THE UK Chamber of Shipping is appealing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to facilitate crew changes to relieve seafarers, some of whom have been onboard ships for months.

It is estimated there are more than 1.2m seafarers at sea at any one time and currently 400,000 seafarers due to change over, including up to 2000 from the UK.

The Chamber wants the UK government to convene an urgent virtual summit to get states to allow crew changes to occur.

In the letter the Chamber states, “Over the last few months we have seen the contribution so many have made, and the sacrifices, to keep Britain open and functioning”.

“An often forgotten about group of key workers are the men and women of the shipping industry who move 95% of the UK’s goods,” the Chamber says.

“Since the start of the pandemic we have seen many countries shut down their borders. In normal times we would expect to see around 100,000 seafarers be replaced every month, but widespread travel restrictions are preventing these changes from taking place.”

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The Chamber says that many seafarers have been on board a ship for months, have had no contact with coronavirus, and they have now come to the end of their duty and cannot get home.

“This situation is unacceptable. The mental toll this is taking on many is too much and this critical issue is increasingly becoming a humanitarian crisis.”

This initiative has the support of UK Chamber of Shipping members which represent over 100,000 seafarers and over a thousand ships worldwide.

The issue of crew changes has attracted the attention of maritime business and industry groups worldwide.

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