An important reference set of protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been recognized by IMO’s technical body, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).
The Committee, meeting virtually for its 102nd session (4 to 11 November) approved an MSC circular recognizing the industry-developed protocols, which set out general measures and procedures designed to ensure that ship crew changes and travel can take place safely during the pandemic.
Currently, hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stranded on board ships, having seen their contracts extended beyond the maximum duration of service periods accepted under international treaties, i.e. less than 12 months, and a similar number of seafarers are waiting to join ships.
The protocols also emphasize the need for Governments to designate seafarers as key workers, providing an essential service. The protocols (previously issued via circular letter) include practical steps for joining and leaving ships, including the need for compliance and strict adherence with COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements, and measures to prevent infection on board ships. They are a living document which will be updated in line with developments concerning the pandemic.