At any given time, there are more than 1.4 million seafarers plying the world’s waterways, according to the International Chamber of Shipping. These are the people working on oil tankers and cargo ships that crisscross the globe, carrying everything from electronics to food and medical supplies. Many of them are stranded on board now because of the coronavirus.
“At the peak, it’s been 400,000 seafarers trapped at sea, not able to get home,” says Stuart Neil, the director of communications with ICS, which represents the international shipping industry in more than 20 countries.
“We’ve heard stories of seafarers being on board ships for 17 months,” he says. “That takes a toll on the seafarers mentally as well as physically.”‘Sea Prison’: COVID-19 Has Left Hundreds Of Thousands Of Seafarers Stranded : NPR