Together we must end Seafarer Abandonment

The saddest truth for mariners in 2023 is that seafarer abandonment cases are rising. Beneath the cold statistics, the reality for crews is that those abandoned suffer unacceptable hardship. 

If you own a ship, manage one, or operate in any relevant role in the wider shipping industry, you must aim and unite to do zero harm to seafarers. 

We’ve prepared this report to help you understand why you must act to end seafarer abandonment across your supply chain. Take steps of courage, join RightShip, and let’s end this together. 


What is seafarer abandonment? 

Mariners deliver 90% of the world’s cargo. It is up to us all to show that we can do this safely and with care for our hard-working seafarers, who face unique risks those on land can’t begin to imagine. 

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) defines abandonment as when a shipowner can’t cover the cost of a seafarer’s repatriation and fails to pay wages for at least two months, has left seafarers without maintenance and support, or otherwise severs ties with the crew. 

When seafarers, ship owners and managers get the opportunity to earn and make a living trading by sea, troubles arise to inflame the conditions for seafarer abandonment when Document of Compliance (DoC) holders are: 

  • Facing bankruptcy from under-costing a voyage 

  • Costing repairs on older vessels when it's cheaper to abandon them 

  • Left isolated by extreme events like the Covid-19 pandemic 

  • Combatting uprisings aboard and facing mutiny 


Number of abandoned seafarers 

As of January 31, 2023, abandoned seafarers numbered 9,925 over the last 20 years in cases involving 703 vessels. 

Not limited by geography, seafarer abandonment is across all the world’s continents, with 106 countries and 85 flag states involved, making for shocking reading. 

RightShip is sharing this data to drive meaningful change. However, it’s not enough just to highlight these issues, we need to come together as an industry and take action. 

This means we need to make every person within the supply chain responsible for funding and doing business with companies involved in the continued abandonment of seafarers and the mistreatment of the people who move our cargoes accountable. 

Read the full report to find out why.