Stranded cargo ships have become one of the many sobering symbols of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, about 100,000 of these crew members changed over each month. Seafarers typically would serve contracts of up to 11 months under the United Nations Maritime Labour Convention. Now there is an outcry for cargo ship crew relief.
Since March, restrictions and border closures have prevented seafarers from any reprieve. They have essentially been forced into indefinite service, without shore leave. The latest estimate of stranded seafarers is 400,000, with some crew having been stuck for 18 months. This tragic issue has been described as a humanitarian crisis and modern forced labor.
The issue has compounded further with tensions between Australia and China. Cargo ships transporting blockaded Australian coal have remained stranded near China, with Chinese authorities prohibiting the offload of cargo.
Seafarers Are Suffering
The ramifications this crisis has had on seafarers has been severe. Many have suffered from deteriorating physical and mental health. Crew ship members have reported experiencing rashes due to the poor quality of water supplied from China. Many seafarers trapped on board are aged 50 to 60, and are facing personal medical issues too.
Poor conditions and forced labour has left crew ship members severely fatigued as well. The International Transport Workers’ Federation has labelled the shipping industry “a ticking timebomb”. The organisation’s survey of seafarers found that 60% believed they or crew mates were more likely than not to be “involved in an accident that could harm human life, property or the marine environment due to tiredness or fatigue”.
The mental health of crew ship members is suffering. The extreme isolation they already experienced before the pandemic has dramatically compounded. Seafarers are living in isolation, in deplorable conditions, with no certainty as to when their struggle will end. Tragically, some seafarers have reported self-harm.
Commercial Aviation Restrictions
While the COVID situation has eased in Australia, as one outbreak closes, another one opens. Commercial air travel to Australia remains incredibly difficult. We have hard and short limits on the numbers of people, including our own citizens, that can legally be allowed into the country each week.
The situation is incredibly unpredictable. For example, between 19 December 2020 and 22 December 2020, Queensland changed its border rules three times. The number of federally imposed quotas on the number of people allowed to fly back into Australia changes frequently. Passengers can be told with little warning that they have lost their seat.
How Adagold Is Supporting Cargo Ships
Adagold Aviation is committed to providing cargo ship crew relief for seafarers stranded at sea.
We have been working directly with international shipping agents, shipping companies as well as vessel owners from ports across Australia. Our team has helped ship workers from Port Headland to Esperance, Karratha and Townsville. Adagold can help crew leave remote ports and get them to their homes across the globe.
Witnessing the struggle of cargo ship workers is incredibly distressing. Supporting seafarers is of the utmost importance to us at Adagold Aviation. We have the resources and capabilities to undertake humanitarian aid emergency response when necessary. If you or your cargo ship workers need a charter to get home, don’t hesitate to contact us. Lifting some burden off crew members and bringing them home with as little stress as possible is incredibly important to us.
If you or anyone you know needs help: