Features of the change of crews

Features of the change of crews

Features of the change of crews in the conditions of the coronavirus

The situation associated with the pandemic was able to paralyze the “inland” life of large and small cities, and the shipping industry was paralyzed either. Among the activities that encountered difficulties in the implementation of the Covid-19 pandemic was the rotation of crews on ships. The norms of “sea” quarantine in Ukrainian and foreign ports are somewhat different due to the fact that decisions on their severity are made at the state level, and not on a global scale.

The situation in Ukrainian coastal waters

As early as March 17, the National Security and Defense Council decided to close airports and many ground checkpoints for aviation, rail, and buses. The ports were restricted, but they bypassed international traffic. Vessels have the right to enter the waters of Ukraine subject to a mandatory medical examination of all team members without exception.

Conditions for changing crews in connection with quarantine

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine has announced a list of activities that must be completed before the end of the pandemic and quarantine cancellation. These include:

1) the obligation of the master of the vessel to report to the port about the crew’s health status and provide temperature screening two days before entering the port for each person;

2) after the vessel arrives at the port, epidemiologists are the first to board. Provided that they will not detect signs of infection, rotation and descent of the crew to the shore is possible.

The second condition applies only to Ukrainians. Landing for foreigners is strictly prohibited. In case of suspected infection and actual infection, medical and quarantine doctors must board. Patients are transported to specialized medical facilities by specialized ambulances with trained personnel. An identical scheme of actions with the accompanying crew companies – ship agents.

Worldwide rotation

Most countries in the world, given the severity of the pandemic, have also taken certain precautions and regulations. This made many sailors prisoners of ships who had to call at the ports of states that had adopted restrictions on crew changes for the quarantine period. Sailors with a contract coming to an end will be forced to recycle. At the same time, shipowners are urged to take into account the seriousness of the situation and extend the contracts to their subordinates. Of course, in different countries there are some differences in precautionary measures and change of crew, respectively.

EU and its initiatives

Given that sea freight provides 75% of European imports and transportation of 30% of cargo between EU countries, the world understands the seriousness of ensuring the normal functioning of the industry. Taking into account the recommendations of the European Union, International Labor Organization, transport workers and maritime organizations, the leaders of some countries have allowed crew changes in their coastal waters.

Adjusting Countries

We provide below a table, with adjustments for the change of crew

Coutry Government permits for crew changes
Canada fully allowed
France shifts are allowed for Schengen countries
Denmark allowed subject to availability of a flight from Denmark to the sailor’s home country
Belgium allowed if the sailor has a Schengen visa
Germany allowed, sailors can enter Germany to join the ship and leave the country, returning to their homeland. The rule applies to both EU citizens and citizens of other states. Sailors without the symptoms of COVID-19 may go ashore or, conversely, board aboard without observing the quarantine rules
Poland allowed, subject to severe restrictions
Gibraltar allowed exclusively for merchant seafarers and with restrictions
Japan allowed with additional restrictions
Namibia allowed except for seafarers from high-risk countries
Fiji allowed, but 14-day quarantine introduced for Chinese, South Korean, Italian, Spanish and Iranian sailors
Azores allowed after mandatory quarantine at the hotel (14 days). After this, sailors must immediately go to the airport
Malaysia rotation is possible only in the case of a contract that has ended with a sailor (provided that over the past 14 days he has not had any symptoms of coronavirus)
Brazil allowed in some but not all ports and only after 14-day quarantine
Canary Islands all crews must remain in isolation (at the hotel) for 14 days before boarding and after landing
Australia allowed in some but not all ports and only after 14-day quarantine
Pakistan for citizens of Pakistan, provided that the vessel did not arrive from countries with a high incidence of COVID-19
Finland subject to the immediate return of the crew to their homeland
Singapore subject to the health of all sailors and the fact that for 14 days they had no contact with persons suspected or diagnosed with coronavirus disease
The Netherlands from March 19, change is allowed in the shopping park for 30 days
UK Allowed
USA allowed with certain restrictions
Hong Kong only for indigenous people
India only for indigenous people
Philippines only for indigenous people subject to 14-day quarantine

As a result, today about 100,000 sailors remain “captive”. Whether there will be a tendency to decrease this amount is unknown. This largely depends on the canceled flights, which does not allow sailors to go home. So, the problem remains acute and hundreds of thousands of captured sailors continue to hope for its speedy resolution.