One year on: seafarer crisis ‘far from over’

As the one year anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown approaches, global ship management company V.Group is highlighting that too little has been done to end the seafarer crisis.

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the global coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and more than 100 countries had imposed a full or partial lockdown by the end of March. Governments across the globe banned crew from coming ashore amid Covid-19 fears.

Despite calls from the shipping industry to designate seafarers as key workers and allow crew changes, a year on, only 57* countries out of 174 member states have acted. As a result, there are still more than 400,000 seafarers still stranded at sea.

Bjoern Sprotte, CEO of ship management at V.Group, said:

“As the world prepares to come out of lockdown, seafarers are playing an essential role in transporting vaccines, PPE and medical supplies. The fact that we are not vaccinating those who are transporting the vaccine is an outrage.

“From the start of the pandemic we have called for seafarers to be given international keyworker status to allow crew changes, but we still have a long way to go. We have a situation where, a year on, less than a third of countries designate our seafarers’ keyworkers. Governments must act cohesively to end this stalemate and give seafarers the recognition they deserve.”

V.Group recently joined 750 companies and organisations in signing the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change which calls for recognition of seafarers as key workers and priority access to Covid-19 vaccines.

To learn more on our response to Covid-19, please visit


V Group operates out of 60 international offices and employs more than 3,000 people ashore and over 44,000 personnel in marine and offshore roles.

As of 5 February, 57 IMO Member States and two Associate Members had designated seafarers as key workers.