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Crew Change Crisis

Charterers preventing crew changes - Intercargo

Photo: MPA Crew MPA_0.jpg
Crew change in Singapore
Intercargo has hit out over charterers preventing crew changes on dry bulk vessels with seafarers from certain Southeast Asian nations treated as “toxic”.

The association that represents dry cargo shipowners said it had learned of a number of instances of charterers preventing much needed crew changes from taking place, even though owners were willing to accept the additional costs.

It also said that bulk carriers that changed crew in “certain countries in SE Asia” were being treated as “toxic” for 14 days following crew change.

There have been two recent incidents involving outbreaks on the bulkers Patricia Oldendorff and Vega Dream calling at Port Hedland, Western Australia, involved crew changes that had recently taken place in the Philippines. Despite seafarers who joined the vessels being apparently Covid free they later tested positive on arrival in Australia resulting in lengthy delays of the vessels. Singapore had previously raised concerns over falsified Covid test results and failure to follow quarantine restrictions.

Recently Seatrade Maritime News opinion writer Michael Grey highlighted charterer discrimination against certain seafarer nationalities coming from countries with high rates of Covid infections.

“Intercargo strongly condemns the non-compassionate practices of some charterers of dry bulk carriers, in their rejection of crew change outright during the charter period. This flies in the face of industry wide efforts to offer seafarers the essential rest that they have been so long without during the Covid-19 pandemic, and which is essential to the safe operation of the shipping sector,” the association said.

“Intercargo wishes to state unequivocally that this issue goes further than the charterer’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) or environmental, social and governance (ESG) responsibilities, and displays a clear lack of appreciation of one of the greatest humanitarian crises to affect the maritime sector.”

The crew change crisis that has gripped the industry since March this year shows little sign of resolution on a global scale with 400,000 seafarers reported to remain stranded.