- Title: Captain, pull out my teeth! Desperate times for sailors stranded by pandemic
- Date: 9th July 2020
- Summary: HAMBURG, GERMANY (JULY 9, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN OF WORLD'S LARGEST CONTAINER SHIP "EMMA MAERSK," JENS BOYSEN, SAYING: "In some countries, crew changes are completely suspended. That means the crew is not allowed to go either ashore nor be relieved." PORT WORKERS NEAR CRANE (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN OF WORLD'S LARGEST CONTAINER SHIP "EMMA MAERSK," JENS BOYSEN, SAYING: "That might be due to various reasons, either because in their home country it's not possible to get the visa or the certificates renewed or there are no flights available, or the third option is that the arriving country does not allow crew changes." PORT WORKERS WALKING UP STAIRS ALONG SHIP'S SIDE (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN OF WORLD'S LARGEST CONTAINER SHIP "EMMA MAERSK," JENS BOYSEN, SAYING: "Since we have a duty, we have a mission as seafarers to keep the supply chains running we could make a difference just by continuing to sail. Since we could not go home anyway that was the best we could do. And now we need the support from the global society to get us relieved. We have done our job. Now it's the job of the governments around the world to make crew changes possible so we can get home to our families after this very long time." PORT WORKERS HANDLING CARGO (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN OF WORLD'S LARGEST CONTAINER SHIP "EMMA MAERSK," JENS BOYSEN, SAYING: "I will not return to this ship for this year. I will take my paternity leave and my vacation I have earned and then I take a good, long vacation after these times and I think it's also well deserved." PINEAPPLES AND TOMATOES IN CRATES / PORT WORKERS SMILING
- Embargoed: 23rd July 2020 17:50
- Keywords: captain cargo ship coronavirus emma maersk stuck at sea for months
- Location: AT SEA / HAMBURG, GERMANY
- City: AT SEA / HAMBURG, GERMANY
- Country: At Sea
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA008CM36RLZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Jens Boysen disembarked one of the world's largest container ships on Thursday (July 09) after 167 days at sea when he has acted not only as captain but also as doctor, dentist, mental coach and entertainment director for his stressed-out crew.
Almost 200,000 seafarers like Boysen are stuck onboard merchant ships, some for more than a year, because coronavirus travel restrictions make it almost impossible to rotate crews, according to the U.N.'s International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The crews, who come from all over the world to meet their ships, suffer the mental stress of not knowing when they can return home, their plight worsened by a lack of access to medical treatment.
Boysen, captain of the Emma Maersk, said two crew members developed toothache but were not allowed to leave the ship.
"I got medical advice, and then I pulled the teeth out," Boysen said, standing on the dock in Hamburg after bidding his crew farewell. "It felt almost like a war situation," he added.
The IMO has called the situation a "humanitarian crisis" and maritime welfare charities have warned of an increase in suicides by seafarers. Last month, Pope Francis paid tribute to the stranded seafarers in a special video message, saying they were "not forgotten".
Boysen, a German national, finally left the ship in Hamburg on Thursday along with two other crew members, after passing up an opportunity to leave the ship in April when it last docked in the same city.
To keep up the crews' spirits, he organised karaoke tournaments, bingo and piggy-back races.
About 90% of world trade is transported by sea, and Boysen said immigration and shipping authorities should agree exemptions from lockdown measures for seafarers to ensure crews can be changed and supply chains protected.
The captain, who has accrued a vast amount of holiday along with some paternity leave, has no intention of taking a brief vacation - he's taking the rest of the year off.
"I really need a break with my family."
(Fabian Bimmer and Michele Sani)
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