ICS Highlights Shortcomings In Seafarer Wellbeing Amid Red Sea Crisis


As the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) explains in their Leadership Insights newsletter story, shipping charities and unions have aired concerns that seafarer safety and well-being are being overlooked as they get caught in the crosshairs of geopolitical conflict in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and Bab el-Mandeb Strait.  

Worst Fears

According to ICS, the missile attack on True Confidence on 6th March, which resulted in the tragic loss of three crew, realized the worst fears of many in the industry. However, while attacks on ships in these regions continue to disrupt the supply chain and threaten crew welfare, there are concerns that mainstream media’s focus on the financial implications of these geopolitical events is overshadowing the impact on seafarers, ICS notes. 

People talk about the cost of ‘going round’. But what’s the cost of risking lives on the Red Sea?”, asked Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in conversation with ICS Leadership Insights. “Every day, Houthi attacks are putting the lives of innocent, hard-working seafarers in danger. Yet their voices have been pitifully absent in how conflicts and crises are reported”, he said. 

Boet Van Schalkwyk, one of Sailors’ Society’s global team of trained responders, who has been speaking to seafarers as part of the organization’s Ship Connect program, said: “It’s the stress of not knowing that has …. pushed up anxiety levels and affected everybody onboard.”

Safeguarding Trade

Such welfare support networks are vital and the international community is also taking steps to safeguard trade and reassure ship owners and crew. It continues to bolster naval activity in the region and the deployment of the European Union´s Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation Aspides will enhance the protection of ships targeted by sea and air attacks, augmenting the naval assets already on station through Operation Prosperity Guardian and independent deployers.  

While noting shipping’s inability to shape the ongoing geopolitical events, Roy Khoury, CEO of Blue Fleet Group, operator of the Rubymar – which sank on 2 March after being struck by missiles on 18 February – stressed that leadership, crew training, and trust between ship and shore-based personnel can help mitigate risk.

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Source: Study4sea