The UK Chamber of Shipping spoke with the maritime minister Kelly Tolhurst yesterday and demanded an immediate multi-million pound government support package to ensure the shipping industry can continue to bring in the food, goods and medicines the UK will need to fight the coronavirus.
After the conference call, UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Bob Sanguinetti said: “The world is facing a monumental crisis. Shipping is the lifeblood of our nation and we must do what we can as an industry to keep our supply lines open for a strong and healthy UK. Shipowners will adapt to meet the ongoing coronavirus challenges head on. It will mean changes to infrastructure, employment and processes on ships and in ports, but it will only succeed with the necessary leadership and support from government today.”
To keep freight moving and to enable the UK to continue to function, the UK Chamber of Shipping is specifically asking for help with hugely reduced cash flows resulting from dramatic loss of business, to keep freight flowing into the country; support with seafarers’ salaries in the short term to prevent job losses and loss of expertise; grants to assist with the additional costs of virus provisions which operators have put in place; grants to deal increased costs such as overtime, agency fees and any other cost associated with providing sufficient crew.
On top of that the chamber has demanded clear guidance to ports and local health authorities to allow ships to continue trading, and for the swift disembarkation / repatriation of crewmembers.