Two months have passed since the world pretty much closed down in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and I am pleased to note that none of our vessels in management have been infected by the virus to date.
But, very regrettably, seafarers have been confined to their ships since late March, with
only very limited crew relief being allowed to take place. Let me state it unequivocally:
That is not acceptable, and the issue of crew relief has been front and centre of our
senior management discussions on a daily basis these past few months.
We are faced with three principal bottlenecks: The port of call must allow relief crew to come through from their home countries, and off-signers to disembark and travel back to their homes. The home countries must allow movement across their borders, as well as within. And finally, we need commercial airlines serving the corridors that are necessary to actually move people over great distances. Except for some very exceptional circumstances, these three bottlenecks have remained predominantly closed over the past few weeks, preventing most overdue crew from being relieved.
I would like to unreservedly apologise to every crew member currently overdue. We really do understand the difficulty this puts many of you and your families in, while at the same time we realise your colleagues ashore may be in urgent need of a contract and the income that comes along with that. It goes without saying that we would like nothing more than being able to bring relief crew onboard and see you all go home safe upon the
completion of your contracts. It is not for a lack of trying!
The entire Anglo-Eastern shore team is working extremely hard to open the bottlenecks, both on a practical level, but also in using our political clout through associations where we can leverage the entire industry in lobbying for the special treatment of seafarers. Medical staff worldwide are lauded as critical workers for their sacrifices as they tirelessly, and at great health risk to themselves, tend to patients in hospitals that are in many
cases overstretched. Similarly, we believe seafarers should be recognised as critical
workers, because of the heroic efforts you and your colleagues are taking to keep the world’s vital supply chains open, all at great personal cost.
You can help in shaping public perception of seafarers as critical workers by standing
tall, discharging your duties with pride and care, and in the knowledge that what you are doing is for a greater good – now more than ever before. You can also help by refusing to become ‘victims’ during this challenging period. Victims typically feel powerless and display attitudes of pessimism, self-pity and repressed anger. But that mentality is a choice.
As much as you may feel abandoned or treated unfairly, know that the whole world is being severely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many people losing their lives and many more losing their livelihoods. Millions worldwide have lost their jobs, and some industries that were previously booming are now down for the count – and many will not
recover. Cargo ships, on the other hand, serve a vital need for the world to come through the crisis and will continue to be needed long after the pandemic is over. By shifting your perspective, it is possible to find the positives and gratitude in your situation, which in turn will give you strength to see you through the anxiety and uncertainty.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a situation for which no playbook is available. And I don’t want to give you a false sense of hope in a time of very dynamic, even daily developments. But there are signs that the concerted efforts of authorities worldwide are
having an impact. The curve is flattening, medical responses are becoming better organised, and lockdowns are easing in certain parts of the world. We will continue to watch the situation closely and work with our colleagues in the shipping industry to put maximum pressure on regulators to ensure seafarers are indeed recognised as critical workers and given free passage to and from ship.
In the meantime, I am asking you to demonstrate to the world that seafarers are exceptionally resilient people, who persevere when others give up. Help us to help you by showing the world that you deserve critical worker status. Be proud of what you do. Behave as winners, not victims. You are the unsung heroes literally keeping the lights on in cities worldwide, stocking supermarket shelves, and equipping hospitals with the necessary medical supplies. Without ships, the world’s economy really would come to a halt and even more businesses would go under.
So, let’s help each other on board in coping with what I know is a difficult situation and reach out to your shore teams for assistance when needed. Everyone is determined to help as best as we can, and rest assured that we are absolutely committed to effect crew relief for each and every due crew member in the Anglo-Eastern fleet as soon as is
humanly possible. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Source: Angloeastern by Capt. Bjorn Hojgaard, Chief Executive Officer