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Critical for crew change global solution with Covid-19 second wave: ONE ceo Nixon

The shipping industry needs passenger flights in place and uniform standards for areas such health checks to make progress on clearing the crew change backlog, especially with the threat of a second Covid-19 wave, according Ocean Network Express (ONE) ceo Jeremy Nixon.

With crew change the top issue facing the industry right now it was addressed by Nixon during an interview segment at the virtual Singapore International Bunkering Conference (Sibcon 2020) on Tuesday.

“Still we have this pent-up demand and need to replenish our crews,” Nixon said. He noted the broad range of industry organisations and unions had done well in raising awareness of the issue, but more needed to be done.

“We’re now back to a situation where we need to get the flights back up and running. Of course, we’re doing a lot of charters, we’re moving stuff around, and where necessary we’re even diverting our ships into the Philippines or into India… just to try and get the crew on and off. But, this is not sustainable and we need to make more progress in this area,” he explained.

Nixon is concerned the second wave of Covid being seen now in a number of countries could set back the cause of facilitating crew change. “Especially as with the second wave of Covid coming through now we could see more draconian and more difficult situations in some countries to stop people coming in and out, so it is really critical,” Nixon warned.

While he noted a number governments, including Singapore where ONE is headquartered, had worked really hard to improve the situation, what was needed was agreement on practices by all countries involved.

“So how ever good we make the crew change arrangements in a particular country, if the country where those crew are coming from or going to we don’t have the flights in place, and we don’t have the health checks in place, and we can’t do the quarantine properly, then we’re adding up all this risk in the health supply chain,” he explained.

What is needed is visibility and trust across many countries, “allowing these critical workers to move in sensible and uniform and safe way onto and off the vessels”.

“The general level of understanding is getting better, and the general level of compliance is getting better, but we do have this backlog and we need to address that, so we need to catch up fast,” Nixon concluded.

Sibcon 2020 is organised by the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore and Informa Connect.

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