15th June deadline was set by various shipping unions for crew change all over the world. IMO also rolled out their protocol regarding special status to crew members who are working at sea. Idea was to give them key worker status and let the member states to follow what IMO said, thus facilitating smooth crew changes. A lot said, but less done. While some countries took action, while some didn’t citing their own reasons. Keeping apart all this as what is difficult and what are not, more than 150000 seafarers and counting, needs a sign off. Some of them have completed their contracts well over their limits. We can’t blame anyone here, because this post is not about that.
Well in so many parts of the world ‘Key Worker’ status is still in planning phase, situation of no sign off is similar to ‘Ticking Time Bomb’. If you happened to be a sailor family, then you must know that stress levels at sea keeps on increasing as you spend time there. Plus with no shore leaves all over the world, they are bound to be stuck on the metal structure (Not anyone’s problem right?). There is always a sense that no one actually knows about who seafarers are! And thus the actions and work towards have been always slow. While cruise liners had the freedom of sending seafarers home by moving ships to actual city of sign off, commercial shipping is bound to follow the trade (More or less). Can we blame ship owners, government or anyone? Well answer is Complete NO!
While some sailor’s wives are almost at the end of their 9month pregnancy, not having their better half by their side is heart wrenching for sure. There is a famous saying ‘Until you don’t pass through that, you actually don’t know what it feels like’. There have been some improvements regarding crew changes across the world, but it is more or less like peanuts in a bag of sand. Every month 1,00,000 seafarers needs sign off, and a crew change of 5 to 6k a month won’t help.
When you are tired (mentally than physically), you tend to lose focus. Accident happens. Surely lot of great minds are sitting and planning things, but in reality not much is moving. Or May we don’t see it!