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ICS to Governments: Solve crew-change crisis or risk functioning of supply chains

29 Jun 2020

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) on Friday (26 June) released an urgent statement for governments to address the crew-change crisis affecting 400,000 seafarers who are currently stuck on ships or at ports.

ICS is encouraging ships around the world to sound their horns when in port at 1200 hrs GMT to remind Governments of the ongoing crew change crisis, it said.

The action comes ahead of a critical summit meeting led by the UK Government to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on crew changes. 

“We are pleased to be working with the British government on a ministerial summit, and I am grateful to Minister Tolhurst for her leadership,” said the International Chamber of shipping Secretary General Guy Platten.

“However, this cannot be a summit that agrees to work hard on the issue. This must be a meeting that delivers solutions for our heroes at sea.”

He added that seafarers are still not yet classified as Key Workers in many countries, meaning they are unable to embark or disembark ships due to national travel restrictions.  

An official statement indicated there are 200,000 workers who have overrun their contracts and are currently stranded on ships. Another 200,000 are at shore, waiting to start their tours of duty.  

Platten warned that without crew to replace seafarers on board ships many may be unable to sail. Ships facilitate 90% of global trade and an inability to facilitate crew change has the potential to cause a logjam to supply chains that have proven so resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This unsustainable situation has a clear solution: a regulator-approved 12-step crew change road map. While the shipping community has been hard at work, many national governments have dragged their heels. Still, far too few allow crew change, he concluded. 

“The solutions do not need money or complicated negotiations. Governments must now implement these protocols,” urged Platten.

“If bureaucracy continues to get in the way, what has already become a humanitarian crisis at sea, and what is fast becoming an economic one, will lead to severe consequences for an already overstretched global economy. The time for political leadership is now.”

Photo credit: Mannifold Times
Published: 29 June 2020

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