Day of the Seafarer

Posted on: 24th June 2020

At the time of writing this note, we are entering the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic which, whilst devastating from a public safety point of view, has raised the profile of the so called invisible “key” workers who sustain our economy and, more importantly, are critical to combating the spread of the virus and assisting in our recovery from it. To this extent, I echo the views of the IMO Secretary General who said that shipping is part of the COVID-19 solution, with the seafarers onboard these ships being integral and ‘key’ to all the global efforts.

The human element was specifically highlighted in my strategic plan for 2020 and, whilst this was focused on the skillset required for the next generation of seafarers, the key component remains the individual. Those knowledgeable and competent persons, SEAFARERS, who ensure that the ship and its cargo, which may include critical relief supplies,arrives safely at the intended destination.

The Bahamas is not only a flag state but, as an archipelagic nation with a limited manufacturing base, is a port and coastal state reliant on these seafarers and their ships for our economic sustainability. Our Government, like those of many other countries, had to balance the health of the Bahamian people with the need to provide humanitarian support when asked to consider allowing the repatriation of seafarers through The Bahamas.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is pleased to advise that we have assisted a number of our shipowners, in a coordinated effort with other governments, to facilitate repatriation and, in terms of The Bahamas, our Government has enabled a number of passenger ships to undertake ship-to-ship, and some ship-to-shore, operations in Bahamian waters to allow for crew transfers for the purposes of repatriation and medical evacuation. We are pleased with the efforts and measures that have been undertaken by our shipowners to safeguard the mental health and wellbeing of the seafarers, and their families, onboard Bahamian flagged ships.

As we look ahead to the coming months, we will need to ensure that we all remain unified in our resolve to care for and support our seafarers. The postponement of IMO meetings has not, and should not, hamper our commitment to the maritime sector’s most important resource . The Day of the Seafarer, on 25 June, is an opportunity for us all to stop and consider just how much the world today owes to those courageous seafarers who have shown their dedication and commitment to keeping essential supplies moving around the globe.

To you the seafarers, we join the international community in saying Thank you.