Sharp rise in seafarers failing UK medicals due to mental health conditions

Maritime medics have raised concerns over a marked increase in the number of seafarers failing UK medical examinations as a result of mental health issues.

Commenting on the annual analysis of medical examinations conducted by approved doctors, published by the Department for Transport, chief medical advisor Dr Sally Bell noted there has been a ‘steady and significant rise’ in both the major and minor mental disorders identified during seafarer medicals over the past six years.

Last year, a total of 297 seafarers were issued with failed, temporarily unfit or restricted certificates on the grounds of mental disorders following medical examinations, compared with 117 in 2014.

The number being issued with unrestricted certificates time-limited to less than two years for medical reasons related to mental disorders increased from 127 in 2014 to 325 last year. Read more

Weary sailors pose risk to world merchant fleet: U.N. shipping chief

Hundreds of thousands of weary seafarers stuck on ships for many months and unable to go home due to the coronavirus pose a risk to the safe operation of the world’s merchant fleet, the UN’s shipping chief said.

About 90% of world trade is transported by sea and continued complications with changing over ship crews due to restrictions in some jurisdictions is still affecting supply chains despite an easing of lockdown in many parts of the world.

Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the UN’s International Maritime Organization, said some seafarers had been marooned at sea for 15 months, over the 11 month maximum laid out in a maritime labour convention, which he described as a “humanitarian crisis”.

“This is now a real safety issue, endangering the safe operation of ships. We cannot expect seafarers to stay at sea forever,” Lim told a Capital Link digital forum. Read more

It’s Time to Remove a Century Old Restriction That Hurts Shipping Commerce: Let Foreign Built Ships Transport Goods Between US Ports 

Mostly missing or infrequently discussed in the COVID-19 pandemic is the current oil crash deepening from crippling fuel demand, sending prices spiraling to an all-time low (crude oil future prices turned negative at some point). As Americans continue to work from home – traveling less than ever in recent history due to the crisis – combined with the current oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the industry is in the midst of a predicament never seen before with an oversupply of oil and not enough people to buy it.

Following President Trump’s announcement that he extended his administration’s social distancing guidelines through the end of April to fight the virus– according to Dow Jones Market Data – the biggest percentage drops on record for any month or quarter occurred. The pandemic has truly halted economic activity and global travel, leading to a drop in oil demand incomparable to any other time. Typically, consumers are driving cars more during any fuel price plummet, which helps the energy sector rebound. Read more.