Allow crew-changes at ports worldwide 4 seafarers finish’g contract amidst COVID-19 crisis

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Respected Authority,
Shipping Ministry of India

Amidst the lockdowns in India and in various other countries, the global shipping lines are still open. While all modes of goods transport have been slowed down and restricted to only “essential” goods, the world economy is being run by the seamen at the moment.

Despite of this, the health and mental well-being of the seamen is not taken as a matter of urgent concern by many countries and the shipping companies.

There are several seamen who are stranded out at sea on ships and on various ports despite of completing their signed contracts with respective companies. Their family members are worried and also need them to be home in these desperate times. My husband, who is also at sea from more than 6 months is due to sign off, once he reaches Singapore on 14th April. Although, all health and safety precautions have been made sure off on the ship, the shipping company does not guarantee his sign off from the Singapore port.
We have been living in difficult situations with our loved ones far away from us.

I understand that the situation is changing every day, and the policies in these matter are formed accordingly.
As I understand there are 1.5 lac seafarers (source - Internet), stuck at sea and waiting to come back home to their families. As am being told, all countries except Canada, have stopped crew changes at their ports. This is forcing the seafarers to continue their sail to the next ports and so on.
While these men are co-operating with their companies in this matter, nobody knows how long the COVID-19 situation will prevail.

These seafarers work long hours, all seven days of the week for a long period. If they are forced to work in this situation, post the completion of their contract, it might impact their mental and physical health.
No money is going to be able to compensate for that.

Thus, I feel, the seafarers should be enabled to sign off as per their contracts, as it would be in normal times, and should not be deprived off their right to do so.

Sir, I sincerely request you to look into this matter and help these men reach home safely.

In order to keep the shipping lines working without disruption it is implicit to see to it that crew changes happen as planned at various ports in the world.
I again request you to look into the matter and publish guidelines regarding this to the shipping companies and help our fellow seafarers reach home safely.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Trupti
(Wife of a second officer presently at sea)