Europe still open to seafarers

Seafarers around the world can still travel to Europe to join vessels – even from countries facing fresh Covid-19 outbreaks such as India, where daily cases hit more than 300,000 in mid-May.

“Getting seafarers into or out of Europe isn’t a problem at the moment,” said Peter Smit, co-CEO of Boers Crew Services, the Netherlands-based shipping crew transport services operator for northern Europe. “If a seafarer flies from, say, Manila into Amsterdam, we can get them to the port for a crew change. They will, of course, need to be tested for Covid-19 and most likely be quarantined in a hotel. But if the test result comes back negative, it’s no problem for them to join the vessel.”

Smit, whose company helps transport shipping crewmembers to and from ports in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, added that the same process applies to seafarers who want to fly out of Europe after leaving their ship. “It’s almost the same procedure, only a quarantined stay in a hotel isn’t, in most cases, necessary,” he said.

While getting seafarers into Europe remains relatively straightforward, carrying out crew changes is proving more difficult because of the rules put in place by immigration and health authorities.

Many states in the Asia and the Middle East have banned seafarers from disembarking if they – or the ship they are on – have recently visited the Indian sub-continent.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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