2.1 Overview of COVID-19 Virus: the Maritime Industry’s Recount of the Health Crises
The March 11 2020, declaration of pandemic scale virus worldwide set in motion a series of localised and international restrictions— the IMO Secretary-General (S.G.) per Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14/Rev.1 5 of October 2020 insisted, forced a huge number of seafarers into an indefinitely stay at sea (Sackey et al, 2021). Essentially, the situation buttresses Thetius’ (2020) claim which Sackey et al. (2021) affirmed, that the new Coronavirus was “causing significant problems for the maritime industry, with volatile supply and demand, port closures, and difficulties with crew changes.” Therefore, we examine the generic features of this virus, the current state of the global pandemic and health crises, and how impacting on maritime operations over the period of crises.
According to WHO (2020); the John Hopkins University, the John Hopkins Hospital, Zhou et al., (2020) and the John Hopkins Health System (2020), the newly identified SARS-COV-2 (also widely referred to as Covid-19) is a type of virus that emerged from China in December 2019 resulting in the worldwide pandemic of respiratory infections. Listed symptoms to included “coughs, chills or fever, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, muscle or body aches, sore throat, loss in taste or smell, diarrhoea, headache, fatigue, nausea or vomiting and congestion or running nose” (as cited by Sackey et al. (2021). Thus, infections are said to be severe –leading to eventual death in some cases and the mode of spread is from person to person, whereas diagnoses are solely through laboratory testing. According to WHO (2020), of the number who may develop symptoms, close to 80 per cent recover naturally from the disease without hospital treatment. 15 per cent however become seriously ill and may require oxygen whereas the remaining 5 per cent become critically ill and may need intensive care.
Given that anyone can fall ill with Covid-19, individuals within the age 60 years plus, as well as people with chronic underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, remain at higher risk of becoming seriously ill. It is however unclear, what the long-term effect of covid-19 are and thus remains the focus of many clinical researchers including those within the WHO (2020).
While the global cumulative infection rate stood at 40, 118,333 as of October 18 2020, and the Covid-19 death count at 1,114,749 (WHO, 2020), fast-forwarding to July 16 2021, the global count of total infections stands at 188,655,968 confirmed cases, including 4,067,517 deaths. Africa’s share of confirmed infections at the same time stood at 4,531,636 including 106,074 infection deaths (WHO, 2021). With daily updates (Sackey et al, 2021) suggesting a continuous rise despite progress made, John Hopkins et al. (2020) and the WHO (2020) continue to insist, prevention of infection and spread implies personal and group hygiene such as the continuous and frequent use of running water for hand-wash, the need to bend your elbow over when coughing, staying at home when sick, and when going into public spaces is inevitable, wearing cloth face-covering while social distancing if possible. According to Sackey et al (2021), these legally mandating basic personal hygiene has changed the phase of public-private interactions.
Though early treatment was through therapeutic drugs and nutritional supplements, the raise for the vaccine (Sackey et al. 2021; WHO, 2020; The John Hopkins et al., 2020) spearheaded by the United States of America begun to bear fruit in the last quarter of 2020 after development commenced as early as in March 2020. On November 9, Pfizer of New York and BioNTech (a German company) announced the historic breakthrough of their coronavirus vaccine with an efficacy rate exceeding the 90 per cent threshold. Subsequently, by December 11, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted its first emergency usage authorization for coronavirus vaccines (C. Zimmer, J. Corum and S. Wee (2021)). This was consequentially followed by the WHO, EU and many other states as vaccines development successes began to spread across the pharmaceutical industries worldwide. According to the WHO, July 15 2021 cemented a total of 3,402,275,866 administered vaccine doses (2021).
Within the maritime industry, the cruise ship industry and naval vessels were among the first marine crafts to have been hit with the spread of infection in the early days, suggesting the potential health dangers faced by the seafaring and marine professionals at the time (Sackey et al, 2021). Therefore, per K. Whiting’s assessment of Covid-19 impact in the maritime industry segregated to include, (2020) concerns for the provision of health and safety protection of crew and vessel worksite, the 58 workers who tested positive for COVID-19 at the oil production facility operated by Tullow Oil off Ghana’s western coast in the Gulf of Guinea (Reuters, 2020), is an example of the many incidences observed across the continental waters of Africa and the entire world’s oceans, other concerns included (ii) ensuring crew are not marooned while (iii) preventing a halt in the global commodity supply system (Sackey et al., 2021; K. Whiting, 2020) – suggesting their inter relativity, except under extraordinary circumstances. Consequently, each of these challenges is discussed in subsequent sections of the study.
