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Asian shipowners hit out at charterers over ‘no-crew change’ clauses

Photo: Marcus Hand seafarers.jpg
The Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASA) has hit out at charterers who claim to support seafarers yet demand “no-crew change” clauses in contracts.

As the crew change crisis continues over a year after the Covid-19 pandemic first swept the globe some charterers have controversially taken to demanding no crew change clauses in contracts to avoid deviations and possible delays if a new joiner later tests positive.

The ASA’s 30th annual general meeting held virtually on Tuesday highlighted seafarer issues including vaccinations and saying “no” to no-crew change clauses

“It is especially disappointing to see cases of prominent ship charterers, including some who have publicly voiced support for seafarers, demanding the inclusion of “no-crew change” clauses in their charterparties or voyage instructions,” said Richard Hext, Chairman of ASA Ship Insurance and Liability Committee.

“Such clauses go against the human rights of seafarers and are in clear contravention of Owners’ responsibilities under MLC 2006.”

While the number of seafarers stranded at sea beyond their original contract duration has decreased to around 200,000 from a peak of 400,000 Hext said the situation was still “intolerable”.

With growing new travel restrictions due to Covid-19 variants and the surge of cases in the Indian sub-continent top ship managers have warned that the crew change crisis could be even worse this year than in 2021.

The ASA also urged all governments to implement the UN Assembly resolution from last November granting seafarer key worker status and would also give them priority for vaccinations.

Chairman of ASA Seafarers’ Committee, Han Chao said, “Now is the time that the whole world recognise the importance of seafarers who are the unsung heroes always exposing themselves to all kind of adversities to make the world trade go round.”