MCA restarts inspections The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) started a ‘phased return’ to survey and inspection activity in the UK on 20 July. Port State Control inspections, overseas survey work and the survey and audit of internationally trading vessels will remain under review. Oral exams, both deck and engineering, will be carried out remotely. Operators were asked to approach their classification society to make the necessary arrangements. MCA marine offices are taking bookings.

BIMCO crew change clause BIMCO has released a Covid-19 crew change clause for time charters that allows vessels to divert from agreed routes to get seafarers home. The clause is designed to give shipowners the liberty to deviate for crew changes under tightly defined circumstances. It provides an option for charterers to contribute to crew change costs in recognition of the expense of making a Covid-related crew change.

Ports jobs boost The UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) has launched an ‘open data’ project to boost jobs in coastal communities. Working with the Open Data Institute Leeds, the project will create a largescale resource of data – interactive and open to all – to inform and improve policy making for the UK’s often hard-hit coastal communities.

Technology innovation Eleven maritime technology projects have been awarded grants totalling £1.5m to help promote innovation. The Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRI-UK) initiative is supported by the Department for Transport (DfT). Projects include offshore charging for hybrid and electric vessels and integrating autonomous vessel activity with port operations.

Maersk Covid-19 outbreak Eleven seafarers onboard the containership Maersk Idaho tested positive for coronavirus in June. Under US Covid-19 protocols, the crew were evacuated to a quarantine facility, the vessel was cleaned and a new crew brought aboard. Ten of the positive crew on the US flagged vessel were asymptomatic.

Horns for heroes Ship crew globally sounded their horns in ports at 12 midday local time on 8 July, during Seafarers Awareness Week. Social media supporters used the hashtags #HeroesAtSeaShoutout, #blowyourhorns and #hornsforhope to draw attention to the ongoing crew change crisis.

Crew change video Seafarers and their families can now upload videos of themselves in a message to governments on the crew change crisis. The social media campaign is by the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Videos should cover:

• How you are feeling? What is the impact of not seeing your family?

• How long have you been on board and where are you now?

• What message would you like to send to governments?

Videos should be sent to training@ via WeTransfer.

Cruise still too risky The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has reiterated its advice to British nationals against taking cruise holidays. Danny McGowan, International organiser for Nautilus and member of the ITF’s Cruise Ship Task Force, said: ‘We hope that the Department for Transport and the FCO will review this advice. The cruise industry is an important source of employment for many members and needs to get back to business soon.’

(With thanks to the NAUTILUS Telegraph).

CMA CGM joins fight to stop illicit trafficking in protected species

French container shipping line CMA CGM is joining the fight to stop illicit trafficking of protected species.

As part of new tighter procedures, shippers must expressly state whether a species is covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convention and, where appropriate, provide the requisite export permit whenever any animal or plant goods are carried. In parallel, CMA CGM will draw up a black list of exporters suspected to be involved in illicit trafficking. 

Also announced yesterday, following several suspicions that undeclared rosewood may have been part of cargo shipments from the Gambia, CMA CGM has decided to halt its timber exports from the country until further notice. Rosewood is a protected species, and trade in it is regulated by the CITES. This highly sought-after wood is felled illegally in the region and then exported under various different guises. This illicit trade is heavily implicated in the deforestation of West Africa.

CMA CGM said it had taken the new measures in order to help conserve global biodiversity and not to further imperil the planet’s future.

Shipping’s darkest secret – suicides at sea

Shipping has been accused of covering up the numbers of suicides at sea with urgent calls to be more transparent about one of the sector’s darkest secrets. 

Charity Seafarers UK, while noting an uptick in suicides as a result of the protracted time onboard during the Covid-19 crisis, has hit out at shipping’s lack of a reliable source of information about the scale of this tragedy.

Seafarers UK’s CEO Catherine Spencer commented in a release: “I have been astonished to discover that there is no single source of data on how many seafarers have taken their own lives during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, alarmingly, it appears no one has been or is keeping an accurate global record of seafarer suicides.

The picture is unclear as some suicides at sea may be being recorded erroneously as fatal accidents

“This may be because suicides do not result in claims handled by the P&I Clubs that provide insurance for most merchant shipowners. But that picture also is unclear, as some suicides at sea may be being recorded erroneously as fatal accidents. Unless we know the true extent of the problem, how can we target our support for seafarers and those working on the frontline to support seafarers’ welfare?”

Andrew Craig-Bennett commented on the issue recently, noting that seafarers’ terms of employment are normally written so as to exclude the payment of a death in service benefit in the event of suicide. It is commonplace for suicide to be recorded as accidental death.

Another UK charity, the Seafarers Hospital Society, has stated that suicide has become the “foremost” cause of deaths amongst seafarers during the coronavirus pandemic. The charity referred to a recent article posted on insurance firm Watkins Marine’s website in making the suicide figures claim. 

Steven Jones from the Seafarers Happiness Index told Splash today that while data on self-harm or suicide is not included in index, there is a downward trend across almost all categories when it comes to how crew are feeling. Also, those who have shared more detail are opening up about negative feelings, such as an increase of stress, uncertainty and the pressure of not only not being able to reach home but in feeling helpless when in contact with their families. 

“Being apart and not knowing when they will get home is seemingly and understandably taking a heavy toll. To this backdrop it does not seem hard to imagine that instances of suicide could seem likely to rise,” Jones said. The next edition of the index will be published shortly.  

Spencer from Seafarers UK has called on the International Labour Organization to consider what steps need to be taken, with regard to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, to ensure that all seafarer suicides are accurately identified, recorded and shared with relevant organisations.

 (With thanks for


A petition has been started to press the UK Government to act on crew changes. For more information go to:

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