The International Propeller Club of the United States joins is calling on all governments to ensure and safeguard the protection of seafarers, many of whom are still dealing with the effects and impact of the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For far too many mariners, crew changes and rotations, and the freedom to leave their ships, are still largely unavailable to them and steps must be taken to address these issues not only for humanitarian reasons but to prevent the mariner crisis from becoming even worse.

In addition, as the world reacts to the attack by Russia against Ukraine, we join with the International Transport Workers Federation, the International Maritime Organization, and other organizations in drawing attention to the situation facing Ukrainian seafarers. As recently reported by the Financial Times, according to estimates, “55 to 60 percent of Ukraine’s 80,000 seafarers are currently on ships, about 20 percent want to return to Ukraine to fight against Russia, and a significant number fear they will be arrested – or worse – if their ships enter Russian ports.” The suffering inflicted upon the Ukrainian people is horrific and we must not and should not compound this situation but instead, take every precaution to protect mariners and their vessels from sailing into ports in areas where they are likely to be seized.

I am pleased to report that the International Propeller Club of the United States joins with American merchant marine veterans in calling on the U.S. Department of Defense to include the U.S. merchant marine in its annual Memorial Day tribute concert to be aired by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

The facts relating to the merchant marine and World War II are well known: from the beginning of hostilities through VJ Day, approximately 6,830 mariners were killed, another 11,000 were wounded, and more than 600 were taken prisoner. As General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower stated in 1945: “The officers and men of the merchant marine, by their devotion to duty in the face of enemy action, as well as the natural dangers of the sea, have brought us the tools to finish the job. Their contribution to final victory will be long remembered.

The American Merchant Marine Veterans Association is asking that the merchant marine and American mariners be recognized and included in the Salute to Services during the airing of the concert. We join in their request.

C. James Patti
International Propeller Club of the United States
Fairfax, Va.