Anglo-Eastern Univan CEO Bjorn Hojgaard took to LinkedIn over the weekend to express his frustration that the crew change crisis was “getting worse, not better” and said ports and the nations were to blame.
“The way we treat seafarers in 2021 is absolutely shameful. Since the start of the pandemic, crew services around the world have struggled to make it easier to change crews against increasingly difficult oddsHojgaard wrote.
“And the seafarers on board are increasingly being treated like outcasts, despite keeping the global supply chain we call shipping running throughout the pandemic – for the most part. benefit people and nations around the world.“
Describing the current situation, he said vaccinated sailors were required to self-quarantine for 14-21 days before and after their flights to the port of embarkation, then often asked to self-isolate for an additional 14 days once on board. Even if they were injured on board in the course of their work, many countries would refuse to allow them to disembark for treatment.
In their day-to-day work, they are at risk of becoming infected through interaction with pilots and port workers, and yet, when their contracts are over, it can take months to find a port for repatriation.
While Hojgaard said owners and managers were doing everything in their power to facilitate the crew change, those responsible were the nations and ports blocking the process.
“No, the real culprits here are the ports and the nations that decide that, yes, they want the ships and their cargo, but no, they don’t allow the crew change. Not on my doorstep! You can do it elsewhere, thank you very much!“
He noted that the crew change east of Suez was the exception rather than the norm, with blatant disregard for the humanitarian costs for the sailors.
Whether seafarers were vaccinated or not had no bearing on the policies of many ports.
“Requiring ships and their cargo to call at their ports, and at the same time expecting other countries and ports to take full responsibility for facilitating crew change is truly unsustainable. It is shortsighted and it is wrong, ”Hojgaard said.
Hojgaard is by no means the only one frustrated by the lack of action in the face of the crew change crisis.
Speaking to Marine Money Asia last week, Berge Bulk CEO James Marshall detailed some of his ongoing issues in repatriating the crew.
“It’s frustrating, it’s difficult to remove the crew from our ships at the moment, and these are crews that have been at sea for six months and are by nature Covid-free, in quarantine for six months.”
Marshall said at present they have a ship in Europe where they are unable to get the crew off and have been going around different ports to try to do so. In this case, Chinese sailors must have three weeks of quarantine before being repatriated, but most European ports require the crew to fly within seven days.
” It’s a big problem. It’s a logistical issue and it’s a mental health issue for our sailors so we’re very worried about them, and we’re working really hard for them. We are doing our best, everyone is doing their best, but it is a very difficult situation, ”he said.
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