Our response to the pandemic

Our response to the pandemic
Published 11 May 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in one of the worst shipping crises the world has ever seen – putting lives and global trade at risk. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, we have made every effort to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our seafarers and shore-based employees.

Here are some of the ways we supported our more than 24,000 seafarers:

  • We believe vaccination is one of the most practical solutions to crew change challenges and we’re pleased to say that about 84% of our seafarers have been fully vaccinated thus far while our target is to reach 100%
  • At the height of the pandemic, oxygen concentrators were found to be useful in some serious cases so we decided to outfit every one of our vessels with one on board. To date 350 or 59% of our vessels have an oxygen concentrator on board
  • When restrictions made commercial travel near to impossible, we joined with our industry peers and partners to charter 320 flights to help stranded crew members get home safely to their loved ones
  • We have distributed close to 60,000 face masks to ships calling the Hong Kong Port
  • We partnered with Sailors’ Society to establish a multilingual 24×7 helpline (Crisis Response Network) available to all our seafarers at any time of day when they find themselves in a time of need
  • Our FLEET Care team was established before the pandemic, but we recognised the importance of our seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic so we expanded the team. They are dedicated to ensuring the holistic wellbeing and conduct regular outreach to seafarers and their family members, providing emotional, social, and psychological support via phone calls, emails, instant messages. They also host engagement activities and produce a digital newsletter capturing moments and highlights from the daily lives of our seafarers and their families to help them stay connected.
  • We have two in-house clinical psychologists who are part of the FLEET Care team and to provide support and treatment to anyone in need
  • To ensure seafarer training could continue despite the pandemic, Fleet Management Training Institute (FMTI), our leading maritime training centre in India, quickly went digital: training courses used cloud-based simulators, course materials were created as QRcoded data packages which could be downloaded on any mobile device, and collaboration platforms like SharePoint, Zoom and Microsoft Teams were adopted. Leveraging technology allowed FMTI instructors to work around the many rules and restrictions that prevented travel and gathering in-person without compromising the quality and effectiveness of the critical training required for our Indian seafarers.

We also took steps and measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our more than 1,000 onshore employees:

  • All our offices provide ample supply of hand sanitizer at the main entrances and in common areas and meeting rooms
  • We regularly scheduled professional services to disinfect office areas such as telephones, door handles, stairway handrails and elevator buttons and indoor air sanitation
  • Digital technologies were leveraged to aid productivity and communication including the use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint
  • We enforced a strict policy to restrict external visitors
  • We implemented social distancing measures within all offices with posters and notices to ensure colleagues were informed
  • In FLEET’s Hong Kong office, our canteen (The Galley) continued to provide employees with the option to have their daily meals which are offered at a subsidised cost
  • We launched an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide employees and their immediate family members with free, confidential counselling and consultation services with specialized professionals on a broad range of personal and professional issues. Helpful online resources were also made available to our employees through an online web portal and mobile app. EAPs are designed to help our people deal with the different challenges that arise in our daily lives including relationship issues, parenting problems, grief resulting from the loss of a loved one, stress management, emotional distress, financial and legal matters, general wellness, nutrition, and more.
  • In addition to caring for our seafarers and employees, we took it upon ourselves to help our communities in need who were hit severely by the Covid-19 pandemic.

At one point, India was at the epicentre of the pandemic. India is an important market FLEET because not only does our management team have proud Indian roots, but it is also one of the top nations from which we recruit our seafarers. As such, we made efforts to support the community through
• Procuring 210 and donated them to our offices as well as local hospitals, law enforcement agencies, charities, and NGOs across India
• Providing a corporate donation of US$396,000 was made to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES) to help the fight against Covid-19 in India

Health and Safety is one of the five focus areas of our Responsibility Framework which guides our ESG strategy. Read more about our priorities and progress when it comes to Health and Safety or download our 2021 Responsibility Report.