The COVID-19 pandemic has put seafarers around the world in precarious situations. Travel restrictions mean some cannot leave their ships, be repatriated home, or even get urgent medical assistance. Other seafarers have seen their contracts unilaterally terminated or have been quarantined on board ships for more than 14 days, without getting paid.
A large number of seafarers, as well as their spouses and family members, have reached out to IMO to share their concerns about a variety of difficult situations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Click here for our comprehensive FAQ on crew changes and repatriation).
IMO has established the Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) to help resolve individual cases, often working alongside other organizations like the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). Since the beginning of the crisis, this dedicated team works around the clock – contacting representatives from national governments, NGOs, trade unions or relevant associations, or orienting seafarers towards the right organisation, to find solutions. Seafarers and their relatives can contact the SCAT by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Some 200,000 seafarers are stuck on ships because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the International Transport Workers' Federation.
They are not allowed to leave their vessels because of international travel restrictions. And it's hard for replacement crews to come and relieve them. Thousands of sailors don’t have access to health professionals. Experts are warning the situation could become life-threatening for many. Heart attacks and suicides have already been reported aboard some ships.