Filipino crewing supremo calls for global digital quarantine pass to resolve the crew change crunch

The world’s manning hubs need to club together and come up with digital solutions to reassure other stakeholders and fix the crew change situation, one of the most important names in seafaring has told Splash.

Dario Alampay, chairman of the Joint Manning Group based in Manila, has written to Splash with global solutions to fix the current seafarer travel impasse that has left 300,000 crew stranded at sea thanks to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Joint Manning Group is composed of the five leading manning associations in the Philippines, the world’s top source of seafarers.

Alampay, who heads up local shipping lines Westwind Shipping Corporation and Baliwag Navigation, is calling for a global approach to have all seafarers of all nationalities adopt a common digital quarantine pass recorded via blockchain as well as a seamless contact tracing system.

Once the different countries agree on and implement a common protocol, it will give airlines and ports confidence in allowing urgently needed crew change

“Once the different countries agree on and implement a common protocol, helping each other build the trust we need, it will give airlines and ports confidence in allowing urgently needed crew change,” Alampay wrote in his letter to Splash.

In terms of common crew change protocols, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has led the way, issuing a 12-step guide on the procedure back in April. However, very few nations have adopted IMO’s crew change protocols in their entirety to date. Inchcape Shipping Services has been running a crew change tracker on its site for a number of weeks now. As of today, the tracker lists just 19 states that are fully open for crew changes.

The crew change crunch was top of the agenda at a webinar hosted by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) yesterday.

TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said the limited number of passengers allowed in international airports per day, as well as the designation of the port of Manila as the sole seaport where crew change could be done in the country, has greatly reduced the number of deployed seafarers.

TUCP vice president Luis Corral also echoed a concern, initially raised by the Joint Manning Group, on how the government in Manila is requiring shipowners to pay for the tests and quarantine expenses of Filipino sailors.

“This is making the cost of our seafarers expensive for the shipowners,” Corral said.

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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