There are dozens of ships anchored off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week, imperiling global supply chains and holiday gifts. Also imperiled? The safety and well-being of the seafarers working on those ships, many of whom haven’t touched land in more than a year due to pandemic-era restrictions and the backup of vessels vying for berths in clogged ports.
Among other issues, seafarers stuck on ships report declining mental and physical health, with limited access to medical care, growing tensions between crew members and fatigue that labor groups say jeopardizes maritime safety.
Few know their plight as well as Pat Pettit, the general manager of the International Seafarers Center of Long Beach/Los Angeles. For four decades, she has provided seafarers with everything from temporary housing to shipside drop-off of Amazon orders to car rides to the grocery store.
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