“I’ve seen grown men cry,” says Captain Tejinder Singh, who hasn’t set foot on dry land in more than seven months and isn’t sure when he’ll go home.
It’s a plight facing tens of thousands of seafarers like him, stranded at sea as the delta variant wreaks havoc on shore.
“People don’t know how their supermarkets are stocked up,” he says.
Captain Singh and his 20-strong crew are among about 100,000 seafarers stranded at sea beyond their regular stints of typically 3-9 months, according to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS); many without even a day’s break on land. Another 100,000 are stuck on shore, unable to board the ships they need to earn a living on.
The delta variant devastating parts of Asia – home to many of the world’s 1.7 million commercial seafarers – has prompted many nations to cut off land access to visiting crews, in some cases even for medical treatment.
Only 2.5pc of seafarers have been vaccinated.
The United Nations describes the situation as a…