The impact of rapid and worldwide spread of Covid-19 throughout the maritime industry, in particular the cruise ship industry, has made global headlines since the outbreak of the global pandemic.
The Diamond Princess was quarantined at the Port of Yokohama in Japan in February, dominating international coverage. Last week the Grand Princess was generating headlines after it was refused permission to dock in California amid speculation that some passengers and crew had tested positive for Covid-19.
This week the coronavirus stricken Braemar made global news after being turned away from several Caribbean ports and spent days searching for somewhere to dock until Cuba agreed to allow the vessel to dock and help transfer those aboard to planes bound for the United Kingdom.
Dave Heindel, chair of the ITF seafarers’ section today called attention to the failure of flag states to protect seafarers’ and passenger’s health during this humanitarian crisis.
Under international law, the onus for the health and safety of the crew and passengers, and for the wider public that could be impacted, is on the flag state governments. Flag states should ensure that companies whose vessels fly their flag abide by national and international legislations since flag states have sovereignty over their vessels.
This is simply insane and unsustainable. If the world continues to accept the Flag of Convenience system in its current form, it should be pointed out for its failures. The world should be concerned about the lack of policies and inability of flag states to react and enact measures in line with their responsibility to protect workers and tackle the transmission of the Covid-19 virus,” he said.