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Sounding the horn for seafarers

Seafarers seldom feature in the thinking of the average person. But without them, life would be very different

The International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation have made a call for a show of support for the hidden heroes of shipping during the pandemic

THE coronavirus pandemic has raised awareness globally of the value to society of many of the unsung heroes that often go unnoticed.

Chief among these has been the healthcare workers who have come to the fore in this time of crisis. Not only doctors, but nursing staff, ambulance drivers, hospital porters and care workers have been recognised as delivering a vital service in an extremely challenging environment.

That service has been noted. In the UK every Thursday evening, millions take to the streets, windows and balconies to show their appreciation through the “Clap for the National Health Service” initiative, with similar events taking place around the world as populations show their appreciation for these often overlooked essential workers.

There is another group of hidden workers, however, that is keeping vital supply lines open and which also goes virtually unrecognised, in both good times and bad.

On the oceans of the world, many thousands of seafarers already live in a state of extended lockdown, kept from their families for months at a time, often with little opportunity to communicate with those not on their ship.

Thus it ever was for seafarers, a particular breed of hardy individual that can forsake the comforts of home for the rigours of life on board.

But many now are working beyond their contracts, due to the difficulties involved in disembarking them from their vessels and the near impossibility of repatriating them to their home countries.

As global economies go into freefall and supplies of some goods run short, it is the seafarers who drive the engines of global trade. It is their sacrifices now that feed us, clothe us and keep us warm, as they have done for generations.

To mark that contribution, the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation are calling on seafarers across the world to sound their ships’ horns when in port at 12.00 local time on International Workers’ Day on May 1.

“Our seafarers are the unsung heroes of global trade and we must not forget the contribution that they are making every day to keep our countries supplied with the goods that we need,” said ICS secretary-general Guy Platten. “The sounding of a ships’ horn in ports on the day that the world recognises the contribution of workers is an ideal way to remind us all of their sacrifice. They are all Heroes at Sea.”

The #HeroesAtSeaShoutout has support across the world from New Zealand to Canada, with a number of large fleets already committed to joining in.

Lloyd’s List offers its full support to this gesture of recognition of these bastions of our industry.

Along with the healthcare workers and so many other overlooked workers, seafarers are among the true heroes of this crisis and we could not do without them.

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