In view of the ongoing crew change crisis, due to restrictions imposed by Covid-19 the IMO Secretary-General wishes to draw the attention of Member States to the matter of designation of these professionals as key workers. In its latest circular IMO urges Member States and relevant national authorities to designate seafarers as ʺkey workersʺ providing an essential service, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel.
49 member states and associate members have notified the IMO that they have designated seafarers as key workers.
IMOʹs Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) has been made aware of a worrying development that is preventing crew changes on certain ships and that does not allow ships to deviate to ports where crew changes could take place. Certain charterers are demanding the inclusion of ʺno crew changeʺ clauses in charter parties, that is, no crew changes can occur whilst the charterers cargo is aboard.
As a matter of safety and corporate social responsibility, IMO calls upon all charterers to refrain from requesting to include such clauses in charter parties and has called upon shipowners and operators to reject them if they are demanded.
The WHO has also released e-learning courses on promoting health measures in response to COVID-19 on ships and Operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases and outbreaks on board ships.
The IMO circulars are available for download on the right.
Crew change facilitation has come in the spotlight of the Singapore MPA, following cases of COVID-19 transmission between ship- and shore-based personnel and multiple cases reported on a bunker tanker.
Singapore MPA has enhanced the crew change procedures and states that:
- All agents/owners shall charter the entire launch boat when performing crew change. There shall be no other personnel taking the same launch boat with the sign on/sign off crew.
2. Crew shall remain in the vehicle/transport until the launch boat(s) is/are ready for boarding. Crew shall not be loitering at the pier for the launch boat.
The update includes advice on helping seafarers to deal with emotional stress and overcome negative feelings. It also includes additional guidance on cyber-related issues.