This article featuring Victor Restis made me think of a new slogan in the face of COVID-19…#Seafarer Strong! This article highlights how the shipping industry was affected by the global pandemic and the steps it took to save supply chains that connect the world with goods and essential products. You imagine global supply chains as this giant machine operating in the background, not really realizing the personal security it provides. Knowing I can run to the store and pick up items I need lives unconsciously in the back of our mind. Now, it takes on a entirely new meaning knowing that over 2 million seafarers and maritime personnel are part of the machine that helps move 90 percent of global trade. Mind blowing!
There are more than 150K seafarers that were essentially trapped on ships at sea as the virus shut down ports and distribution points. 150K people out of 1.2 million on board 65K vessels seems like a small percentage, but it demonstrates that even a small kink in the global trade system can cause massive problems across the globe. Crew members work limited hours to ensure safety, but if those crews cannot be relieved and replaced by well rested crews, then more dangers lurk, safety is at risk and operations can further cease. The article points out that if the stranded crews are forced to continue working the ships operations without proper sleep, collateral issues arise such as poor health and depression. This is just one area of concern when it comes to the effectiveness of crews working aboard large cargo vessels.
Thankfully, nearly immediate measures were taken to course correct the roles of seafarers by categorizing them as essential workers. This helped keep the rotation of staff in place, which then led to continual operation of most warehouses and port authorities needed to facilitate the arrival and departure of goods. We certainly do owe them a debt of gratitude and hope that leaders within the globally shipping and logistics industry, like Mr. Restis, are able to come together to innovate and implement new safety measures and protocols that protect our network of global trade and strengthen each touch point within the supply chain process. If this virus has taught us anything, is that we truly rely on each other as individuals, as nations, and as connected co-habitants of planet earth. My hope is that we can find new ways to prevent further disruptions and protect the systems we rely on with our very lives.