Dispatches No. 478

Dear Members,

We are trying to concentrate on positive messages in these challenging times. Therefore, please be informed that Hong Kong is now open for crew changes.

Poland has issued special regulations that allows seafarers to return home and WITHOUT the need to quarantine themselves.

Qatar Airlines are continuing flying around the world and they seem to be the airline of choice for those members who are going ahead with crew changes.

The Commission has published a guidance document ‘on the implementation of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU, on the facilitation of transit arrangements for the repatriation of EU citizens, and the effects on visa policy EU travel ban’. You can find the document at https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/20200330_c-2020-2050-report_en.pdf.


Internal EU Borders: The Commission also published guidelines ‘concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers during COVID-19 outbreak’ which can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=22473&langId=en


It states clearly that the continued free movement of all workers in critical occupations is essential, including both frontier workers and posted workers. Member States should allow workers to enter the territory of the host Member State and have unhindered access to their place of work if they exercise in one of the following occupations: transport workers, maritime and inland navigation workers, and fishermen.


FAQs re: coronavirus – please consider sending it out to your ships:


1)My contract has ended, but my company can’t repatriate me due to port restrictions. Is my contract extended until I am repatriated?


Many seafarers are being asked by their companies to extend their contracts by at least a month. With many countries (such as India and the Philippines) locking down, it is probably best to consider remaining onboard and extending your contract as it is unlikely that you will be able to fly home even if you can leave the vessel and exit the port.


Extending the contract should only be used with appropriate safeguards to protect seafarers, such as obtaining their consent and ensuring that they do not lose their accrued annual leave or right to repatriation. Check with your flag state to see if shipowners can extend this flexibility to you without being in danger of breaching their MLC obligations.

Your employer will be liable to pay you for any such extension of your tour of duty.

During this period, you will still be entitled to all your other MLC/Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA) rights.  Check with the flag state if in doubt as to MLC implementation on your ship.


2) I have managed to leave the vessel, but I can’t leave the country due to no flights to my home country. Will I still be paid by my company?


Under the MLC, your company should be responsibly repatriating you and for paying you until you reach home in accordance with your SEA. If for any reason your company is not paying for your accommodation costs while you wait for your flight you should contact your union if you are a member.


If the shipowner does not pay for your repatriation and associated expenses, such as accommodation, food, medical bills, etc. then you may need to call the MLC financial security provider (details available onboard, but usually the P&I Club) to cover these costs. You can also contact your embassy or consulate. Local seafarer missions may also be able to assist.


3) I am due to start a new contract and join a vessel, but I cannot leave my country.


Shipowner organisations and unions around the world are trying hard to get governments to allow free movement of seafarers for crew changes. Stay in contact with your crewing agency or company, and take advice from your union.  The industry is doing its best to keep ships and trade moving, and consequently trying to facilitate the movement of seafarers.


4) I am concerned about my family back home. What can I do?


It is essential for you to stay in regular contact with your family back home. If you are onboard, your company and/or the internet provider may provide extra data or calls at a free or reduced rate. If you are worried and feel anxious, then contact SeafarerHelp or one of the seafarer welfare missions.


5) I am onboard, and I think that I have a fever. What should I do?


You have a duty to protect yourself while at sea, and a duty to protect others who may be affected by your activities.


You should follow the general advice published by the World Health Organization (WHO), The International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), and The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). There may also be a company policy (check their website) and perhaps flag state advice.


You should also seek advice from the onboard medical officer and inform your line manager/master.


6) I am feeling depressed and anxious about the coronavirus pandemic.


It is only natural to feel anxious about the current situation. If you are onboard, share your concerns with your fellow crew. Don’t keep checking news websites. ISWAN has produced a video that provides guidance and information on what you can do to manage your mental health – see https://bit.ly/ISWANMH1


There are organisations that you can contact, such as SeafarerHelp or the seafarer welfare missions.


7) Are seafarer centres still open?


Unfortunately, most of the seafarer centres around the world are now closed. However, many of the chaplains and welfare workers are still working to support seafarers. To contact a local chaplain or welfare worker, please see the seafarer centre directory at



With thanks to Charles Boyle of Nautilus International for help in producing these FAQs




Please see youtu.be/rB_Nyk0LRSo for the link to the video on YouTube. Can we appeal to you to make this video available for your seafarers on board of your ships (allow free download) and their families at home by posting on your website?


We have placed it on our InterManager Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.


Seafarers can also access ICS excellent mental health self-help guides and information on COVID-19 at https://www.seafarerhelp.org/en/health-well-being/seafarers-health-resources.


Please be informed that ISWAN is fully operational with staff working from home. SeafarerHelp is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.



For the attention of IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO


This email is to kindly remind you that the deadline for submission of nominations for the 2020 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is on Wednesday, 15 April. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries about the nomination process (please refer to the email and links below).


We look forward to receiving your organisation’s nomination(s).


Many thanks and kind regards,


External Relations Office



Last week:

  • Working on COVID-19
  • Working on Nigeria latest hijack case



This Week:

  • Working on COVID-19
  • Working on Nigeria latest hijack case



Looking forward:

All travel cancelled 

Being quarantined in IOM for two weeks from this coming Friday.



Mt Kilimanjaro August 2020

We are taking on this giant of the world in August 2020, and we are looking for participants now so that training can begin and we can build a good plan for fundraising.

This is certainly one of life’s achievements and will not be forgotten easily!

Minimum sponsorship amount £5000.

Brochure and video being created.


I hope you’re well and will join me in a canoe or on a trek, maybe?


Kindest regards

Rebecca Bridgen

Events Fundraiser

Sailors’ Society

+ 44 7712 404130




Brgds Kuba

Capt. Kuba Szymanski

Secretary General

+44 7624 498 266




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