Seafarers around the world are facing a humanitarian and safety crisis. 

Hundreds of thousands of maritime workers have been left 'stranded' at sea, unable to dock in ports or return home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

Forbidden to leave their ships, these seafarers have faced months of uncertainty, isolation and hardship. In this way, the global pandemic has highlighted the plight of seafarers and their importance to our day-to-day lives.

Seafarer experiences during COVID-19 

Chief Engineer Cezar Gabriel, and one of the photographers in Exposure: Life at Sea, spent an additional three months at sea last year after his ship was unable to dock in Brazil due to the pandemic. Listen to his story below. 

In summer 2020, the International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarers’ Trust launched a photography competition, 'Still at Sea', which invited serving seafarers to document their lives at sea during the coronavirus pandemic.

Explore their images and stories

COVID-19 Oral Histories 

90% of world trade is transported by sea. Many of the things we take for granted would not be possible without the work of seafarers, yet their contribution during the pandemic is rarely acknowledged. 

The National Maritime Museum wants to change that. We are partnering with two leading maritime welfare organisations, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and Mission to Seafarers, to record the experiences of seafarers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

This oral history project will enter the Museum collection as a permanent record of the challenges that seafarers have faced throughout the pandemic. Their testimony will ensure that the voices of COVID-19's 'forgotten keyworkers' are heard. 

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Image shows a man in an orange work suit doing a handstand on an icy deck

The Neptune Declaration

More than 700 organisations and companies have signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing, urging governments and international bodies to find a solution to the current crisis.

Now the National Maritime Museum has pledged to add its name to the declaration. Join us in our support of the world’s seafarers.

International Day of the Seafarer

in 2021 the National Maritime Museum and Mission to Seafarers hosted a conference exploring seafarer health and wellbeing, and an evening event with speakers discussing life at sea in the contemporary maritime industries. 

As an organisation we are committed to raising awareness of the valuable role played by seafarers, further strengthened due to the current crew change crisis. We have also signed the Neptune Declaration, which calls for an international commitment to resolving the crew change crisis as soon as possible and building a more resilient maritime supply chain. 

Main image: Ama Namin by Neil Patrick M. Sison - courtesy of Still At Sea, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust photography competition