July 9 is the date for the UK-convened summit on crew changes, which will engage stakeholders from across the world, including maritime, aviation, regulators and politicians. A solution to the crew repatriation crisis cannot come soon enough with news from British charity, the Seafarers Hospital Society, that suicides have become the number one source of deaths onboard ships in recent months. 

With so many seafarers working well beyond their normal contract period, the strain is beginning to show

“The mental health of seafarers has been in the spotlight in recent weeks with a number of reported suicides and suicide attempts on board ships stranded offshore or in port. It’s now the foremost cause of deaths amongst seafarers,” the charity warned in a recent release. 

The Seafarers Hospital Society is now headed by Sandra Welch, previously the COO at the Sailors’ Society.

“The strain on seafarers is particularly acute. It’s a tough job at the best of times, but now, with so many seafarers working well beyond the normal contract period, the strain is beginning to show. They’re anxious about their families, anxious about their health and anxious about the future,” Welch said in a recent release. 

By way of putting pressure on regulators to find a solution to the crew impasse, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is encouraging ships around the world to sound their horns when in port at 12.00 local time next Wednesday to remind governments of the ongoing crew change crisis.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the ICS, commented in a release yesterday: “Globally there are now 400,000 seafarers who are either stranded at sea and have overrun their contracts or are at shore waiting to start their tours of duty. July 8 is a perfect moment to remind those politicians who are meeting to consider the impact of Covid-19 to classify these unsung heroes of global trade as key workers and to instigate seafarer air-bridges to enable safe travel.”

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