Anastasiou, deputy managing director for OSM Crew Management, highlighted the difficulties in planning crew change when dealing with a large number of unknowns and, "what is possible today, may not be possible tomorrow".
“One of the biggest challenges we face right now is the unknown. Obviously when you are unable to plan for tomorrow that leaves quite a large gap,” she explained.
The time for planning a crew change has gone up from a maximum of three days to two to three weeks “at best” and even then there is still a risk the crew change operation will be cancelled.
“There is a huge amount of coordination that goes into every crew change, you have to organise different parties, different stakeholders, you need to ensure if you are moving someone from one country to another that the regulations haven’t changed,” Anastasiou told the virtual event organised by Informa Connect.
“You need to ensure the quarantine has been implemented as seen fit by the country that they [the seafarer] are in and the country they are joining [from], if that is applicable. For us the biggest challenge is the unknown. It’s definitely being in a position whereby you plan for today, you don’t know if that plan will be executed tomorrow. Again, this is something is we just need to live with.”
To help try and align the various parties and processes across OSM’s global network of over 30 offices the company hired a dedicated task manager for the Covid situation.
“Definitely we have really benefited from having this sole person organising the entire group and ensuring we are on track every step of the way. Of course, there have been some roadblocks we can understand that, this is something that is continuously changing,” she said.
“However, when there is a dedicated resource to constantly be monitoring and be on top the various changes happening, the restrictions in place then it makes the job a lot easier.”
On the situation as it stands today Anastasiou said OSM still has a long way to go. “We still have a number of seafarers that are nearing their expiration of contract date and we do have vessels that are slightly more challenging to reach. We also have the added issue that are still certain nationalities that are in lockdown unfortunately.”
She shared that for some seafarers there is a fear factor and that in the middle of pandemic they want to “abandon” their family at a time when they feel they are needed most.
“So, this is a very crucial time for us. It’s very sensitive issue, we have to be very respectful in everything we do and this has been the underlying position we have taken from the start. We need to understand that we’re dealing with humans here and it is so vital that what we do and say touches them in a way they understand.”
Anastasiou stressed that communication was by far the most important factor going forward.
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