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Crew Change Crisis

Nautilus Federation calls for roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination for all seafarers

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The Nautilus Federation has called on governments and global organisations to coordinate a worldwide Covid-19 vaccination programme for seafarers and Inland Waterways Transport crew.

The federation, a group of 22 trade unions representing seafarers and inland waterways workers, believes that the current crew change crisis could be mitigated by an international response to vaccination of maritime and shipping professionals.

Mark Dickinson, director of Nautilus Federation, said: “There are specific characteristics of the maritime and shipping industries which call for a specific position encouraging vaccination as maritime and shipping professionals must travel to do their job. This places them at additional risk and to mitigate that risk and to protect employment, vaccination is an obvious step.

“Nautilus Federation affiliates, in supporting this statement, recognise that maritime and shipping professionals - the keyworkers who have kept global supply chains moving throughout the Covid-19 pandemic - will require an international solution to ensure they can access vaccines while they are at sea. Whilst national vaccination programmes progress, governments and global organisations must also recognise this urgent and growing need,” Dickinson said.

It has been widely reported that seafarers have struggled to receive medical attention ashore due to Covid-19 protocols in various countries, and an international response will assist in resolving such failures.

The federation noted that as national vaccination programmes develop, it expects to see a number of countries requiring travellers to have received a Covid-19 vaccination prior to crossing their borders, and so-called Covid-19 ‘vaccine passports’ are likely to be required for seafarers, to enable them to travel to and from their vessels.

As for seafarers who have not received vaccination, they must be permitted to travel to and from their country and their place of work without restriction, including via commercial aviation, for the duration of the global seafarer vaccination programme.

The federation believes that these actions, implemented in partnership with national unions and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), will help to ensure a safe return to normal operations for maritime and shipping professionals worldwide.