- Seafarers across the world are stuck on their ships and spend months without shore leave as ports ban crew transfers.
- Most are being paid and some are getting extra pay.
- They are doing their jobs without the expected breaks, often 12 hours a day and seven days a week.
- Since March, many ports are refusing to allow crew changes or shore leave.
- With extended contracts, the crew foresee a delay in their relief crew due to illness or bad weather.
Howard Mustoe and Sam Proffitt write for BBC about the ordeal being faced by seafarers as they are forced to stay in ship due to corona virus pandemic. The following information are based on the interviews conducted by BBC with crews on tankers, vessels and cruise ships.
The hardest part is not the length of time on board
Most of the seafarers are stuck in ship and don’t know what to do. They have been under pressure for quite some time. It takes a toll on their mental health. They don’t know what’s going to happen it’s more frustrating mentally on them.
“Morale is quite low, especially because you can’t go out ashore and without that by definition it’s cabin fever,” A tanker officer says.
The hardest part is not the length of time on board.It’s the fact that they don’t know the length of time they’ll spend on board.
Repeating the same thing
Until ports do reopen, recorded movies and TV shows as well as patchy internet connections are all that entertain them. “A lot of people end up just going back to their cabins and sitting on their phones and watching the same movie again and again,” he adds. “There’s nothing to look forward to.”
For cruise ships, it’s a different story
Crew were asked to take huge pay cuts while on board after their original contracts expired. They were only allowed off after sailing all the way to the Canary Islands, nearly a month beyond their planned contracts, passing open ports along the way.
For cargo vessels, there are still certain ports where shipping lines can relieve their crew. Thanks to the recognition by the UN International Maritime Organization and various governments; for recognising seafarers as key workers, many ports are now allowing crew changes.
A sense of anonymity
Most don’t want to be named as they have not been authorised by their employers to speak to the media. While shipping is a critical industry for global trade, it’s also one which faces many challenges. Previously amid US-China trade tensions and now the economic effects of coronavirus.
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