2.2 Shipping and Marine Operations amid the Covid-19 Health Crises
The role of sea transport for global commodity shipping transport over the past one and half years amid the pandemic cannot be overemphasized— thus, a period that saw unprecedented uncertainty, and chaos across all nations, industries, and commerce. The African coast, just like the rest of the world’s coast, has over the years been flooded with activities that maritime experts have classified into two broad categorical industries namely; the maritime industry (thus refers to traditional commercial marine ventures dedicated to marine cargo transportation) and offshore energy industry (refers to the exploitation of resources such as hydrocarbon resource found under the sea as well as the most recent efforts into offshore wind farm projects) which all constitute the global commercial marine industry (Sackey et al., 2021; Lloyd’s Maritime Institute (LMI) 2018).
While traditional commercial shipping maritime operations simply involve a single or more ship completing a voyage leg of ordinary carriage of goods from one port to another for affreightment, the non-traditional offshore marine operations ordinarily involve several specialized ships of varying capabilities engaged in varying capacities on a single project such as the development of an oil and gas production field under an engineering contract. This goes to suggest that the men and women forming a ship’s crew who dedicated their time and service to trade during the pandemic had to work under very difficult situations on board the various ships. The impact of the covid-19 pandemic could therefore be examined in regards to the ship manning structure of the various ships as well as the type of trade, in this case; reference is to vessel classified under the Safety of Life at Sea convention (SOLAS 74) as passenger vessels, which tends to determine the levels of social, physical and psychological health impact they could suffer. According to the IMO (2021), though there are no universally applicable definitions for the various ship types, specific descriptions and names are applicable per treaties and conventions of IMO such as SOLAS 1/2.
Therefore, ship inspector J. Toepfer (2016) indicated in an online article that the required crew size of any vessel under operation are dictated by the document referred to as the “Minimum Safe Manning Certificate,” which stipulates the minimum number of personnel needed to safely navigate and operate the said vessel from position A to B under the Maritime Labour Convention, MLC 2006. He further noted the requirement did not take into account other considerations such as company administrative requirements. Hence, vessels often do have more crew beyond the required Minimum Safe Manning Certificate to aid in the distribution workload necessary to ensure adequate rest and effective performance from the ship’s crew. According to J. Toepfer (2016), a typical marine vessel crewing is as shown in Fig 1.
For the non-traditional maritime industry, with particular reference to the commercial offshore industry –dedicated to providing global energy commodities such as fossil fuel, and wind energy (DNV GL, 2020); where the specialized marine vessels are ordinarily used in these fields developments. These highly specialised ships are operated beyond the minimum manning requirements during engagement in offshore marine operations (Sackey, 2021) with each crew serving a straight 12 hr shift. And thus reverting to the minimum manning requirement (popularly referred to in the offshore industry as skeleton crew) and routing 8 to 10 hours work schedules with adequate rest periods per MLC 2006 requirement when not engaged in contracted offshore operations. According to Sackey (2021), most of these specialized ships with capabilities beyond simple navigation to maintaining dynamic positions at sea, as well as undertaking delicate ship manoeuvrings, serve as engineering construction platforms on which subsea-to-surface heavy-lift construction, subsea survey, pipeline production, and decommissioning operations are undertaking. Operations may include routing lifting to heavy-lift operations with cranes, subsea surveys and construction installations with remotely operated marine vehicles (ROVs), diving operations and so forth [Sackey 2021; Sackey et al., 2021; LMI, 2018]. Therefore, the manning requirement of these vessels when in operation vary from when not in operations per load of work at the given time. Besides the excess ship crew per the minimum manning requirement, SOLAS 74 classifies the extra men and women who make up the offshore project crew as passengers. Hence, these vessels in line with safety when engaged on projects per the SOLAS 74 convention, are classified as passenger's vessels over the duration of operations. Vessels of this nature can accommodate as high as over 100 plus crew (Sackey 2021), who are all under the command of the shipmaster while onboard –consultation with the offshore construction manager (OCM). With this background, it is easy to appreciate how such covid-19 impact may have on both segments of the commercial marine industry in terms of manning and operations. It is worth noting that due to local content regulations governing the offshore industries of Africa, which serves to increase the labour force of African descent on the various offshore projects within their national boundaries, the pandemic’s impact should be relevantly studied. The health risk infection of Covid-19 therefore may be limited to vessel crew and their interruptions shore maritime professionals (Sackey et al, 2021). It is however unclear at what stage thus whether prior to mobilization, during marine operations (at sea, port and offshore facility locations), and during disembarkation periods, infections occur. These stages in line with vessel crew management are discussed in the proceeding paragraphs.
