Developments are happening fast in relation to crew repatriation during the coronavirus outbreak.
The UK has designated seafarers as key workers, Singapore is allowing crew changes with a number of caveats, while measures have been put in place today to allow crew to land and board ship in Hong Kong. In India, the shipping minister is preparing procedures to ensure Indian crew can leave and join ships when calling at local ports.
The clamour for other countries to follow suit and make crew changes easier is growing.
In an open letter, Graham Westgarth, CEO of shipmanagement giant V.Group, wrote yesterday: “[I]t’s time for governments around the world to designate seafarers as ‘key workers’. Failure to recognise them as such will have catastrophic global consequences.”
Westgarth noted: “Ships must be restocked, re-fuelled, inspected and given fresh crews to keep the world’s supply chain moving.” He urged governments to provide crew with adequate safeguards, including rights of embarkation and disembarkation.
The European Commission has issued guidelines calling for member states to implement green lanes to allow the free flow of goods and associated personnel across borders. Westgarth is calling on jurisdictions elsewhere in the world to adopt similar measures.
Kitack Lim, secretary general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), on Friday urged governments around the world to make crew changes easier in order to facilitate world trade.
Meanwhile, the International Ship Suppliers & Services Association (ISSA) has said its members also ought to be given essential worker status to keep ships moving around the world.
Responding to complaints from ship supply companies that they are being prevented from delivering to ships in some ports, ISSA has written to the heads of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) asking for ship suppliers around the world to be given essential worker status.