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Opinion from GRANDPA1940

The UK Government announced to the world that they were setting up a conference to deal with the International Crisis and Humane Scandal of the huge numbers of seafarers languishing on board ships of all types, sizes and flags because they were not allowed to disembark at the end of their contract period due to the CoronaVirus complications. I could foretell what would be achieved even before a word was spoken; which, of course, was absolutely nothing!

Nothing was achieved because there was no pressure to make shipping companies act. The IMO’s call for strike action fell on deaf ears because any one ship can be picked off, silenced and calmed by threats of ‘blacklisting’ from any further ship employment.

There were some attempts to set up a orderly crew-change system, but these swiftly fell apart when shipping companies tried to shortcut the procedures. This was mainly because of the vast numbers of ‘Flags of Convenience’ ships, registered with Nations who register whatever comes their way (for tax-dodging purposes), and who otherwise have little concern for the people who man those ships.

But there are some people, and a few companies who make their living from ships who also have a deep and abiding respect for the seafaring men and women. They have the power to stop shipping dead in the oceans. Yes, the International Protection and Indemnity Group, a band of companies that collectively insures 90% of the world’s shipping can force the Nations and Shipping Companies to sort the crew change debacle out. By stating that unless all crew members are sent back home and with new crew members legally on board, no ship would be able to sail because their INSURANCE would be invalid.

I didn’t think of this, Andrew Craig Bennett of ‘Splash’ wrote of it first. He makes a good case, and the idea has history behind it. The pressure which this group could raise is immense. There isn’t a shipping company around which would defy an edict which would deny them ‘Indemnity’ if they tried to sail without an all-clear from the insurers!

So, whether you have history in shipping, or even if you have never been near a ship in your life; why not sit down and send an email to secretariat@internationalgroup.org.uk, and help make a little bit of history yourself.

Simply ask the Group to demand that Governments, ship companies and all concerned accept that safety is being affected. That unless all nations permit seamen to come ashore to stay in hotels, to travel through airports (all socially distanced and wearing masks of course), P&I cover for ships at sea will only continue until they reach port or other places of safety. That cover for each and every ship which has on board a seafarer who has been on board for longer than the term agreed under his or her original contract will stop. The only exceptions would be for crew matters, and as soon as that ship starts to work cargo or passengers cover will remain suspended until all replacements have joined the ship. All regular hand overs (socially distanced, after quarantine) must have been completed and the leaving crew members need to be safely home.

No excuses, no ‘it’ll be alright; just give us a bit of time’; no leeway!

No compliance = No Insurance; No Indemnity!

Enough emails; enough pressure ,and who knows, the crew catastrophe might just be solved!

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