COVID-19 caused maritime chaos, dialogue needed to solve crisis, Maersk urges


A.P. Moller – Maersk, a Danish integrated container logistics company, connecting and simplifying trade to help its customers grow and thrive, has called on governments to “engage in a constructive dialogue” to solve the crew changeover crisis.

“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,” the Chief Technical Officer Fleet Management and Technology, Maersk, Palle Laursen, said in a statement.

Laursen 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 top manager with A. P. Moller – Maersk, a shipping line that boasts of a dedicated team of over 80.000 staff, operating in 130 countries, said the crisis in the maritime world, is yet another consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused chaos and congestion across the industry and global supply chain.

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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 June 16, 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.

The General Secretary of the IMO, Kitack Lim, 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 said.

“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,” Laursen said.