Pandemics at Sea – Two Years Later

By Dr. Ann Griffiths, 20 February 2022

The Naval Association of Canada has published a second Briefing Note on the effects of the current pandemic on three maritime sectors. This updates an earlier Briefing Note, written in spring 2020, which examines how covid-19 has affected actors at sea, and how that affects Canadians on land. The maritime sectors discussed in this Briefing Note are leisure (cruise ships), economic (shipping) and security (navies). The Briefing Note updates us on these sectors two years later. From total shut down in spring 2020, the cruise ship industry has made a modest recovery. But the industry has been affected in terms of the travel experience (with mask rules, some vaccination rules, limited on-land excursions/activities, limited capacity, etc.), but also route limitations and financial stress on companies. Two years after the pandemic began, it is in terms of maritime economic actors that we see the most significant effects. Among other things, supply chains continue to be snarled, personnel shortages cause delays and bottlenecks at ports, and shipping rates and fuel rates have skyrocketed from a low in 2020. The security sector continues to be affected, but navies have returned to their exercises and operations. Naval diplomacy, however, suffers as both navy-to-navy and people-to-people relationship-building activities have become more difficult to conduct, reducing the efficacy of the navy in its role of diplomacy. And fallout from government spending to address the pandemic has yet to be felt – but it may be felt in naval procurement. This Briefing Note reminds us that what happens on the seas affects us. And, as the BN concludes, “when the dust settles, it will take time to untangle, rebuild and, perhaps, rethink these maritime sectors.” Check out NAC Briefing Note #44 The Covid-19 Pandemic: Impact on Maritime Activities at https://www.navalassoc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/BN44-Pandemics2.pdf

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