A tanker captain posting anonymously on Twitter has revealed concerns about the welfare of his crew in a series of emotional posts about the crew change crisis. The posts, which were made on 23 October and 2 November, drew a significant amount of attention from seafarers and the wider maritime industry.
The 'SecretCaptain', who has previously blogged for Nautilus, found that many of his crew were significantly over their contract time when he joined his vessel, with some onboard for eleven months.
He explained that he had been 'fighting with ever changing rules & regs from the company and authorities to get one crew member home', but could not secure the repatriation of a further sixteen members of the crew.
He said that he 'had plans in place and now those plans are failing because company cannot find new crew members to join ship', and added 'nobody wants to come back onboard because they don’t know when they will get home again'.
The mental health impact of the ongoing situation was raised in the posts, with the captain stating that: 'I feel physically sick when grown adults cry in my cabin because they want to go home,' and arguing that 'the mental health impact of this will be with the industry for years to come'.
In addition to impact of the contract extensions, the captain revealed that the crew had not had any shore leave for over a year, compounding the mental health impact.
The captain also worried about the enhanced risk of accidents caused by the exhausted crew. He said: 'I worry about accidents because they are not focussed on what they are doing.'
Twitter users from across the world have sent messages of support to the captain and his crew, with more than 60 replies and comments being made. The posts have received 184 'retweets' and 245 'likes', meaning that they will have been viewed by thousands of people.
The mental health impact of this will be with the industry for years to come
23rd October Tweets
- For everything that has been said about #crewchange, we still can't get reliefs even when we go to ports where crew change is allowed. Lots of my crew are over their contracts and a number are over by more than 10 months
- I feel physically sick when grown adults cry in my cabin because they want to go home. I didn't sign up for this. None of us did
- Still fighting with ever changing rules & regs from the company and authorities to get one crew member home. He has done over 11 months onboard and nobody cares. I had to threaten ITF intervention before the process was allowed to start. This is happening all over the industry
- As well as issues with #CrewChange we have had no shore leave on here for over 12 months.
All these things may seem small, but they are important to us and our health and well-being.
Yes our mental health.
- Just left port where ship shore interaction was with one guy in a hazmat suit who looked like an extra from a disaster movie. All of this is getting me down
The mental health impact of this will be with the industry for years to come.
2nd November Tweets
- Hello, I am the captain of a large tanker.
I keep getting emotional.
Not sleeping properly. When I do sleep I wake up crying.
I have only been onboard a few weeks but some of my crew are onboard for 11 months.
- 16 crew are over their contract time. I cannot get them relieved.
Had plans in place and now those plans are failing because company cannot find new crew members to join ship.
Nobody wants to come back onboard because they don’t know when they will get home again.
- Everyone is tired and I worry for their safety.
I worry about accidents because they are not focused on what they are doing.
- I am giving them plenty of rest and spend lots of time talking with them. Some come to my cabin crying because they cant go home.
I just don’t know what to do.
- This is all so difficult. If anyone else is struggling, I would recommend that they speak with SeafarerHelp @iswan_org https://www.seafarerhelp.org/en/
- Please spread the word about the ongoing #CrewChangeCrisis
@SkyNews @BBCNews @LLEditorial @tradewindsnews @Reuters @Splash_247 @safety4sea @Channel4News @nautilusint @LloydsList @Lloydslisted @BBCPaulMurphy @robertcourts @JimfromOldham @timothy_mcd
Comments from other users
Hello @TheSecretCapt, thank you for sharing your story. We hope SeafarerHelp has provided some comfort and support for you and your crew during this incredibly difficult time. We will be here for you all whenever you need us.
Ben Bailey @MtSBenBailey
Hi @TheSecretCapt, @FlyingAngelNews has teams all over the world and we are socially distanced visiting and providing support. We can also deal direct with IMO and flag state to put pressure for repat. Feel free to DM me.
Mark W. Clark, Esq. @Coastguard
My deepest sympathies. Mental health on board is crucial to prevent accidents. Best wishes.
Penny Thomas @Pennythomas1
Thinking of you @TheSecretCapt and all #seafarers stuck in the #crewchangecrisis
ned molloy @NedMolloy
Ignoring the mental health of oil tanker captains is a seriously bad idea #CrewChangeCrisis #Seafarers
Gareth Hampton @gareth_hampton
This is so wrong. A solution to the #CrewChangeCrisis and support for stranded seafarers is needed urgently
Samira Nadkarni @SamiraNadkarni
Read this thread and understand what seafarers are experiencing as key workers in this pandemic. If you have the funds to spare, help @iswan_org support seafarer mental health because it's so necessary
Charlie H @charlieH1978
A sad reminder of the plight of seafarers, an industry that was struggling to get people prior to the pandemic has been let down at every level!
alex mcintosh @alexmcintosh84
Where do we start remembering about the human cost of the new normal. This is not normal they did not agree to it. Technically they are working from 'home' but they have homes with loved ones they miss. #stoptreatingthemlikecommodities #seafarershaverights #givethemtheirlivesback
Frank Scott @Franksquarerig
Out of sight & out of mind, Poor Jack & Poor Jill keep on going, totally unappreciated by people like our beloved leader. We are an island nation, but our leaders know & care nothing about our seafarers
Tom Duncan @Capn_Tom
Really feel for you. I retired and left my last ship in May, there were crew stuck on board for 10 months even then, many still on board, some on blood pressure medication struggling to source supply, it’s been a disgrace the way seafarers have been treated.