It was the sound of solidarity, of hope and support, that emerged from hundreds of ports today, May 1st, as ships around the world sounded their horns in unison at 12 pm to salute the seafarers keeping the shipping industry moving amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Launched as part of the solidarity campaign “Horns of Hope”, the symbolic gesture was encouraged for Labour Day by ports and maritime organizations around the world, among them the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

According to recently released numbers, 1.6 Million seafarers are currently at sea transporting essential goods such as food and medicine to consumers and hospitals across the world. Due to the travel restrictions put in place after the Covid-19 outbreak, many of them are trapped at sea and in urgent need of crew changes.

As an effort to thank frontline-workers for their important work and highlight the need for government support the solidarity campaign “Horns of Hope” was encouraged for Labour Day by ports and maritime organizations around the world, among them the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

“As the world’s standard-setting organisation for the shipping industry, it is heartening to see the Horns of Hope solidarity campaign begun by the UAE has been so enthusiastically adopted by global ports,” Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, said.

This support is of severe importance as seafarers are currently battling their own crisis at sea. Recently published data, compiled by ICS and ITF revealed that 150 000 seafarers are in need of crew changes by May 15th. Due to the travel restrictions put in place after the Covid-19 outbreak, many seafarers have been trapped at sea for weeks. This current situation is threatening to their safety and their mental health. Without actions taken, their number is set to only increase.

‘The new data indicates that 150,000 seafarers are in need of immediate crew change, with the potential for this number to increase significantly until travel restrictions are eased. On Friday 1st May, ships around the world will sound their horns in a salute to these unsung heroes of global trade. We are asking governments to support our seafarers, as they support us, and facilitate coordinated action.’, Guy Platten, Secretary General ICS, said.

Even though it will take a lot of effort and government action to resolve the seafarers’  problems, the Maritime Industry coming together in support of their colleagues at sea, this Labour Day, is surely  a step in the right direction.