Day of the Seafarer 2020
The annual Day of the Seafarer (DotS) will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on June 25. Anker Crew Insurance wants to help raise awareness around this year’s theme: ‘Seafarers as Key workers’.
Anker Crew Insurance invites you to take a look beyond your own horizon and see what happens at sea. By reading stories and quotes of people working for maritime companies your perspective becomes wider and your view better.
In this article you can find out what is currently going on in de maritime world and why maritime professionals are of vital importance to us all.
Seafarers are key workers
Maritime companies experience big challenges since the Covid19 pandemic took over the world and directed daily business. Crew changes were made nearly impossible due to measures of national governments and local authorities. Projects, tenders and new building plans were postponed or cancelled due to uncertain global markets. Crude oil prices went down from 60 to 11 dollars a barrel, making it even more difficult for all parties involved.
Currently we are facing a critical risk of collapse, not only for maritime companies, but certainly for people on a personal level. Approximately 400.000 seafarers are stranded. Feeling trapped and isolated on board, sometimes without income or other certainty at all. The people working on board of the approximately 55.000 ships our global fleet counts, have kept on working to keep us all supplied.
Ship owners and port operators are doing everything they can. They are using the available resources as much as possible.
Of course there are also positive stories of seafarers being successfully relieved from their duty. Or seafarers who voluntarily extend their time of duty in order to sail to a safe port close to their home country. There are also stories of governments and aviation companies working together to enable seafarers to travel quick and safely towards their homes.
Unfortunately these positive examples are scattered events. Still there are too many seafarers feeling isolated and trapped. With dramatic consequences. The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), reported that the demand for help has tripled since the outbreak of Covid-19. Before the virus outbreak the number of seafarers feeling depressed and unhappy was already worrying. But sadly, now even more seafarers are feeling stressed and anxious. In some cases even committing suicide as a result.
After an inquiry on social media, we’ve received messages from people working at sea. Some randomly chosen quotes:
“My company decided to dismiss all Captains , Deck Officers and Engineers, keeping only one AB and Mechanic on board of each ship. We only start the auxiliary diesel engine during nighttime because of the navigation lights. I don’t feel safe and I don’t feel supported. We have to be protected in our rights.” Anonymous – Third Engineer
“I’m one of the lucky few off-signers. I successfully traveled home from Estonia. Traveling went smoothly, but the situation in the airports was surreal. Unfortunately most crew on board are not aware of the many efforts crewing departments are making. Yet it is greatly appreciated!
Especially with a replacement date in view, people start counting down the days. To improve crew moral, it’s good to know that there are people ashore doing their utmost best for us.” – Quinten Nollen – Maritime Officer / Engineer
“We have a family at home we need to support. The payment of my salary is overdue, while I am still on board. I didn’t receive any income since last February 2020.” Anonymous – Chief Engineer
We need to focus on these issues swiftly, since the problems are of massive proportion. Seafarers need to be treated as vital workers. Governments and local authorities need to take action at short terms, and enable crewing departments to do their job without counteraction or delay.
As recently shown, it ís possible to change the current situation for the better. A few governments and authorities already took action in over the last few weeks. For example: Hong Kong allows unrestricted exchanges of seafarers and the Dutch Marechaussee temporarily facilitates issuance of visa’s to Dutch seafarers.
A success story of our own is that despite the extreme community lockdown in The Philippines, our partner AIM successfully provided guidance and rehabilitation of medically repatriated Philippine crew members. Anker Crew Insurance is happy to provide Philippine seafarers with these services of AIM, so they can safely recover from their illness.
Many clients of Anker Crew Insurance have also taken action and took care of their people on board. On our website you can read about these admirable efforts. “Impact of the corona crisis: the story of our clients”.
What can I do?
You can also raise awareness by highlighting this problem.
Tell your story, or share this article on social media.
Let seafarers know you support them and appreciate their efforts.
You can also make a donation to organisations like ISWAN or The Mission to Seafarers. They are currently providing struggling seafarers with psychological support, mental health first aid, post-trauma care and suicide prevention.