The Coast Guard Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance has issued MSIB 04-21 “COVID-19 Crew Change Issues” to provide guidance for U.S. mariners who may be experiencing crew change issues abroad and for foreign mariners who may be experiencing crew change issues while in the U.S.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significant impacts on the U.S. Marine Transportation System, the Global shipping industry and on seafarers themselves. Travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world have created significant hurdles to crew changes and repatriation of seafarers. The physical and mental fatigue of seafarers who are unable to leave the vessel at the end of their contracts has led to growing humanitarian concerns as well as concerns for the safety of seafarers and shipping.
On January 25, 2021, the U.S. joined 53 other International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states in Circular Letter No.4204/Add.35/Rev.3 in pledging to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers.