Crew change crisis
will go down in the history of shipping as Covid-19 will go down in the history
of the world. The virus claimed
thousands of lives across the world and the consequent crew change crisis led
lakhs of seafarers to unprecedented human suffering which in fact was described
as human crisis.
moved by human consideration rather than by economic concerns resorted to
lockdown it resulted in cancellations of international flights, a very integral
element in crew change. It was obvious that crew change was to prove a problem
beyond expectations. Travel bans were heard almost from all the countries. With
travel bans in force, the seafarers could neither leave vessels at the end of
the contract nor could they get the reliever.
Of course, lifting
travel ban was looked upon as a very significant measure that would solve the
crew change problems to a large extent. In fact IMO urged for exemption for the
seafarer from the travel bans. .
By June stranded seafarers were over 300,000
By June there were
figures of over 300,000 seafarers and the ITF was saying it would assist
seafarers in their rights to leave ships.
There did appear
to be some good news from major hub ports in Asia in terms of getting crew
change back on track but it did not continue since a few flouted the rules
though many followed.
Over the following
months there were continued calls for action at an international level, but
little changed in terms of getting seafarers recognised as key workers, or new
global system of safe crew change up and running.
and managers have worked around the situation as far as they possibly can to
get crew changes done despite the wide variety of obstacle but some charters,
particularly in dry bulk shipping, have started to block crew changes from
taking place, even where owners are willing to pay the costs of deviation.
As we move into
2021 the crew change issue remains a top priority across the shipping industry.