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Maersk urges constructive dialogue to solve crew crisis

Panamá City, Panamá Province, Panamá - February 28, 2015: Aerial view of the bow of a load ship MAERSK BATAM. Five men in uniform, salute as the ship passes through the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. Behind, marine rigging and containers.
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A.P. Moeller-Maersk (Maersk) has urged governments to “engage in a constructive dialogue” to solve the crew changeover crisis.

In a statement, Palle Laursen, Chief Technical Officer Fleet Management & Technology, Maersk, said better communication was needed “under the current critical circumstances” in order to keep crews safe and at the same time maintain trade flows.

“The safety and well-being of our people remains a main priority for Maersk, and our fleet of ships are playing a critical role to secure global supply chains,” Lauresen said.

The crisis is yet another consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused chaos and congestion across the maritime world and global supply chain.

Seafarers have been designated key workers due to the importance of shipping to the supply of food, goods and medical supplies.

Travel restrictions have meant they have been unable to leave vessels once at port, leading to many being unable to go home long after their work contracts have expired.

On 16 June the International Transport Workers’ Federation announced it would support any seafarers that refused to work as a result of the crisis – a seafarers’ strike would undoubtedly exacerbate the current crisis.

Kitack Lim, the General Secretary of the IMO, has said the industry is on the verge of “a humanitarian crisis”, and insisted it is up to governments to resolve the matter.

Laursen said Maersk’s seafarers have been “sailing non-stop” since the COVID-19 outbreak but have secured the flow of essential products in doing so. Consequently, “fatugue and issues with mental health” are increasing, he claimed.

“Many of our seafarers are serving well above their normal contract length and still have no line of sight on when they can return home; fatigue and issues with mental health are increasing.

“For both safety, regulatory and humanitarian reasons, crew changes cannot be postponed indefinitely.  

“In Maersk, we are doing everything we can for them to return home safely and for new crews to get onboard.”

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