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Worsening crew change crisis and Stranded Seafarers

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has warned that the COVID-19 restrictions on travel and transit have severely impacted seafarers. In a press release dated September 24th, 2020, the IMO details recent news and events around this humanitarian issue (click here to read). They highlight the devastating reality of this situation in the following statement:

“Some 400,000 seafarers from across the globe are now stranded on ships, continuing to work but unable to be relieved, in a deepening crew change crisis which threatens trade and maritime safety.”

Now more than ever, the crew change crisis and issue of stranded seafarers is at the forefront of key concerns for the Exporter’s Competitive Maritime Council. In an effort to show support, express gratitude and also seek guidance on how the ECMC can assist, they recently sent the attached letter to Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby who hold the title of Administrator U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration.

As expressed in the letter, ECMC appreciates MARAD’s continued & coordinated efforts supporting the U.S. Merchant Mariners that are facing significant hardship as a result of this crisis. The ECMC member organization seeks to understand what public and private efforts are underway to address the crisis and how ECMC can assist. MARAD’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Sealift, Mr. Anthony Fisher, responded with the following statement (full response here):

“We at MARAD greatly appreciate the kind words and ongoing concern for mariners from your membership. Since we received your note, we’ve passed it around within MARAD to show our staff how the shipper community has rallied around this humanitarian issue….I’ve copied Admiral Bob Clark of USTRANSCOM….They’ve been a strong partner, along with the State Dept. and others, in finding ways to get mariners home—particularly on vessels that don’t return to US ports.”

ECMC will continue to bring awareness to our industry while also continuing to seek and support all efforts to provide relief for this global humanitarian crisis.

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