All around the world the pandemic has led to suffering and tragedy, and crew members of cargo ships are in an especially vulnerable position.  Some 300,000 seafarers are working far beyond the end of their contracts, trapped on board by precautions and travel restrictions, but also by red tape and inaction by some ship owners and local authorities.  Many tell us they are exhausted and desperate to get home to their families.
We are doing what we can for seafarers in our Delaware River ports, bringing treats like pretzels and pizza, and serving as personal shoppers for crew members who are running out of everything they need but unable to go ashore.  

In the past several weeks we have been thrilled to see two groups of seafarers on their way to Philadelphia International Airport to begin their journey home.  We only wish that these crew changes would be normal instead of a rare occasion to celebrate.

It’s true that international travel presents challenges, including coordinating the requirements of multiple government authorities and the risk of becoming stranded between connecting flights due to  quarantine or local restrictions,  But we strongly believe the well-being of seafarers needs to be a much higher high priority than it is now. 

Many organizations around the world are advocating for better understanding of the seafarers’ plight and more effective cooperation in effecting crew changes.  Maritime exchanges/associations, ship agents, and seafarer missions have been working on the issue.  Thank you to all who are trying to find solutions to this brutal situation.