Workers: Essential to Shipping, Essential to the World” A webinar on the theme “Seafarers are key workers: Essential to shipping, essential to the world” was held. Panelists highglighted the ongoing need for repatriation of crew and made a plea to “Get our hero seafarers home”.  They welcomed the United Kingdom Government’s initiative in calling a global summit on the issue, but warned that real action from governments everywhere was needed to solve the crisis and get seafarers home and replaced.

Source: imo


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