Crew changes are
once more becoming difficult as much of the world locks down again following
the emergence of several new and more transmissible variants of Covid-19, crew
specialist Danica has warned.
Airlines are once
again cancelling or reducing flights which poses a problem for crew transiting
to vessels. Ports too, if they have reopened, are imposing greater
We are looking at some hard months ahead
By way of an
example of the tougher travel restrictions coming into place, the Philippine
Ports Authority has extended its crew change restrictions.
which previously had been touting itself as a crew change hub during the
pandemic, introduced a ban for ships bound for the country for crew change
purposes if the ships had visited a number of countries in the 14 days to
entering Philippine waters. The deadline for this ban, initially flagged as Jan
15 today, has now been extended to the end of the month, and two more countries
have been added to the rapidly growing number of barred countries, namely
Hungary and the United Arab Emirates.
A total of 35 countries are now on the barred list in Manila.
managing director of Danica Crewing Services, warned in a release yesterday: “I
believe we may be heading for a new crew change crisis every bit as bad as last
Tests at short notice and accommodation to isolate crew members while
they await the results may not be available
tests at a set period before travel isn’t always easy to comply with depending
on where the crew change is being effected from, Jensen pointed out. Tests may
not be available at short notice and there may not be available accommodation
in which to isolate crew members while they await the results.
discussed how the more rapidly transmissible new coronavirus variants pose a
greater threat to seafarers and ships.
“The new, more
infectious variants present a higher risk that a crew member may be infected on
the way to the vessel and transfer the infection to his ship mates onboard.
This a particular concern during air travel, which requires crew to spend many
hours in a contained space with large numbers of other people. Due to all the
flight cancellations there are plenty of aircraft available to lease for private
transits but this option is really only economically viable if there are large
numbers of crew which is not usually the case,” Jensen said, going on to
describe how in some cases Danica has had to abandon crew change plans if they
involve a long transit or a high-risk area.
implementation of the IMO’s crew change protocols instead of national rules
could improve the situation but Jensen is not optimistic of this being a
solution at present. He commented: “ I think that it may be a remote dream as we
have local governments rules, rules in the transit airports/countries and
individual airline rules, and I do not think it is realistic to expect all
these parties to come together.”
hard months ahead
predicted: “We are looking at some hard months ahead.”