Effects of COVID-19 pandemic on seafarers and shipping
Project Duration
November 2021
December 2023
Research Priority Area
Maritime Social and Labour Governance
Project Website

Shipping is world trade and seafarers are the human components allowing the physical transport of cargo. Despite being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, maintenance of cargo flows demonstrated the resilience of the sector. However, this resilience implied the deployment of control measures in ports which had an impact on seafarers.

These measures have often transformed sea workers into threats, forgetting their human basic needs. For example, numerous interdiction measures banned them from shore access and excluded them from basic medical assistance in violation of international Conventions.

Stuck on steel ships, they have been unable to reunite with their families for long periods. They work(ed) as usual 24/7 but without visibility of their repatriation. The “out of sight out of mind” attitude has serious health and well-being impacts on seafarers and their families; and, unveiled a certain lack of empathy for seafarers and weaknesses in treating them humanly. This may have long-term consequences on their health and influence their willingness to remain in the profession.

The study explores deeply the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on seafarers and shipping, in response to the challenges that the pandemic has posed to sea workers and their families and its detrimental impact on the future of shipping. The overall ‘research question’ is ‘what the pandemic impacts seafarers and actions implemented by maritime stakeholders look like and how can shipping prepare for future disturbances.’

The primary objectives of this project are to:

  • Map the impact of COVID-19 on shipping;
  • Analyse the impact of the pandemic and biosecurity measures put in place to minimize the spread of the pandemic across a selection of Swedish ports and outside Sweden;
  • Explore the overall impact of the pandemic on working and living conditions of seafarers including seafarers’ mental health and well-being and their families, and;
  • Study the effectiveness and adequacy of mechanisms and actions put in place by maritime stakeholders to support seafarers during the pandemic.
Principal Investigator
Raphael Baumler
Professor, Head of Maritime Safety and Environmental Administration
Co-principal investigator
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Project Officer
Maria Carrera Arce
Lecturer (Research/Maritime Safety & Environmental Administration)