Shipmanagers accelerate crew repatriation

More and more reports of shipmanagers carrying out successful crew changes are filtering in to the Splash newsdesk.

More than 200,000 seafarers are working at sea beyond their original contract lengths with many now onboard for more than a year, thanks to the travel restrictions put in place across the globe in the wake of the spread of coronavirus, something that was described in by shipping and trade unions leaders last month as a “humanitarian crisis” in a letter to António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general.

Hong Kong-based Fleet Management has arranged crew changes for over 432 seafarers across 34 vessels and 12 ports in India including for the VLCC New Horizon (pictured below). This takes Fleet’s tally to 1,127 crew changes worldwide, including 609 in China and 84 in the Philippines.

“As we navigate the global crisis, we never lose sight of the wellbeing of our seafarers,” said Kishore Rajvanshy, managing director of Fleet Management. “While travel restrictions, border control and quarantine measures are posing manifold logistical challenges on crew rotation, our crewing department is working relentlessly to manage crew change as smoothly as possible.”

Another Hong Kong manager, Anglo-Eastern, reported earlier this week of a special flight from New Delhi to Doha, Qatar, carrying a total of 121 seafarers, of which Anglo-Eastern made up 39 of the crew. The seafarers then made for France, Finland and South Korea, from where they will sign on to their respective vessels. Their relieved colleagues will return to India via Doha. This is believed to be the first such two-way chartered flight arrangement of its kind for Indian seafarers.

Doha and Colombo have been designated the hub airports through which Indian seafarers will be sent to join ships or repatriated after signing off from ships.

Colombo has agreed to allow Indian seafarers to stay for five days if they are travelling to Colombo to join a ship, and seven days if they are travelling out of Colombo on a chartered flight, provided flights are confirmed.

Qatar, meanwhile, has permitted seafarers a 22-hour stay at the airport while waiting for onward connections.

One of the earlier success stories in the crew change crisis was performed by OSM Maritime Group who chartered a plane for 150 seafarers from Bergen to Manila last week (pictured on arrival above).

Also of note from last weekend was a pilot project flight taking crew from Manila to Rotterdam. The project was backed by Wilhelmsen, V. Ships, Synergy, Magsaysay, Global Marine Travel, the PTC Group and Inchcape. The so-called safe transit corridor was described on social media by Synergy founder Rajesh Unni as the “new normal” for crew changes.

“We must adopt consistent methodology for safe changeovers,” Unni wrote on Twitter last weekend. The end-to-end transit process delivering crew from the world’s top seafaring hub included medicals, coronavirus tests, biosecure lodging and land and air transit.

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.


  1. Thanks for supporting sir? Sea warriors ⚓?
    Feeling happy ? Good news after long time # signing off vessel very soon ?????⚓⚓⚓????????

  2. This is all rubbish. Many countries have not allowed Seaman or other nationality to enter their country. Chartered planes are taking crew out but none have returned so far . Please check the news feed before you print.

  3. We have 10 ports in Asia in a monthly round trip and NONE is granted CC as far… This includes 4 Chinese ports. All crew on board have contracts overdue, 12 crew coming to 14 months on board soon… Since February – we are completely locked on board… This is fact and I am very far from any optimism… All on board asking: where Is ITF? Where are IMO, MLC and all these “seamen supporting” (hahaha) organisations? Now all can see, how uselesss tgey are…. :(((

  4. The information is partial, and clearly biased. Is maritime journalism in crisis too? Even a child knows that to these changes already made we must subtract the new sailors who have requested to disembark. The net balance is probably negative, so the problem continues to increase.

  5. Saudi Arabia,not even moving in that direction .So many seamans just waiting for crew change.Contract long time ago completed, but nothing, just nothing

  6. Why China not allow crew change? Why they allow only for CHINESE crew? Why you allow China for racism? Many vessels trade to China, if they open crew change will be more easy for manning agencies and owners to make crew change.

  7. Why China not allow crew change? Why they allow only for CHINESE crew? Why you allow China for racism? Many vessels trade to China, if they open crew change will be more easy for manning agencies and owners to make crew change….

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