Save Our Seafaring Community from Unnecessary Exposure to COVID-19

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As you are well aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the entire world's population at risk. We as seafarers, have been braving the storm and diligently going about keeping the world's shipping lanes moving without much noise. We have been prevented from going ashore, quarantined, run out of basic necessities, not seen our families for months and yet we labor on without much of a fuss.

The OCIMF and the CDI are organizations that pride themselves on keeping the ships, seas, and seafarers safe. The shipping fraternity and I are appalled that they have been less than proactive to the real threat of exposure of seafarers to outsiders who may inadvertently bring the coronavirus on board. They have continued to implement their regime of inspections without application of mind. The risk of cross-transmission between seafarers and OCIMF SIRE & CDI surveyors carrying out these inspections is extremely high, to say the least. 

Still Shipping Companies and Charterers, in their quest to grab cargoes in the economic downturn, on the basis of these vetting inspection clearances, are forcing ship’s Masters and Seafarers, to undergo these inspections which are doing exactly the opposite of what they are intended to do in the first place ( i.e. raise the levels of safety and quality onboard ships)!

How can the safety of ships and seafarers be enhanced by exposing Seafarers to strictly commercial and non-statutory inspections and audits carried out by inspectors on board ships for a continuous period of 8 hours or more, where social distancing is impossible???

I ask the global community, how would you feel if a SIRE or CDI inspector came to spend 8 hours in your house? Even if he had no signs or symptoms of coronavirus - he could be an asymptomatic carrier. His cab driver or the conveyance that brought him to the ship could be contaminated with the virus. The hotel he spent the last night in may have exposed him to the virus. The last ship he visited could have exposed him to the virus. The possibilities are endless... Will you allow such a total stranger into your house during this period of uncertainty? Would you expose your family to him? NO! THEN WHY US MAY I ASK? It is a gross violation of our human rights and the Fundamental Right to LIFE!

The seafarers' community sends out this petition to request that the OCIMF and CDI unconditionally:

1) Suspend all vetting inspections and audits IMMEDIATELY until the world is rid of this pandemic. 

2) Extend the validity of already conducted inspections until such time as the audits on board can be carried out in a safe working environment.

If you truly care about the safety of every single global citizen sign this petition to ensure that seafarers- who are more than playing their part to carry a share of the burden of this pandemic and their families lives' are not destroyed by the apathy of the OCIMF and CDI.

On behalf of my fellow brothers and sisters in the seafaring community
Sincerely yours,
Capt. D. F. Lobo
BSc., LLB, Master Mariner