A Hong Kong maritime consultancy has developed technology it believes can ensure safe crew changes through the pandemic.
Captain Milutin Gojkovic, managing director of Alpes Maritime Consulting (AMC), has created the SafeCrew Platform by deploying remote health monitoring technology using FDA-grade sensor devices, artificial intelligence and smart apps to track crew’s healthiness from shore to sea and back to shore, starting at crews’ home town once they are hired, continuing on the vessel and until returning to shore. Health status certified by medical doctors are securely analysed, stored at private cloud and pre-distributed to port and health authorities at discharge ports as well as shipowners and crew management companies for easy monitoring and onshore clearance.
The entire crew planning system is destroyed and crew rotation patterns are all over the place
The SafeCrew Platform is backed by the brand new SafeCrew Consortium which comprises AMC, California-based digital health company. DynoSense, and Singapore tech firm EVVO Labs.
A pilot run will be carried out soon with shipowners and port authorities.
This is not the first Hong Kong consultancy using technology in order to try and resolve the crew change crunch that sees around 400,000 crew stranded at sea.
Swiss-based security company SICPA, in partnership with Hong Kong’s Crew Assist, has developed a digital medical document, designed to alleviate concern from governments over the validity of many crew’s Covid-19 health checks. The digital document has been under trial and has gained significant support from across the shipping industry. Crew Assist is led by Jonathan Jones who also runs his own Hong Kong consultancy, JLJ Maritime.
Solving the crew change crunch fast will be vital, not just to get the overworked crew home and their replacements back to work, but also to cut spiralling expenses.
Ship operators have been warned this week to expect higher crewing costs next year as pandemic measures and challenges in carrying out crew changes push prices higher.
Henrik Jensen, managing director of Danica Crewing Specialists, has analysed recent crew costs and reports that each crew change is costing an extra $2,000 – doubling the price since last year. Jensen is advising ship operators to set aside additional funds in next year’s budgets.
Jensen explained in a release yesterday: “Airfares have risen significantly compared to 12 months ago and flights are still difficult to book in many parts of the world due to reduced timetables and last-minute changes or cancellations. Our analysis does not include vessel deviation and delay costs for redirecting vessels to ports where crew changes are allowed and lost charter revenue. However, vessel deviations caused only for the purpose of crew changes are rare today as more ports are open for crew changes.”
Danica has used analysis of a combination of fully allocated additional costs and estimates, based on the 1,276 crew changes on bulk carriers in worldwide trade which the company made over the period from March to September.
“There is an ever-changing list of restrictions, medical tests, hotels, visas and transit requirements to be met in order to facilitate crew travel. Today planning and executing a crew change can take two to three times as long as before,” Jensen commented.
Predicting that crew scheduling will not return to normal until mid -2021 at the earliest, Jensen said: “Due to Covid-19 and delays in repatriating seafarers, the entire crew planning system is destroyed and crew rotation patterns are all over the place. It will take a lot of time and effort by crew managers and shipowners, and need the assistance of the international community and governments, for the regular crew change system to be re-established.”
He advised shipping companies which are now preparing their budgets for 2021 to add in contingency funds: “This is an industry-wide problem faced by all ship operators throughout the world. It is of course very difficult to forecast every additional cost which will be faced in 2021 but it would be prudent to assume that this global situation will remain with us for many more months to come and to therefore set aside sufficient funds to enable crew changes to take place whenever possible.”