Five steps for supporting seafarers during Covid-19

5th May 2020
The entire world relies on seafarers to deliver everything they need on a day to day basis, from the fuel in their cars to the food in their cupboards. Now, more than ever, seafarers are working constantly to deliver protective equipment to the nurses and doctors around the world, medicines to help fight this and other urgent health issues, as well as the food and other essential supplies needed to keep supermarket shelves stocked and the rest of us all safe at home.

While their critical role is undeniable, most seafarers are facing extended contracts, a lack of shore leave and the inability to even speak to their loved ones due to vessels in locations without signal due to current circumstances.

We are calling for the industry to support our seafarers at a time they need it most with the following advice. The challenge is complex, but there are some relatively simple steps that can be taken that would make a big difference to our seafarers:

  1. Facilitate gangway visits to provide information, support and human contact: Although close contact is not possible, seafarers will feel more supported being able to see a friendly face, get news from the outside world and be provided with some limited support.
  2. Open ports to access safe seafarers’ centres where possible: Seafarers centres that can be open, would provide free wifi, enabling seafarers to check in with their loved ones, providing both reassurance and dramatically improving mental wellbeing.
  3. Think about seafarers when choosing vessel lay-up locations: Often, the cheapest locations to lay-up a vessel will be in remote places without access to signal. If this decision is just cost-driven, it risks hugely impacting seafarers who may be in one remote location for the next six months, not able to talk to friends or family and with no welfare support.
  4. Extend wifi provision for crew – including port wifi networks: While we take wifi for granted, most seafarers do not have this luxury. At a time when they are unable to travel home due to closed borders, restricted flights and extended contracts, this is their only method with checking in with their family and friends during this pandemic.
  5. Pilots play a role in checking in with crew: There are many roles within the shipping industry who have the ability to provide support. Pilots guiding in vessels are able to share a few words and check in with the Captain and crew. Even brief contact can be a huge support at this time.

It is important for us all to consider the sacrifices these seafarers are making and the strain they are put under to keep the global supply chain afloat. Even the smallest amount of support will result in happier and therefore safer seafarers.

For further information on the support we offer, please click here.

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