2.2.1 Pre-mobilization, Mobilization, and Demobilization amid Covid-19: the notable Constraints
Ship crew mobilization is a huge human resource management market within the maritime industry with major third-party players such as V.Crew of V.Group with a network of over 44,000 seafarers (Vouvray Acquisition Limited, 2021), and Worldwide Recruitment Solutions (WRS), which sources crew for various clients across the world. In this case, the above-mentioned subjects are examined concerning the two critical concepts of crew management, thus ship crewing and crew change management. According to Marlow Navigation (2015), the concept of crew management for ships ordinarily incorporates a variety of activities that are handled by crew management companies and their contracted manning agencies. Thus, the responsibility for providing the manning capacity needed by vessels occur under a crew management contract between ship-owner and crew Management Company. These activities encompass the sourcing, recruitment, selection, and deployment process. Other activities include scheduling, training/upgrading programs, and ongoing management of seafarers engaged on the vessels under crew management contracts. Essentially, the crew administrative aspects, such as “payroll services, travel arrangements, insurance, assistance with health, banking & financial services, career guidance, communication duties, as well as team-building and family/social programs” are catered for (Marlow Navigation, 2015). The challenge of obtaining the required sourcing, mobilising and deploying hundreds of multinational contractors around the world (WRS, 2020) particularly in the offshore sector for a project, at the end of the first quarter of 2020 was compounded by the onset of the global pandemic declaration and a ‘tyranny’ of heavy travel restriction (Sackey et al., 2021).
(a) The Concept of Ship Crewing:
Historically, crewing of ships are achieve for the various ship divisions, namely; (1) the deck department (with the primary responsibility of steering, keeping lookout, handling lines in docking and undocking, and performing at-sea maintenance on vessel hull and non-machinery components), (2) the engine department (thus operated machinery and performed at-sea maintenance), and (3) the stewards' department (which does the work similar to hotel staff for crew and passengers) (see Fig 1 detail structure). The current sourcing of seafaring staff with the ranks of ratings for the international shipping industry, is majorly pooled from developing countries, especially the Far East and South-East Asia. This includes the Philippines (Filipino seamen), India and China. Whereas the OECD countries including North America, Western Europe, and Japan serves as a major source for officer recruitment. However, increasingly, officers are now been recruited from the Far East and Eastern Europe (i.e., Ukraine, Russia, Croatia and Latvia). Others include Greece, Japan and the United Kingdom (Seaman Republic (2016)). Africa seafaring as it stands today constitutes only 2 per cent of the world pool (Blédé, 2015). However, researchers have no sighted any data of the total marine professional population on the continent, especially the current population working within the offshore locations and port facility locations who interfaces with ships periodically. Nonetheless, news of positive covid-19 test cases that occurred offshore Ghana (Reuters, 2020) for example, signals the impact of Covid-19 subtended on the industry and the various interfaces despite the stringent protocols that were in place along the crew supply chain. While most industries during this pandemic resulted in remote operations (The European Business Review, 2020), most ships and maritime operations across the board could not function without meeting it’s manning requirements. This includes FPSOs available fuel and energy supply, and cargo carriers transporting the needed food, medicines and consumables.
(b) The Concept of Crew Change:
is regarded as one of the most complicated tasks traditionally carried out at sea offshore locations or anchorages, and within port facilities –mostly during a port calls for ships. This stream of activities is hence, performed against the clock to enable ships to continue with normal operations with the required set of crew on time (José Salama, 2016). According to J Salama (2016), the process of crew occurs typically, when a cargo ship approaches a coastal city to make a port call, contacts a port agency, and make an official request. J. Salama suggests such requests to the port agency are not mostly limited to a change in the crew list. Therefore, J. Salama (2016) defines crew change as a series of activities that “consist of replacing one of the ship’s crew members with another one. This action must be previously authorized by the ship’s Captain and it is outsourced to port agencies.”
