November 28, 2007
P&I club warns on CBP crackdown on crew changes
The UK P&I Club issued a loss prevention bulletin earlier this month warning members that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is getting tough on crew changes involving international crew.
The bulletin notes that CBP has long expected that departing crew will leave the U.S. on the next available flight, but now the CBP's current directive is that off-signing crew must depart the country the same day they are signed off the ship. This applies unless there are unusual circumstances which warrant leniency.
Crew that do not depart/arrive the same day they leave/join the ship will subject owners/crew managers to a fine of US$3,300 per crewmember.
"In the interest of safety and crew welfare, some operators are understood to have a policy of giving officers a night's rest in a hotel after flying before joining their ships. Such policies and actions will now result in fines being imposed," says the bulletin. "In cases where the arrival date of a ship is not certain, Members will find this regulation particularly unfair as it is normal practice to get crew to their joining ports in good time in order not to miss the ship."
The bulletin says it has been noticed that the number of fines issued nationwide by the CBP has increased. It has also been noticed that the CBP is now issuing fines for infractions which would have previously warranted no more than a warning.