ICS: Failures to follow protocols threaten crew change progress

Written by Nick Blenkey
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IMAGE: Hong Kong Maritime Hub

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is warning that some seafarers and manning agencies are failing to adhere to crew change protocols and are putting a risk whatever gains the industry has made.

“Alarming reports of ship managers and individuals failing to comply with national crew change guidelines have come to ICS attention,” says the chamber. “With stories emerging yesterday of crew arriving in Singapore with COVID-19 symptoms, it is clear that some seafarers and crew and manning companies are ‘not taking seriously’ the protocol of self-imposed isolation (minimum of 14 days) when being rostered for crew change.”

For months, ICS has been urging the global shipping industry and national governments to adopt its health guidance and 12-step crew change protocols to ensure crew changes can be carried out. ICS has put forward the protocols to facilitate the safe rotations of seafarers as well as help protect the health of the general public during the pandemic. Strict adherence to these 12-step protocols has proved that seafarers are able to change over safely and keep trade flowing.

ICS says that recent instances of noncompliance are putting the industry at risk of severe setbacks to the positive progress made thus far.

“The industry cannot afford to lose the faith and support of governments,” says ICS. “The irresponsible actions of a small minority could potentially lead to the shutdown of crew change processes at important shipping hubs, impacting the vast majority of seafarers and shipowners who are acting in accordance with the protocols..

There are now over half a million seafarers impacted by the ongoing crew change crisis, with over 250,000 seafarers trapped at sea, waiting to return their loved ones.

Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping said:

“We must remember that the vast majority of shipowners are going to extraordinary lengths to safely repatriate crew and return them home to their families. Acts that are only made possible by governments adopting the crew change protocols.

“However, it’s undeniable that ship managers and crewing agents who do not follow the protocol guidance are risking the safety of our seafarers and those around them. The very reason these protocols where produced was to ensure that crew change can be undertaken safely, minimizing the risk of transmission to seafarers and the public alike.

“We must stand firm as an industry and work together to ensure we maintain the highest standards possible. Continuing on the positive momentum gained over recent weeks to ensure that we get back to 100% crew change.

  • Download free 12-Step Guide to the IMO’s Recommended Framework of Protocols for Ensuring Safe Ship Crew Changes and Travel HERE.
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