At the conclusion of the International Maritime Summit hosted by U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the 13 nations in attendance issued a joint statement acknowledging the challenges faced by seafarers and committed to pursuing efforts to better facilitate the crew changes. They outlined new international measures that could open up foreign borders, explore waving visa and documentation requirements, and increase the number of commercial flights to expedite repatriation efforts.
The shipping industry responded to these efforts calling the summit a positive step but challenging the nations to follow through with actions.
“Today marks a new chapter for seafarers and, alongside our international partners, we are taking a stand to end the bureaucracy preventing men and women around the world from returning home,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
The virtual summit brought together members of the UN with political and business leaders from across the globe to discuss the issues facing seafarers and the challenges that have been made worse by the restrictions related to the spread of the coronavirus. Kitack Lim, UN Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, gave a special address to highlight the difficulties seafarers are facing, and all governments and parties participating in the summit were urged to resolve the issues to support seafarers and the industry more widely.
Representatives from 13 countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UAE, U.K., and U.S., recognized the urgency and pledged to a series of initiatives. Specifically, they said they would encourage all IMO states to designate seafarers as key workers and would consider using seafarers certificate, ID documents, and letters from carriers as proof of the key worker status and for their travel. They also committed to engaging in discussions to develop a protocol for crew changes during the pandemic as well as exploring waivers and other temporary measures to permit travel while also working with the aviation industry to increase travel access.
The joint statement specifically acknowledges “as a matter of urgent concern,” seven key issues ranging from the inability of ship operators worldwide to conduct ship’s crew changes to the fact that seafarers’ tour of duty cannot continue to be extended and that at least 200,000 seafarers require immediate repatriation. They agreed that the health and wellbeing of seafarers is paramount and that concerted action is required made more urgent by the uncertainty around additional waves of the virus.
Some of the nations participating in the conference also used the opportunity to highlight their initiatives. For example, the U.K. also announced a program to support seafarers off its shores with mobile internet routers – MiFi units – to immediately provide free internet access on board for the hundreds of seafarers still waiting to return home.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim responded to the summit by issuing a statement saying that the IMO welcomed the commitment of 13 countries to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers. “This step represents significant progress to help resolve a growing crisis facing the maritime industry, and enable hundreds of thousands of stranded seafarers to go home or join ships,” said the IMO.
Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping Guy Platten issued a similar statement saying, “This summit is a welcome show of political leadership at a time when seafarers across the world need it most. Governments must now use this summit as a catalyst to implement with the solutions the shipping industry has provided, applying the political will needed to put them into practice. This issue doesn’t require money and did not need complicated negotiations. This summit is a catalyst for action.”
Representatives of the shipping industry however welcomed the initiatives while calling for additional actions. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which for example has repeatedly called on governments to act, responded to the summit with a statement with what it hopes will be the next actions.
“We thank those countries who came together today for their commitment,” said ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton, “and now call on those ministers and officials who signed the dotted line need to head back to their countries and follow through on these critical pledges by bringing in practical exemptions and waivers that allow seafarers to move freely to enable safe crew changes and repatriation to their home countries.”
Speaking to the governments of the world, the ITF said that while their focus may be predominant on responding to the economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, that the response cannot ignore the plight of seafarers, and their fundamental human dignity.
