The Direct Impact COVID-19 Has on Uprising Crewing Challenges in Shipping

While it’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has done its fair share of damages to people and businesses all over the world, the pandemic has majorly impacted the shipping industry, putting its long-term safety improvements at risk. One of the biggest areas of shipping impacted by the pandemic is crewing.

This is an area that lots of small business owners don’t typically think about, but it has a major impact on businesses all over the world. Seafarers in the maritime industry have been stranded at sea for months due to the various travel restrictions mandated to reduce the spread of the deadly virus. This halt in the inability to change crews impact small business owners by disrupting supply chains.

In addition to that, shipping companies themselves are experiencing disruption of ship maintenance, which increases the risk of machine damages and even fires. That alone is one of the biggest causes of insurance claims to date! Whether you own a small business or maritime business, now is the time to invest in business insurance if you haven’t already.

But despite the many disruptions from the pandemic, the shipping industry is still managing to operate under these strenuous conditions. Through these operations, the safety risk is at an all-time high.

Crewing Challenge is Becoming a Serious Safety Concern

For the stranded seafarers, just imagine how tired and fatigued they must be… This increase in physical and mental breakdown increases the risk of error, which potentially leads to accidents, and possibly fatal accidents as well.

As mentioned earlier, people don’t think about the shipping industry, especially business owners. Business owners expect to have their shipments delivered without giving a second thought about the people behind the scenes who make it possible for their business to function and operate properly.

Failure to recognize the role that ships and seafarers play in their business is what you call “sea blindness.”

COVID-19 is Constantly Changing the Crewing Challenge

According to CNBC, there are 1.2 million seafarers globally involved in international trade routes and out of that 1.2 million, tens of thousands of them are trapped at sea. There are 200,000 seafarers needing to go home and 200,000 seafarers at home needing to get on board to replace seafarers needing to go home.

Isn’t it funny how the times have changed? At one point, one of the biggest concerns among shipping companies was determining whether international shipping companies should require workers to get background checks… There’s the threat of theft, workplace misconduct, and the potential for damaging your reputation. But during this pandemic, the least of concerns are background checks… The main concern right now is trying to schedule repatriation for seafarers, but it’s increasingly difficult with the push-back from governments.

As important as seafarers are to the supply chain for businesses all over the world, governments are still not recognizing them as essential workers.

Future Recruitment of Seafarers May Be At an All-Time Low

Industry experts have reason to believe that the way seafarers are being treated now will have a negative impact on future recruitment in the industry. As mentioned earlier, the government doesn’t view seafarers as essential workers, and for people considering choosing a career aboard ships, there’s a higher risk that they choose to go a different direction from feeling that they won’t be protected during these uncertain times.

True enough, the industry is moving forward in the direction of automation but seafarers will still be needed but the economic state is deterring many from looking further into the maritime industry. Typically, there’s some type of incentive involved but you can’t entice potential seafarer candidates with the “unique opportunity to potentially get stranded at sea.”

What Needs to Be Done?

The lack of cooperation from the governments is what’s hurting the physical and mental health of stranded seafarers, as well as their livelihood. There needs to be an all-hands on deck strategy to get the stranded seafarers home. Not doing so is only going to create and strengthen a safety and economic crisis.

If seafarers were recognized as essential workers, the resolution would be easier to attain. The number of mental health and suicide rates has drastically increased since the start of travel restrictions. Fortunately, there are measures being taken to ensure the safety of crew changes and industry-related protocols, but there is still much work to be done.

Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m a freelance writer and small business coach living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

I love small businesses (the backbone of America!), helping them set up processes for customer support and growth, and working on creative marketing messaging.

If you are looking for help with content or content strategy, reach out to me at