Crew changes: An industry overview
Since issues relating to ships carrying out crew changes and the safe repatriation of crewmembers during the current pandemic came to light, various maritime and crew related organisations have highlighted these issues and voiced the urgent need to resolve them. Governments and relevant national authorities have been asked to acknowledge the important and crucial role played by seafarers, particularly during this pandemic and to introduce special exemptions for seafarers in their national laws restricting the movement of persons during the pandemic, and to ensure that means of transport, especially between ports and airports but also between the homes of the seafarers and airports, are available to the seafarers. Additionally, a relaxation of documentary requirements for the seafarers is also necessary during a time when the inspection and the issuing of such documentation is hampered by disruptions brought about by the pandemic.
A recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a broad cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the Organization representing the maritime transportation sector: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, INTERTANKO, International Group Clubs, CLIA, INTERCARGO, InterManager, IPTA, IMCA, INTERFERRY, FONASBA, ITF and WSC; and which also take account of input from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been drawn up, and the same has been endorsed by the IMO. It is however disappointing that few governments and relevant national authorities have to date implemented this framework of protocols. The implementation of these protocols will hugely assist in addressing the issues identified in respect of the safe conduct of crew changes and crew repatriation.