Coronavirus strands merchant ship crews at sea for months

Virus Outbreak Stranded at Sea
Virus Outbreak Stranded at Sea
Posted at 5:08 AM, Jun 04, 2020

ATHENS, Greece - Countries across the world have imposed lockdowns, shut borders and suspended international flights to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Merchant ship crews have become unintended collateral damage.

About 150,000 seafarers are stranded at sea in need of crew changes, according to the International Chamber of Shipping, whose secretary general describes them as a “forgotten army."

Roughly another 150,000 are stuck on shore, waiting to get back to work.

With more than 80% of global trade by volume transported by sea, the world’s more than 2 million merchant seafarers play a vital role.

International shipping organizations, trade unions and shipping companies are urging countries to recognize merchant crews as essential workers and allow them to travel.