Over 150k Merchant Marines Have Been Stranded For Six To Eight Months Due To Coronavirus Shutdowns
As of today, there are still over 150k plus stranded merchant mariners on offshore vessels and it’s been that way since the coronavirus shutdowns. It’s beyond the time for countries to loosen their crew change restrictions and bring our loved ones home!!!
My husband is one of the stranded. He’s been there for over six months now, others have been stuck on supply and workboats since January. I’m sure offshore rig worker families are dealing with the same thing.
Yes, I’m thankful he still has a job. I realize we’re extremely fortunate to have an income right now, considering so many people have lost their job. I imagine families of stranded offshore rig workers can relate. It’s not all about the money though.
It’s the missing part that hurts. It’s the not knowing when we’ll see each other again that eats away at your very soul. And, it’s the fact the world’s governments can’t get their shit together and come up with a plan to let our seafarers come home that pisses me the fuck off!
No Crew Changes Mean No Relief and No Pay for Hundreds of Thousands of Mariners Out of a Job
Overseas crew changes take place when a relief crew is flown into any particular country’s port. However, due to coronavirus restrictions, the crew changes aren’t happening. Pleas from the Maritime Industry to governments have fallen on deaf ears. The result, our seafarers from deckhands to captains have been stuck on boats, 24/7, with no relief for months on end–and with no end in sight!
On the flip-side, coronavirus crew change restrictions mean thousands upon thousands of merchant mariners aren’t being paid and haven’t been since the shutdowns went into effect–all because countries won’t allow them to come and relieve the stranded workers. Their situation is far, far worse than those of us merely missing our loved ones. The levels of hopelessness and despair, I cannot fathom.
The governments imposing flight restrictions still get their supplies. Oil, food, household goods, and more are brought into those same countries from offshore vessels. As long as they get their supplies, they’re good, fuck the people stuck on boats who deliver the goods.
The country my husband currently works from does have some inbound and outbound flights, it’s the same in other countries. However, those flights have to be arranged and it’s not always easy.
A worker on the supply vessel with my husband had a heart attack in May. He survived, thanks to my husband rushing him to shore and to a hospital. After he left the hospital, the employer arranged for him to stay in a hotel room until he could be flown home–the company still paid his day rate, on top of the hotel room. It was the first week in August before the country arranged an outbound flight for him to go home.
Quarantining the Already Quarantined
I’m not sure about the requirements for other countries, but even if my husband and his crew could get off the boat today, it would still be at least a month before he could come home. Why? Quarantines.
Once a relief crew is brought in, the country requires they be quarantined in a hotel for 14 days. After their two weeks is up, the crew change would take place but the present crew–who have already been on the boat for over six months–have to be quarantined for 14 days!
Even then, the whole issue of a flight home would be up in the air. Thankfully, their day rates would still be paid, as well as the hotel stays and flight home.
Loosening Restrictions is Necessary for the Mental Health of Our Seafarers
For the physical and mental well-being of stranded merchant mariners, alone, the coronavirus crew change restrictions need to be loosened. Seriously, this whole thing is beyond ridiculous.
Even for the healthiest of individuals, the amount of time spent on an offshore vessel with no relief can become stressful. For the sake of morale and mental health, I hope other captains are doing the best they can to keep the spirits of their crew, up.
My husband (master captain of the ship) and his crew are amazing ass troopers. During their off-hours, they enjoy throwing balls, learning new languages, reading, watching tv, and communicating with their loved ones. Still, they miss their families and freedom. There’s no place to go, they’re just surrounded by sky, water, and an outline of land. I would go insane.
Offshore Families are Strong, We Just Miss Our Loved Ones
Offshore industry families are made up of strong spouses and partners. Some have little ones at home that miss their moms or dads. We know how to deal with a few weeks or a month of being apart from them, and they from us.
We’re not military families, though. We didn’t sign up for this shit of being separated for months on end! Hell, my husband and I are ex-Navy and we left that life for a reason. We didn’t want to deal with six-month med-cruises anymore.
My heart truly goes out to offshore families. We are all in this together. As strong as we are, down days and meltdowns will happen. I especially feel for those of you with children. Between coronavirus restrictions affecting your job and schools being closed, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in your shoes.
I’m fortunate in that my husband and I have been married for over 28 years and our children are grown. I do have a few friends and my mother-in-law here for emotional support, and my hubby, mom, sister, and children to call on.
We speak and text each other every day, well except on the rare occasions (about 4 times so far) where we are too down to maintain even texting conversations. I’m an introvert, but this extended period of having an empty home, outside of our two Boston terriers, has me feeling lonely, often. But, I’ve taken my hubby’s advice and I’ve been focusing my attention on trying new recipes, painting again, and writing. Anything to keep me from getting depressed over missing him.
Are you the partner, child, or spouse of the over 150k plus stranded merchant mariners? Has your seafarer been without work because they aren’t allowed to crew change due to restrictions? How has your life been impacted? What have you done to lessen the pain of missing them? How are you managing family life?
Please respond in comments and share your story, or link us to your blog. Keep your chins up, we have got this!