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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: How to help shipping’s stranded seafarers

Listen to the latest edition of Lloyd’s List’s weekly podcast — your weekly briefing on the stories shaping shipping

With shipping companies continuing to postpone crew exchange and extend employment contracts as the only way of overcoming the coronavirus travel and quarantine restrictions, the industry has a ticking time bomb on its hands. Make no mistake — fatigue among seafarers will inevitably result in more accidents at sea. This is a safety issue and it’s a mental health issue. Several voices join the podcast this week to discuss the implications for seafarers including: V.Group chief executive Graham Westgarth; Professor Helen Sampson, who led a recent study into mental health issues at sea; Liz Baugh, the lead medical consultant at Red Square Medical, which provides medicial assistance to maritime businesses; Caitlin Vaughan from the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN); and Sandra Welch, chief operating officer of the Sailors’ Society.

WHILE the world is in lockdown, shipping carries on sustaining the vital channels for our economy and keeping supply chains open.

But with thousands of seafarers now effectively stranded either on board ships unable to get off, or on shore unable to start contracts and suffering financially, the restrictions being imposed on crew are starting to raise serious concerns.

There are normally about 100,000 changeovers of seafarers a month around the world.

But with shipping companies continuing to postpone crew exchange and extend employment contracts as the only way of overcoming the travel and quarantine restrictions, the industry has a ticking time bomb on its hands.

Make no mistake — fatigue among seafarers will inevitably result in more accidents at sea.

This is a safety issue and it’s a mental health issue

While the industry is now united in its repeated calls on governments to address the crew change crisis and allow seafarers special status that would facilitate controlled crew changeovers, political priorities are elsewhere right now.

Some countries are beginning to respond to industry calls and this issue is at last reaching the top of the in-tray for governments struggling to triage the most urgent aspects of the Covid-19 crisis daily, but an urgent co-ordinated action is required now for shipping.

We have spoken to most major shipmanagers this week — full details of which will follow on Lloyd’s List after the Easter break — but this week we wanted to focus squarely on the issues surrounding crew mental health and to that end we have drafted in several experts for their views.

Professor Helen Sampson, who led a recent study into mental health issues at sea, sets out the known issues around crew mental health issues, but first we start this week’s edition with a panel of experts talking us through the issues that should be at the top of the entire industry’s agenda right now.

Liz Baugh, is the lead medical consultant at Red Square Medical, which provides medical assistance to maritime businesses; Caitlin Vaughan is a project manager dealing in seafarer mental health issues at the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN); and Sandra Welch is chief operating officer of the Sailors’ Society.

You can keep up to date with all our latest stories on the subject via our special coronavirus page here.

Enjoy the podcast and don’t forget, you can now subscribe to the Lloyd’s List Podcast via iTunes and Spotify, as well as most other podcast providers. And make sure you are registered for a free account on Lloydslist.com so you can receive our Daily Briefing e-mail.

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