Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
Every seafarer’s journey is different, but they all face similar challenges. For 2022, the campaign of the Day of the Seafarers, with the theme ‘Your voyage – then and now, share your journey’Life on board ship is tough and often dangerous for seafarers who very often have to endure extreme weather conditions, particularly during the cold winter months. Living conditions have improved over the years, but still cabins are functional rather than spacious and vary in quality and comfort.Seafarers have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic, as the world relies on them to transport more than 80% of trade by volume, including vital food and medical goods, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods across the globe.
For the past thousands of years people from around the world have been sending goods through sea ways. From the clothes people wear to the food they eat, almost everything today is brought to them through ships. The shipping industry, also termed as the invisible industry by many, is crucial to the existence of the global economy, yet very few people have any idea what happens at the high seas. It is an industry which is secretive and fascinating at the same time.
Seafarers are one of those neglected professionals, who have often been overlooked not only by international organizations but also by their own countries. Though most of the seafarers can digest the fact of staying away from friends for few months when sailing, parting away from the family for months together is what tear their hearts apart. Some might have just started their married life while others would have recently experienced parenthood, missing those precious moments with their loved ones. The very nature of international shipping makes it necessary for significant numbers of seafarers to travel by plane to and from ships every month, as their ports of departure or arrival may be thousands of kilometres away from their homes. Many are flown to their departure ports to embark on ships where they live and work for several weeks or months at a time.
90% of the world’s food, fuel, raw material and manufactured goods are delivered by sea. Nearly all things sold world wide are transported through ships, which need skilled seafarers to operate, maintain and repair. What would happen to the world if the ships and seafarers didn’t work? Needless to say, the word would come to a halt and the people would be devoid of their basic necessities. During the pandemic, seafarers have become the world’s forgotten essential workers. As crews on cargo ships, they help move 90% of global trade and form vital links in the world’s supply chains. In addition, many seafarers have serious problems in obtaining repeat prescriptions for medication they take, and many others are not receiving appropriate medical assessments to formally diagnose new medical conditions before onboard primary care is administered to stabilise and/or treat them.
According to a report, more than 100,000 seafarers at any one time either travel or are planning to go through the dangerous piracy affected areas. Until now, several ships have been highjacked and many seafarers have been taken as hostages by pirates. They are tortured, abused, and kept in miserable conditions as prisoners.
Stringent maritime laws have made lives of maritime professionals difficult, especially for those at the management level.Salute toSeafarers who sacrifice several important occasions of their lives being at sea so that the rest of the world do not have to miss theirs.