ships at port of rotterdam

Ships to Sound Horns in Solidarity

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 107
April 30, 2020
ships at port of rotterdam
Photo: VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

Ships in ports across the world will sound their horns on Friday in solidarity and to protest government travel restrictions which have kept seafarers at sea for extended periods of time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The initiative is an opportunity to recognize the 1.6 million workers who are at sea and maintaining global supply chains. 

The event is being coordinated by International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Ships around the world are being asked to sound their horns when in port at 12.00 local time on May 1, International Labour Day. 

According to the ICS, there are currently about 1.2 million seafarers at sea and about 150,000 of them will be up for crew change on May 15 after spending lengthy periods at sea. In many cases, however, government-imposed travel restrictions prevent seafarers from traveling to and from their ships, putting seafarers and their ships at risk.

“Globally there are 1.2million seafarers onboard 65,000 ships at sea. For the past two months crew change has all but completely stopped,” says Guy Platten, Secretary General at ICS. “This means that crew have not been able to disembark or embark ships at port and terms have had to be extended, but this is not sustainable.”

The inability of seafarers to continue regular crew changes has been highlighted as one of the biggest issues facing the global shipping industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only does the current situation risk the safety and mental wellbeing of seafarers, but the continued inability to rotate seafarers on and off ships poses a serious threat to keeping the supply chains open and operating efficiently.

“The new data indicates that 150,000 seafarers are in need of immediate crew change, with the potential for this number to increase significantly until travel restrictions are eased,” adds Platten. “On Friday 1st May, ships around the world will sound their horns in a salute to these unsung heroes of global trade. We are asking governments to support our seafarers, as they support us, and facilitate coordinated action.”

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