Ten mariners, including five SIU members, recently tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Maersk Idaho. One crew member was hospitalized but is doing well and is being discharged today. The others are quarantined aboard the ship, which is anchored off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Thankfully, those mariners have not experienced any symptoms.
The company has put together a thorough plan to safely vacate current crew members, move them to a quarantine facility, professionally clean the vessel, and then bring on a new crew. They are working with the Coast Guard, medical professionals and other authorities to ensure diligence, efficiency and safety. The SIU is also working closely with the crew and company to provide support and to secure additional testing for crews on other American-flag Maersk ships.
The vessel will be cleaned by a 22-person team of environmental professionals. This plan has been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, CDC and the Virginia Department of Health.
The crew transition may begin as soon as today (June 26). SIU members who have a balance of time will be allowed to go back to the vessel either when it completes the domestic leg of its voyage or upon later returning to the States. The SIU manpower office has been advised to work with the company to ensure nobody loses employment entitlement.
Lastly, the company is working to identify (if possible) where and how the first crew member was exposed, so that procedures may be reexamined and additional safety measures considered in order to prevent a future occurrence.