Life at sea during COVID-19. Personal stories: Agus

June 24, 2020

RT Leader, Brunei, since January 22.

“We are a team, not just during, but also after work. We eat together, exercise together, and watch movies together. We try to keep things light in this period of time with the pandemic, so we joke a lot. Sometimes we even sing together. We have a karaoke set on board. My favorite song is The Wind of Change by the Scorpions.

Our vessel, the RT LEADER is stationed in Brunei. Usually we’d change crews every two or three months. Due to Covid-19, I, together with one other colleague, have been on board for five months now. We are a crew of six, half of us are national, the other half international. The national crew is still allowed to change every three months. Before the new crew arrives, they are tested on Covid19. So we do still have different crews, at least half of us.

The international half of the crew is stuck here. The office has been communicating intensely with us about the situation and trying hard to find a solution, but there are no flights yet. There aren’t any operating flight companies that can take us.

It’s difficult, but we accept the situation. There is nothing we can do really and we try and make the most of it together here on the ship. We keep working. In shifts of six hours, we do around two operations a day averagely. The rest of the day we are on stand-by and do maintenance together. Sometimes it does get tough though. I have three children of eight, five and three years old. I am grateful that the communications are good, and that we can call each other on the Watsapp every day, but it’s hard to hear when there are even the smallest problems at home. At such times I really want to be there and help them, as from such a distance there is only so much I can do.

There is no escape at the moment from the ship. Normally our ship can go to port once a month. We do our maintenance, get our food supplies and change our crew. It’s something we look forward to, as we can go to shore. Even though it’s only for 24 hours, it gives us time to do some personal shopping and relax a bit. But now, due to Covid19 we are not allowed to go to shore without permission from the office. We have to stay on board. That is also a bit difficult. I miss going to shore.

But overall, I am doing fine. I love my job and even though we have never had a situation like this, it is part of our job to deal with unexpected situations like this too. The company has been trying really hard to release us. That helps too. I am hopeful there might be a solution in one or two weeks.”

Seafarers are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines and medical supplies. The Day of the Seafarer 2020 pays tribute to seafarers, acknowledging their sacrifice and the issues they face. Many seafarers have been away from home for months and are unsure when they will be able to return home due to travel restrictions.  We want to contribute to the awareness by showing the world portraits of KOTUG seafarers, as a tribute to all seafarers that keep the Kotug operations running and for whom we have a deep respect. The above is the story of Agus Supriyanto, on the RT Leader in Brunei since January 22. We do everything we can to get crew changes arranged and therefore support initiatives like the campaign of the IMO to create awareness for this ongoing situation. Help spreading the word by using the hashtag #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers.