North Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson has called on the UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, to do more to ensure the safe return of Merchant Navy seafarers unable to return home due to the global health pandemic when decisions not to change crews were taken. Due to port and air route bans for individual travellers, these mariners have been unable to return home, while relief crews cannot be brought in. This means some have been trapped on board their ships for over 120 days!
After being contacted by family members concerned for their loved ones’ welfare, Mrs Gibson said:
“With around 2,000 UK seafarers believed be stranded on board their vessels in various locations around the world, families of these seafarers understandably feel that they are our forgotten key workers. Merchant shipping handles around 95% of the UK’s internationally traded goods, playing a crucial role in our economy.
“With their time on board longer than expected due to the global health pandemic some seafarers have been onboard their vessels for over four months, with no apparent end in sight. There is now growing concern for mariners who find themselves in a very stressful situation, separated from families who fear for their physical and mental exhaustion.
“I have formally raised this with the Secretary of State for Transport, urging that all necessary action is taken to bring these seafarers home to their families at this difficult time.
“My voice has also been added to calls from the UK Chamber of Shipping urging the UK government to become the first in the world to sign up to the International Maritime Organisation's new plan to ensure crew changeovers can resume.
“Given the difficulties seafarers have already endured, getting them home back to their families must now be a priority.”