Letter of Commissioners Daniel Maffei and Louis Sola to President Joe Biden
Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Daniel B. Maffei and Commissioner Louis E. Sola wrote the President on October 22, 2021 urging that “A Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic” contain an exemption for unvaccinated seafarers entering the United States to join a ship.
Text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President:
As our Nation begins to emerge from the pandemic and reopen international travel, we wish to
underscore the importance of preventing unnecessary barriers to maritime commerce. Like many
Americans, we welcomed the Administration’s announcement to open land and air travel to
arriving, fully vaccinated foreign nationals beginning on November 8. However, it is notable that
maritime arrivals were not addressed in the announcement and that there is no clear exemption
for seafarers, including those seafarers arriving to the United States by air travel. We note that all
previous COVID-19 related proclamations included an exemption for seafarers. Some seafarers
arriving at United States ports are receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations and then undergoing
an additional quarantine period aboard their ship. Accordingly, it is our specific request that the
forthcoming guidance related to the November 8 reopening of international travel to the United
States contain a provision similar to those in prior Presidential Proclamations, continuing to
afford seafarers in transit an exemption from vaccination.
The maritime industry is committed to protecting the health and safety of the seafarers working
aboard their ships, and that includes adopting rigorous vaccination and other health standards.
The international nature of maritime commerce and the reality of vaccine supply challenges in
many parts of the world have limited the ability of many seafarers to become vaccinated in their
home countries. If seafarers are prevented from coming to the United States, including to
perform necessary crew changes, maritime commerce would be further strained, and already
serious supply chain issues would be further exacerbated.
We appreciate your consideration of our concern and encourage the Administration to clarify the
new travel requirements for seafarers, maintaining the prior exemption in the context of the new
guidance. As always, we stand ready to work with you to address these issues expeditiously.
Daniel B. Maffei
Louis E. Sola
Daniel B. Maffei and Louis E. Sola are Commissioners with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.