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Union's crew change campaign featured on BBC World Service

16 February 2021

Nautilus Champion Martel Fursdon has been featured on the BBC World Service as the Union continues in its campaign to end the global crew change crisis.

Ms Fursdon, a safety officer for Holland America Line, featured in a segment on the 8 February 2021 Business Daily show entitled 'stormy seas for global shipping'. This covered stranded ship-workers and those trying to help them return home. She described her role in a complex operation to facilitate a crew change for almost 600 stranded cruise ship workers in the middle of the ocean.

'We boarded a total of nearly 600 people from six different ships. It took us 12 hours to do at sea, just running with lifeboats, because we had to bring all of their luggage as well,' she said, adding:  'We had to board them with Covid procedures like social distancing, so we could only move 30 people each time in a lifeboat that could hold 150. We had to sanitise all of their luggage when they came onboard. It was such a lengthy process.

'We offloaded 246 people to other ships so that they could start their journeys home, and then we boarded nearly 600 Filipinos and sailed back across the ocean to the Philippines,' she concluded.

While Ms Fursdon was successful in repatriating a significant number of seafarers, new variants of Covid-19, coupled with new national border restrictions, have set back efforts to end the crisis more widely.

The programme examined the potential impact of the Neptune Declaration, a global initiative supported by more than 300 organisations, including Nautilus, which have pledged to use their influence to get seafarers home. International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) general secretary Stephen Cotton welcomed the move, but warned that a number of charterers are continuing to 'choose profits over getting seafarers home'.

Nautilus is continuing to use its influence to campaign for an end to the crisis.


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