Shipping vows to repatriate abandoned crews

Repatriation of abandoned crews was one of the key topics discussed at last week’s International Labour Organization (ILO) Special Tripartite Committee on the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), with owners, unions and regulators in attendance.

The three days of discussion raised a raft of issues including those facing cadets and trainees in gaining access to the industry, the discriminatory practice of mandatory pregnancy testing for women seafarers, barriers to women seafarers gaining access to the industry, automation and digitalisation, recruitment and placement, fair treatment on criminalisation of seafarers, abandonment, shore leaves, isolation and mental distress, harassment and bullying, age discrimination, social communication and abandonment.

The meeting concluded that the roadmap ahead would include stakeholders taking a proactive role in ensuring the facilitation of the repatriation of abandoned seafarers, an issue Splash has been campaigning about for the past three years.

Cases of crew abandonment continue, albeit not in the surging numbers seen in 2016 and 2017. In the past six months the ILO’s database of abandoned ships has added 11 new cases.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Raising a raft of issues that have been raised, that are known, is like beating a dead horse. This horse has died and been revived and beaten to death again. The industry needs to discuss union participation onboard, because clearly talking about it at the international and even the national level is not bearing much fruit. The issue of an international fund was raised in Splash at what point, is that being discussed at the MLC tripartite meeting?

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