This Thursday, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations addresses the General Assembly in New York, there is a whole grim list of Covid-19 related issues that he cannot avoid. But few are so pressing as what has become known as the “Maritime...
Crew changes on ships at Vizhinjam port, on the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula, have been stalled by the muscle power displayed by a local steamer agent, which has set up its own association to carve out a monopoly on the activity.
The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) have jointly contributed $500,000 to a Singapore fund to support countries in best practices for crew change.
With the resumption of production and work amid Covid-19 pandemic, shipowners in China are seeing the improvement in business, however, crew change has become a major concern.
IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim has repeated a call for urgent action on crew change ahead of the UN General Assembly or face ships no longer being able to operate safely worsening the economic crisis.
While much about Covid-19 is yet to unfold, it’s reasonable to assume that the pandemic’s most profound and poignant legacy in the shipping industry is the crew change crisis.
Singapore is establishing a floating Crew Facilitation Centre (CFC) with on-site medical provisions, as well as a SGD1m ($736,000) Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund.
The world’s largest container line Maersk is spending a “lot of money” to try and fix the crew change problem but still has one-third of seafarers have been onboard longer than allowed under their contracts.
Large tanker owner DHT Holdings says it has managed to make crew changes on two-thirds of its fleet but “significant challenges” remain due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Crew change and travel during the Covid-19 pandemic has become the top issue facing the maritime industries. Crew change is possible, but it is a complex process.