‘Champions League’ table shows companies repatriating crew during COVID-19

Captain Kuba Szymanski InterManager Secretary General

A ‘Champions League’ style table has been set up to show the companies which have managed to repatriate seafarers and carry out crew changes during the COVID-19 crisis.

The league was discussed by InterManager Secretary General Capt Kuba Szymanski, when he met with other representatives of the cross-party COVID-19 Seafarers’ Welfare group for a digital press round table earlier today (Wednesday).

The group, which was formed by the International Chamber for Shipping, has participants from across the industry including InterManager, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA),  and was set up 10 weeks ago to discuss pressing welfare issues during the pandemic.

Capt Szymanski said there had been much fake news about there being no crew changes taking place and this was filtering through to seafarers and making them anxious.

In order to help seafarers, InterManager – with support of other industry players – has created the Maritime Champions League (www.intermanager.org/maritime-champions/) which not only provides statistics on seafarers relieved since 23rd March, but also indicates the nationality of those seafarers and the routes successfully used for crew changes.

“The league is showing it is possible to repatriate,”said Capt Szymanski.

Natalie Shaw, Director of Employment Affairs for ICS, said the COVID-19 Seafarers’ Welfare Group was hugely important and stressed the need for governments to take responsibility during the crisis.

She said seafarers were finding it difficult to access medical care and other issues included renewal of visas and passports. Robert Verbist, of IMHA, also said medical abilities had been limited by some authorities.

Roger Harris, Executive Director, ISWAN, said the welfare organisation had received many calls from seafarers worried out repatriation, financial hardship and stress, and it was working hard to help them, while Fabrizio Barcelona, ITF Seafarers’ Section Assistant Secretary told how the ITF Seafarers Trust had put aside £1 million to support seafarers.

Jason Zuidema, General Secretary, ICMA, whose members include Mission to Seafarers and Sailors’ Society, said welfare work had been made more difficult with the closing of seafarer centres but in some cases they are able to provide gangway visits to drop off food and medical supplies. A big challenge, he said, was that many seafarers going home did not know when their next contract would be.

“We are getting on, we are having challenges, but we are dealing with them, “said Capt Szymanksi, while ICS’s Ms Shaw said: “Seafarers have always been at the heart of our industry and will remain at the heart of our industry.”