Accessibility.SkipToMainContent

Shipmasters caught up in the Covid-19 pandemic have made an urgent call to governments for crew changes to be allowed.

The International Federation of Shipmasters Associations (IFSMA) has become the latest body to urge government action on travel restrictions during the pandemic.

'It must be remembered that the pandemic is not Force Majeure, shipmasters and their crews remain subject to normal contractual conditions and in accordance with the ILO's Maritime Labour Convention,' IFSMA Secretary General Commodore Jim Scorer said in an open letter to Governments.

IFSMA has recieved increased reports from its member associations whose shipmasters are concerned for the welfare and safety of their crews, and themselves, and the increased level of risk with which they are operating in an already high-risk environment, said Mr Scorer.

'Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.'

IFSMA strongly urged all Governments to adopt the recently agreed recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic without any further delay to allow shipowners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.

'Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury and mental breakdown of seafarers and avoid the significantly increased risk of accidents and the consequential danger to life and damage to the environment.'

Today there are over 96,000 vessels and more than 1.65 million seafarers at sea around the world ensuring the movement of 95% of the world's trade, said IFSMA. 'Critical goods arrive where they are needed to supply our demanding populations. Most of these seafarers are serving at sea for between eight and 12 months, working for seven days and up to 91 hours each and every week.'

'ncreasing numbers of seafarers are several months over their contracted times and have been at sea for up to 15 months. Currently, it is estimated that there are in excess of 150,000 seafarers at sea, or in ports around the world that are in urgent need of being relieved by refreshed crew. This number will only increase week by week unless Governments act to allow crew changes to take place.'

Seafarers contracts vary in length across the industry, but the ILO's Maritime Labour Convention stipulates a minimum of 2.5 days holiday for each month served at sea which must be taken within any one year.

'Many of our seafarers are now suffering from fatigue, not only from the excessive length of time they have spent at sea, but also with the additional stress they are under from worrying about their family and relatives at home and the effect the pandemic is having on them – not all seafarers have access to the internet at sea and ports as pandemic regulations forbid seafarers accessing facilities ashore, even for acute medical emergency reasons.

'When errors are made on board ships it is often the shipmaster that is held responsible. Shipmasters have been forced into a situation which is not of their making and they feel pressurised to remain at sea for the safety of their crew. However, it is that very pressure and fatigue that is bearing down on them and that increases the risk of an accident occurring and significantly increases the risk of them being criminalised by the courts ashore and the loss of their livelihoods.'

A full copy of the letter is available to members at IFSMS Log.


Tags

More articles

Featured
Health and safety

Nautilus FAQs on Covid-19 Coronavirus

  • Telegraph
  • 03 April 2020
Members at work

Master Mariners speak out about Covid-19 concerns

  • Telegraph
  • 23 April 2020
International

ICS seeks real-time crew change data from ships masters

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is collecting information on the ability of ships to conduct crew changes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • News
  • 20 May 2020
Nautilus news

Union welcomes first meeting with shadow shipping minister

The UK shadow maritime minister has promised to support Nautilus raising vital concerns and issues in Parliament follow a meeting with the Union's general secretary.

  • News
  • 18 May 2020
Nautilus news

Seafarers should be exempt from mandatory quarantine measures

Seafarers should be exempt from planned travel restrictions that could include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for residents returning to the UK.

  • News
  • 15 May 2020
International

Seafarers take to social media in crew change plea

Seafarers unable to be relieved from duty due to Covid-19 restrictions have taken to social media to highlight their plight, indicating how the prolonged time away from home was affecting their mental health.

  • News
  • 11 May 2020
Welfare

IMO endorses new protocols designed to lift barriers to crew changes

Governments and their relevant national authorities should do everything possible to allow crew changes to happen, according to the International Maritime Organization.

  • News
  • 11 May 2020
International

Crew change for seafarers must be top of the agenda, says INTERCARGO

Dry cargo ship owners stepped up for seafarers as ships around the world honked their horns for International Labour Day on May 1 in support of the #HeroesAtSea social media campaign.

  • News
  • 01 May 2020
International

ITF keeps up pressure on free movement for seafarers

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have stepped up pressure on governments to allow thousands of seafarers to be repatriated.

  • News
  • 30 April 2020
Members at work

Stranded seafarers should be airlifted home, says Union

Seafarers who are unable to get off their ships due to coronavirus should be airlifted home, says Nautilus deputy general secretary Marcel van den Broek.

  • News
  • 29 April 2020
Welfare

IMO agrees protection of seafarer rights on medical care, wages and sick pay

An extraordinary meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed special extra measures for the protection of seafarer rights during the coronavirus pandemic, including access to medical care, wages, sick pay and food.

  • News
  • 17 April 2020
Health and safety

Nautilus urges Member States to follow new IMO guidance on crew changes and repatriation

Nautilus has urged all International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member States to follow new guidance on crew changes and repatriation during the Covid-10 pandemic.

  • News
  • 01 April 2020

Become a Nautilus member today