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Global shipping fleet to sound horns on labour day to raise alarm over need for urgent crew change

Apr 30, 2020

New data finds 150,000 seafarers trapped at sea by Covid-19 / Ships in ports across the world will sound their horns in solidarity and to highlight the need for action by governments

Download free Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance to help protect the health of seafarers (and passengers) as well as the general public here. 

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) are coordinating ships around the world to sound their horns when in port at 12.00 local time on Labour Day - 1 May.

The initiative is an opportunity to recognise the 1.6 million workers who are at sea and maintaining global supply chains.

The event also highlights the plight of seafarers trapped by travel restrictions related to COVID-19, where seafarers have had to extend their time onboard ships after lengthy periods at sea to ensure that supplies of food, fuel and goods, including vital medical supplies are maintained.

New data compiled by ICS and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) has found that 150,000 seafarers are in need of crew change by 15 May.

This number is up by 50% from 100,000 when ICS first highlighted the problem with national governments and the G20. Continued inaction will see this number continue to rise as more seafarers require crew change.

The current situation risks the safety and mental wellbeing of seafarers. While the continued inability to rotate seafarers on and off ships poses a serious threat to the ability of ships to deliver vital cargo at a time when countries need it most.

Through this gesture of solidarity on 1 May 2020, ICS and ITF hope to show recognition of over 1.6 million maritime staff across the world, the unsung heroes of global trade.

Guy Platten, Secretary General ICS, said:

“Globally there are 1.2million seafarers onboard 65,000 ships at sea. For the past two months crew change has all but completely stopped. This means that crew have not been able to disembark or embark ships at port and terms have had to be extended, but this is not sustainable. International Workers’ Day is the ideal moment to recognise their contribution to fighting the coronavirus pandemic. We thank you.

“The new data indicates that 150,000 seafarers are in need of immediate crew change, with the potential for this number to increase significantly until travel restrictions are eased. On Friday 1st May, ships around the world will sound their horns in a salute to these unsung heroes of global trade. We are asking governments to support our seafarers, as they support us, and facilitate coordinated action.”

Guidance and information can be downloaded here

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Download free Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance to help protect the health of seafarers (and passengers) as well as the general public here.

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