Nautilus International is calling on the UK government to assist its members onboard the Bermuda-flagged cruise ship Ruby Princess, which has been quarantined in New South Wales (NSW) by the Australian government.
Following an outbreak of Covid-19 onboard the Ruby Princess was instructed to move from Sydney Harbour to Port Kembla, an industrial hub in New South Wales.
According to reports from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) coordinator in Sydney, the vessel is now in the control of a military health contractor, assisted by the NSW police and the Australian army.
A crew of some 1,100 seafarers remains onboard as of 8 April. All the passengers have disembarked.
Up to 800 seafarers are described as isolated onboard the vessel, with a further 200 said to be experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 but testing of these seafarers has been extremely limited.
Together with the ITF, Nautilus International is calling for its members and other seafarers to be allowed to disembark the vessel. Those seafarers experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 should be taken to a hospital (not to a military installation), and those who are symptom-free should be housed in one of the region's many empty hotels. All seafarers should be assisted in their repatriation.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: 'The International Labour Organization and other world bodies have already called upon national governments to facilitate the safe passage of seafarers around the world.
'Those seafarers being held onboard Ruby Princess are concerned for their own health and safety, and the Australian and NSW governments should understand this. We hope that some humanity will be shown in allowing for these Union members to disembark and to return to their home countries immediately.'
Mr Dickinson has written to the British consul-general in Sydney, requesting the support of the UK government in maintaining the dignity and fair treatment onboard Ruby Princess.
The Union will also raise the issue with the United Kingdom Department for Transport in its regular dialogue throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Nautilus members who are experiencing difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak are advised to contact their industrial organiser for assistance. In an emergency members can also contact the Nautilus 24/7 helpline.
More help and our coronavirus resource hub can be found on our Assistance page.
Union urges immediate solutions for crew change restrictions
Nautilus International is calling on governments and the shipping industry to look for immediate solutions for crew changes as countries begin extending the coronavirus lockdown.
New maritime Covid-19 online assessment tool launched
A new maritime Covid-19 online assessment tool has been developed to support officers responsible for medical treatment on board ships and mobile offshore units.
Stena Line commits to Nautilus officer members as UK and Irish redundancies rolled out
Stena Line has told Nautilus its officer members will not be affected by the planned redundancies and furloughs announced in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Locks on the upper Rhine closed overnight to contain Coronavirus
Locks on the upper Rhine will be closed at night in a bid to stem Coronavirus in Europe.
'Do not lose hope' global maritime charity tells stranded seafarers
Global maritime chaplains have reached out to thousands of stranded cruise crews telling them 'not to lose hope' even if they currently feel 'like prisoners' of the coronavirus pandemic.