According to J. Salama (2016), a typical modus operandi follows: (i) the receipt of Captain’s request for processing at a fee, (ii) the processing involves managing all the necessary documentation (such as port pass, visas for the disembarking crew), (iii)ensuring the coordination of the embarkation and disembarkation of each corresponding crew member, (iv) where necessary, managing the ferry trips between offshore locations and the port as well as the transfer and collection of the crewmember from airport to ship boarding locations, and finally, (v) when necessary, booking of hotel accommodation for the crew member returning to their place of origin due to scheduled flight time. Extra services when required are provided under the terms of service.
These durable processes today have come under very difficult constraints according to SAFETY4SEA (2021), International Maritime Organization (IMO, 2021) and the UK P &I Club (2020), who all bemoaned the Covid-19 situation that had paralysed supply chains and the movement of people. The IMO (2021) insist seafarers are unsung heroes amidst the pandemic, ensuring the transport of more than 80% of trade by volume, including vital food and medical goods, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods were made available across the globe when needed. The IMO (2021) also claims an estimated number of 200,000 seafarers remain onboard commercial vessels and are unable to be repatriated past the expiry of their contracts as of March 2021. Thus averting the ongoing problem remains vital at preventing fatigue and protecting the seafarers’ health, safety and wellbeing (IMO, 2021).
The IMO (2021) further alluded to the difficulties “surrounding repatriation and crew changes” as having had a major negative impact on the shipping industry, which resulted in various calls for immediate interventions. Such interventions included the various IMO resolutions that called on “Governments to designate seafarers as key workers” as adopted by IMO, the United Nations General Assembly and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The IMO (2021) recounts that there have been situations where seafarers are denied access to medical care ashore despite the urgency of treatment needed that was unrelated to covid-19. This raises further concerns for seafarers, the owner, and ship and crew management teams. With the availability and inoculation of Covid-19 vaccines currently ongoing, the situation remains unclear whether seafarers are accorded the needed attention and care sort by their crew management teams from the various national authorities. Bloomberg (2021) and Zeymarine (2021) reported the current threat to the shipping industry as the slow vaccination of seafarers while citing an incident of a ship docking with covid-19 infected Filipino crew at a period the Philippines, India and many other countries struggle with vaccine shortages. Herewith, Belgium is the first country within the European Union to commence a program providing COVID-19 vaccinations for seafarers. The International Transport Federation, ITF affirmed efforts by the Dutch government partnered with shipowners and local unions in vaccinating 49,000 seafarers. Also, efforts are continuing at major ports around the United States (Zeymarine, 2021). According to Michael Safi (2021), developing countries will not achieve mass immunization until 2024— having about 90% of the population within 67 low-income countries. The situation places a burden on the 900,000 individuals from developing countries who constitute the world’s seafaring community (Zeymarine, 2021).
This notwithstanding, it is essential to note in summary that crew management services are an essential part of maritime and ship management-focused on ensuring there is manpower capacity for various activities handled by crew on-board vessels, as well as related administrative issues that shore-based. According to Wilhelmsen (2021), their efforts are expected to comply with the ISM Code, ISO 9001:2014, and ISO 14001:2014 Standards Standards. Det Norske Veritas group (DNV GL) (2021) also note that crew management today makes use of technology. Thus ship crew management software, are today designed to support the crewing process across the entire marine crewing pool while enabling optimization of vessel crew deployment. Thus having access to relevant data and reports accessible onboard and onshore. This development certainly has played a critical role amid the pandemic.
2.2.2 Marine Operations and the Routing Duties of a Ship’s Crew
Given that the impact of Covid-19 over the past year have been felt on all sectors of the world economy, almost at all workplaces and on nearly all forms of operations including the maritime operations, identifying some of these critical operations carried out by seafarers that bares a potential interface to Covid-19. Traditionally, the marine operation responsibilities of a ship's crew are briefly discussed below.
1. General Maintenance Operations
According to Vance, J. E. et al. (2020), ships have general requirement maintenance similar to that of large buildings. Additionally, they do unique maintenance requirements, usually of magnitude obscuring the similarities to shore maintenance. Repairing marine damage from salts of seawater, carried by spray to all exterior surfaces, results in corrosion to common shipbuilding-steels, unlike corrosion-resistant materials that are too expensive for general use. The maintenance is usually by a protective coating to rust control. Hence, cleaning deteriorated surfaces and repainting remains the largest maintenance task for most 20th-century ships. The rapid development of coatings technology capable of protecting steel surfaces as better adhesives that are more resistant to reacting with seawater salts is said to be the major factor leading to a reduction of ship crew sizes (Vance et al., 2020).
