There is little doubt the major topic making headlines during the current phase of the pandemic is the challenges related to crew change. For several months, seafarers have been marooned on board ships due to border closures, lock-downs and other preventive measures imposed by port states and governments.
Since 13 March, BIMCO has provided an overview of the challenges related to crew changes. Initially the overview was divided into three sections depending on how the restrictions were applied:
- Depending on travel history
- Depending on nationalities on board
- Full prohibition or closure of borders
While observing a general trend with authorities easing restrictions, BIMCO has added a new section with a list of confirmed countries that allows disembarkation for the purpose of crew change. Currently, this positive list numbers more than 30 countries. It is not unusual for port states to refer to applicable International Maritime Organization items, such as circ. 4204/add. 6 which outlines the importance of undertaking a pragmatic approach to facilitation of maritime trade.
Considering the reports of successful industry initiatives to facilitate crew change on some occasions, the primary obstacle appears to be the absence of commercial flights. However, facilitating crew change is much more than chartering flights. Visa restrictions have proven another major obstacle as well as the different protocols and approaches to testing procedures for airlines and national governments.
All incoming information is carefully assessed and BIMCO spends a considerable amount of time locating the relevant official circulars to provide every detail possible to our members. In this way BIMCO is playing an active role in the informal exchange between industry stakeholders.
Please see the following BIMCO content pages:
- Crew challenges, for a fast overview of the current restriction regimes to crew change
- Crew extensions, for an overview of regulations to seafarers certificates and employment contracts
- Implementations, for a detailed picture of national and international measures