We all know that for many months the supply chain crisis has kept countless cargo boats effectively moored at sea waiting to unload their shipments into ports.
Yet a different kind of ongoing crisis has had a similar effect on those unfortunate enough to pass away at sea anytime over the last two years:
Last month, [the Vantage Wave], by then floating off the United Arab Emirates, sent what had become a familiar plea. Captain Sandu was dead and his body was in the ship's walk-in freezer. For six months, it had traveled thousands of miles lying near the crew's meat and vegetables. They needed to get him back to Romania...
Strict and uneven rules governing the world's ports prevent the unloading of bodies suspected of being infected with the coronavirus. Though the pandemic has eased somewhat, the restrictions remain, leaving ships like the Vantage Wave to cross oceans in search of a port to offload a fallen crew member. There are now numerous corpses stuck on the world's cargo ships, usually stored in freezers meant for food.
In September, a 23-year-old seaman from Ukraine died aboard a Swiss-flagged bulk carrier anchored at China's southeastern port of Rizhao, an apparent suicide. After Chinese authorities refused to take his body, the ship traveled for nearly two months and more than 5,000 miles, to Vancouver, where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police agreed to help repatriate his body. It's still not home.
This is, to say the least, disgraceful: Fear of COVID-19 has caused people to do a lot of crazy things, but "refusing to allow human remains to be taken care of with timely dignity" may be at the top of the stupidity list.