2. Machinery Maintenance
Machinery maintenance expected to be carried out along a ship’s propulsion machinery largely depends on machinery type. In the case of a steam turbine propulsion plant, the major maintenance items are associated with the boilers. Given that boiler tubes in the cause of operations may be subject to fouling on the waterside section and the hot gas side sections, they may require periodic cleaning. Again, occasional renewal may be required for the refractory material (“firebrick”) used in a boiler furnace. Essentially, boilers are fired pressure vessels and thus are under legal stricture to be periodic inspected for safety. This requires its removal from service and opening (Vance et al., 2020). Similarly, other machinery types such as diesel propulsion plants, including the main engine due to high temperatures suffer from wear and tear as well as corrosion, and may need extensive maintenance of overhauling and part replacement. The inspection requirements hence, brings in sharp focus the attendances of marine and ship inspectors onboard along with vessel crew amid the spread of the covid-19 virus (Vance et al., 2020).
3. Cargo handling Operations
Vance et al. (2020), asserted that commercial ships are linked by their “trade route” allowing goods to flow by sea link. This comprises both short and long voyages and implies proper care be taken to ensure the goods while aboard the ship remain safe and protected. In turn, these goods must not pose a hazard to the ship and its crew. The ship’s cargo operations as stated earlier including its care onboard remains the responsibility of the chief officer whose is aided by other staff.
Ship-shore transfer Cargo operations: over the years have seen significant advancement in terms of technological support from manually handling, running derrick and rigging gears to the use of cranes. This includes auxiliary and main cranes, and grabbers for lifting various loads and cargo such as grains, cement, clinker, cocoa beans, and bauxite. It is also a commonplace to find a group of men working together to develop the needed force to lift an object far heavier than a single man-load (Vance et al, 2020) (thus manual handling occur both in port and offshore locations). Shipside labour provided by dock labour companies (Ghana Dock Labour, 2021) is a common sight in most African ports, assisting in the discharge and loading of various forms of cargo. Their presence and activities are mostly associated with the duties of supercargo within loading or discharge ports. It is essential to note that cargo handling aboard ships for sea passage depends on the cargo type and the general exigencies of the transportation such as perishable goods carried in refrigerated containers, or freezer vessels. For freezer containers, an external adequate electric power supply arrangement must be made for freezing the goods (Vance et al., 2020).
In the offshore energy industry, however, the number of personnel to the level of maintenance and marine operations vary significantly depending on installed pieces of machinery operational both on deck and in engine room spaces (Sackey, 2021).
2.3 The Current Developments Spearheading COVID-19 Regulations and Policies Focus
Sackey et al (2021), note the rise in national and international restrictive regulations and policies worldwide guided by the WHO’s mandated guidelines (WHO, 2020) to curtail the spread Covid-19 virus. The regulations though varied in the extent of implementation and timelines across the world, can be grouped into; (a) movement or travel restrictions (restricting the movement of persons from place to place.), and (b) Public Order Mandates (includes a need for social distancing, behavioural mandates on personal hygiene and order restriction such as the ban on the mass social gathering, and social businesses) (Sackey et al., 2021).
Within the maritime sector, several resolutions were passed to be enforced by member states of the IMO. These resolutions focused primarily on vessel crew and maritime professionals, by highlighting the concern of; (i) according to them “essential status” privileges in the performance of duty. Thus under the IMO Circular Letter No. 4204/Add. 6 and IMO Circular Letter No. 4204/Add.18 also known as “Key Worker” status call (measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic), (ii) addressing the Crew change crises under IMO Circular letter No. 4204/Add. 14, IMO Briefing 15, and Port State Control (framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel). Others include resolutions for personal protective equipment (CL.4204/Add.15), seafarers certificates (CL.4204/Add.19) and ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship and shore-based personnel (CL.4204/Add.16) (IMO, 2021). The IMO recognizes the violations to seafarers right stipulated under Regulation 2.5 of ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) –stating “seafarers have a right to be repatriated at the end of their contracts,” as they work to end these violations as a result of measure implemented war off covid-19 spread (IMO, 2021). Presently, these travel restrictions are easing out following the successful production and continuous inoculations of people across the world with the Covid-19 vaccine. Within the maritime sector, these developments are seen as good news as they may pave way for the much-needed crew changes.