A massive fire broke out at the Port of Beirut on Thursday, incinerating a warehouse full of tires and oil within the port’s free zone. The same area was heavily damaged in the ammonium nitrate explosion that leveled the central port area and the adjacent waterfront on August 4. According to Lebanon’s civil defense agency, […]
Over the course of the past five days, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority arranged a medical intervention for an injured aboard a freighter in the Indian Ocean. On Saturday evening, the Spliethoff tweendecker Dolfijngracht called for assistance while under way about 1,000 nauical miles off the coast of Western Australia. A crewmember had sustained serious […]
The naval forces of the US and Bahrain recently staged a joint force training exercise which showcased the interoperability between coalition warships operating I the Arabian Gulf. Coalition Task Force Sentinel executed combined exercise Sentinel Shield supporting Sentry and Sentinel patrols in the coalition’s area of operations. The guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones and […]
DSV Belgium has solid experience in the transport of pharmaceutical products for different customers. With a pharma hub based at Brussels Airport a lot of experience and know-how has been built up over the years. Last weekend, the forwarder handled one hundred million mouth masks, an important milestone for its Belgian organisation that has put […]
The U-Freight Group (UFL), with its considerable involvement in eCommerce logistics, says that the latest statistics showing that global e-commerce sales hit $25.6 trillion in 2018 are a further vindication of its decision to enter this sector of the international freight market several years ago. The latest available estimates, up 8% from 2017, were recently […]
The UK government’s new post-Brexit tariff regime will result in both winners and losers. The new regime is set to replace the European Union’s Common External Tariff from the end of the Brexit Transition Period on December 31, 2020. The UK’s commitment to the ongoing Brexit process and ending the UK’s transition from EU membership […]
Astral Aviation has increased its intra-African network with cargo freighters during the pandemic. While there has been a reduction in capacity to, from, and within Africa, which has been caused by a stoppage of passenger flights and limited frequencies on freighter aircraft, Astral Aviation continues to operate cargo freighters from its Nairobi hub to 13 destinations […]
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a Marine Accident Brief about an accident that occurred on April 15, 2019, involving the towing vessel DeJeanne Maria which struck the end of a submerged dredge pipeline while pushing two spud barges to the Gulf of Mexico. The incident occurred on the Mississippi River in Pass […]
With close to 100 daily cargo flights operated to a destination network spanning more than 65 cities across six continents, Emirates SkyCargo is delivering essential supplies and commodities to people around the world. The air cargo carrier is currently operating 11 Boeing 777 freighter aircraft, each with a capacity to transport about 100 tonnes of […]
Best known as a leading passenger airport serving Germany’s most populated federal state North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf has become transformed into a vital distribution point, during the COVID 19 pandemic, for medical equipment and other life-saving goods, mostly from China. Gerton Hulsman, managing director of cargo operations, reports that the handling teams are working hard to […]
Operators can continue to use pilots and other crew members who have unable to comply with certain training, recent experience, testing, and checking requirements due to the COVID-19 outbreak in support of essential operations. Additionally, this Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) provides regulatory relief to certain persons and pilot schools unable to meet duration and […]
Emirates SkyCargo has expanded its weekly scheduled cargo flight operations to cover 75 destinations across six continents. Through its wider reach, Emirates SkyCargo is able to transport essential commodities and other urgently needed cargo more rapidly across the world, allowing exporters and importers across markets to benefit from direct access to widebody cargo capacity. Some […]
Global commercial aviation charter company Albion Aviation Group is reporting that it is seeing a considerable uptake in its professional cargo broker training courses from the current global pandemic crisis and surge in charter demand. “We have completed a number webinar courses for a whole of host of companies, looking to manage their own cargo […]
The First DP2, Twin-Hulled SOV in the World, NB72 Groene Wind met the Sea on September 29. 2020 in Yalova, Turkey. The Groene Wind will be directly chartered to Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy for the maintenance of the Rentel and Mermaid & Seastar (known as SeaMade) offshore wind farms in Belgium. This is the first DP2, […]
Callan Marine is serving as the prime contractor to the Texas Department of Transportation for a maintenance dredging project located at the Bolivar Ferry Terminal, in Galveston, Texas. Work began in May and is estimated to be complete in late July 2020. The project consists of the removal of 600,000 cubic yards of material and […]
Network Airline Management and TAAG Angola Airlines are pleased to announce the renewal of their long-term freighter aircraft contract by an additional 12 months, sealing an ongoing partnership for the foreseeable future. Operating a regular weekly scheduled service from Liege, Belgium, to the capital of Angola, Luanda, Network Airline Management provides a Boeing 747-400F aircraft […]