Russell & Hill, PLLC

200,000 Merchant Sailors Stuck At Sea Due To Pandemic

Posted on : June 30, 2021Posted By : Russell HillPosted In : Maritime Injury

In late 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic ravished the globe, about 400,000 seafarers were left stranded on ships in waters around the world. In April of this year, 200,000 were still stuck. Mariners are pleading for vaccine access, but the situations are knotted in complex logistics and inaccessible workplaces.

If you or a loved one has been injured on a ship or boat, it is time to signal the experienced Seattle maritime and Jones Act attorneys at Russell & Hill, PLLC. We are uniquely aware of the dangers aboard a seafaring ship, and the complex laws protecting injured seamen.

Storms at sea

The maximum time maritime crews are allowed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to be at sea is 11 months. Since 2020, some of these crews have been left afloat for more than 20 months. According to the IMO, this delay is causing a “crew change crisis.”

Merchant mariners work in months-long on/off rotations. This typically helps prevent mariners from burning out or being susceptible to the dangers of life at sea. There are plenty of lives lived at sea with 90% of the world’s goods being transported by water.

In March 2020, the COVID pandemic caused the shipping ports to lockdown. The massive amounts of cargo carriers crossing oceans were left isolated as crews were prohibited from shore leave. One infected crew member could cause the virus to spread quickly in the ship’s restricted space.

The U.S. Navy established the “gangways up” order, preventing military and civilian sailors from leaving their ships. Nations refused mariners to port. Mariners had to keep working on their respective ships.

The IMO reports this situation has shown the flaws of our global supply chain, and the crew change crisis has become a humanitarian emergency. Increased workloads and the stresses of being at sea result in increased incidents of severe injuries and mental health concerns.

What is the Jones Act?

Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act regulates maritime commerce in the United States. Essentially, the Act requires goods to be transported between U.S. ports on ships built, owned, and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. It provides security and maintenance of the American merchant marine.

This act protects mariners against employer negligence that result in injuries. This general maritime law maintains a mariner’s rights to action against shipowners for any injuries due to the unseaworthiness of a vessel. The doctrine also ensures medical treatment and a daily stipend for recovering mariners who are injured or become ill while working offshore.

When should I contact a lawyer?

Across the coast of the Northwest, maritime workers risk injury and disability which can lead to:

  • Immense medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential

If you or a loved one has been injured offshore, doing one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs in the world, you deserve compensation. The Seattle maritime and Jones Act lawyers at Russell & Hill, PLLC can help. Contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 206-516-2045.

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