Conversations have continued concerning violations by Flag and coastal states of the ILO MLC 2006 Regulations 2.5, for instance, providing facilitation of repatriation and replacement of seafarers serving on board ships, which Premti and Asariotis (2021) suggest could be linked to the current state of ratification of ILO Member States. Thus, unlike the ratification of ILO MLC 2006, the IMO Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965 (FAL Convention) is widely ratified. Assertively, some provisions in the latest amendments, have called for recognition of seafarers' identity documents to serve as basic documents providing public authorities with the needed information relating to crew members on arrival or departure of ships. Again, the focus of the related instruments to the Convention seeks a national single window of seafarers' identity documents and their related databases (A. Premti and R. Asariotis, 2021).
These efforts are supported legally by the latest ILO Convention No. 185 on Seafarers' Identity Documents (Revised) 2003, and as amended in 2016. This instrument specifically regulates the issuance and harmonization of seafarers' identity documents issued by the national authorities of their national countries. The document succeeds the earlier ILO Convention No. 108 on Seafarers’ Identity Documents, 1958 with 35 per cent ratification. It is stated that the benefits will exceed the immediate 2 million seafarers working and living aboard international trade ships, who are the potential beneficiary of these documents that conforms to the latest ICAO standards verifiable with the same equipment as an e-Passport. The goal is to “facilitate seafarers' entry and transit to join their ships, their disembarking in ports, and crossing international borders while enhancing security using an internationally recognized document.”
However, less than 20 per cent of Member States have ratified the ILO Convention No. 185 with some implementation challenges that pre-date the pandemic requiring redress (A. Premti and R. Asariotis, 2021). Hence, Premti and Asariotis (2021) recommended labour supplying, flag and port States, consider becoming parties to the conventions and aid in the implementation of the latest relevant versions pertaining to the international legal instruments under the current circumstances.
2.7 Notable Seafarer Experiences from Covid-19 Impacts Observed across the World
Direct infections early on from the Covid-19 viruses, according to the WHO, was the first reported onboard the Grand Princess with over 700 infection and 14 deaths –accounting for over half reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 outside of mainland China (Wikipedia, 2020). Subsequently, there have been dozens of reported infection rates from cruise ships to other commercial ships and offshore platforms. This includes several FPSO units and Rigs in the offshore oil industry of which Ghana’s FPSO Kwame Nkrumah recorded 60 case infections offshore (Rueters, 2020; Eoin O'Cinneide, 2020), and Shell's Nelson rig recording 14 cases of infection (BBC, 2020). Besides media reports suggesting the myriad of problems, the seafarer community and marine professionals are exposed to –highlighted by Sackey et al., (2021) to include risk to their health, employment, finances and overall social well-being, Radic et al. (2020) closely examined the psychological effect on a cruise ship’s crew. They found that aside from the health implication from Covid-19 infections, depression was a profound medical illness among the crew— suggesting seafarers were more susceptible to diverse mental health disorders including depression [Sau and Bhakta, 2019; Radic et al. (2020)]. Radic et al. (2020) subsequently related the condition of depression to concerns of poor human resource management strategies lacking contingency planning for managing health and epidemiological type crisis, and social isolation onboard [Alpert, 2009; Radic et al. 2020]. The situation was compounded by pervasive maroon that cruise ship employees suffered at sea for months [Dolven, 2020; Radic et al. 2020] due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With rising case infection globally, the new challenge set forth a series of restrictions which meant businesses, including MWS and their customers had no option but to adapt to the changing environment of regulations. Detail of these health policies and regulations in the aftermath of Covid-19 is explained below.
2.7 Notable Innovative Solutions associated with Continuous Global Marine Operation
As discussed in earlier sections, the challenges faced by seafarers and marine professionals amid the pandemic are numerous. Some measures implemented to alleviate some of the problems have been diplomatic, thus the call via various policy resolutions (IMO, 2021, Sackey et al., 2021) on various national authorities to accord special concession on restrictive regulation on seafarers and marine professionals. Other measures have been the provision of technical support to aid seafarers’ social interaction against depression. Internet data services were provided to help the industry cope with the strain (Sackey et al., 2021; Thetius, 2020). In the oil and gas industry, accelerated digital technologies like remote inspections and AI-driven operations adapted, help with coping in the crisis including the need to adapt to transitional energy markets emerging (Sackey et al., 2021; The Maritime Standard, 2020).