Crew members could be at risk as ships are being prevented from taking on supplies because of Coronavirus, says ISSA

Seafarers could be the ones to suffer as ships find themselves unable to take on essential medical supplies and provisions as the extent of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic takes hold around the world, according to the International Shipsuppliers & Services Association (ISSA).

Ships cannot operate without the supplies and provisions they need but the decision by some ports to refuse certain vessels entry because of previous port calls at Coronavirus-affected areas, has meant that some are left to sail off without taking on the vital supplies they may need.

This can mean that seafarers may be left without vital medicines and provisions as well as important spare parts.

ISSA, which looks after the interests of the world’s ship chandlers, is strongly supporting global measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak and said the industry should work together to protect those working ashore as well as at sea.

Saeed Al Malik, President of ISSA, said the association had already issued guidance to its 1,600 members worldwide on how to keep safe when delivering supplies to vessels at port, but he acknowledged that the task facing suppliers was getting tougher because of the restrictions ports were placing on ships visiting their terminals.

“Ships need supplying and while it is important that our members adhere to the health advice and terms and conditions of the ports they are servicing, ship owners and port and terminal operators need to work closely with our sector to ensure their ships and crew are looked after effectively,” he said.

But ISSA members have already complained that in some instances they are being prevented from boarding certain ships and stopped from supplying essential masks, overalls and PPE safety equipment.

ISSA is a non-governmental organisation member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and has already raised concerns over the way some ship suppliers are denied access to ships in some ports of the world.

In an IMO submission last year, first of all to the FAL43 meeting in April and then to the Maritime Safety Committee meeting in June, ISSA told IMO member states that its members continue to experience unwarranted delay, obstruction and unfair charges when they try to enter ports to deliver stores to ships.