Industry and human rights leaders sign a worldwide call to action to end the unprecedented crew change crisis caused by COVID-19.

LR has signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change with more than 300 organisations and companies throughout the entire maritime supply chain. The Declaration recognises that signatories have shared responsibility to ensure the humanitarian crisis of stranded seafarers is resolved as soon as possible.  

The Neptune Declaration draws attention to an estimated 400,000 seafarers left stranded on ships beyond the expiry of their initial contracts, many unable to leave since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Their plight poses a threat to the safety and smooth running of the global maritime supply chain which carries up to 90% of global trade.   

The Declaration defines four main actions to facilitate crew changes and keep global supply chains functioning:  

  • Recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to COVID-19 vaccines 
  • Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice 
  • Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes 
  • Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers 

“Despite efforts being made by international organisations, unions, companies and governments around the world to resolve the crew change crisis, further action is urgently required. It is vital that we safeguard and protect the committed key workers who maintain our global maritime supply chain and have been on the frontline throughout this pandemic,” said LR CEO Nick Brown.   

The plight of seafarers was highlighted in recent LR, UK Chamber of Shipping, Mission to Seafarers and Safety at Sea survey on maritime workers’ well-being throughout COVID-19, finding that many who are providing essential services are feeling undervalued. Only 8% of seafarer respondents strongly agreed with the statement ‘I feel valued in my role’.

Other signatories to the Neptune Declaration include A.P. Møller - Mærsk, BP, BW, Cargill, COSCO, Euronav, MISC, NYK, Rio Tinto, Shell, Trafigura, Unilever and Vale.  

This comes shortly after Together in Safety, a coalition of leading shipping organisations including LR, focused on improving safety standards across the maritime industry, published its new report highlighting how the shipping industry can unite to further improve safety. The report includes case studies and examples of best practice, which demonstrate the value and benefits of shared safety learnings and resources.