[FAQ] COVID19 Safety Procedures for Ship-To-Shore Interactions


Recently Vistrato and Intercargo jointly published a ship-to-shore guideline for seafarers in order to establish a proper covid19 safety protocol for them as they are facing tremendous risk while going to the shore.

So, here are some ideas you need to follow while going about your regular shore interactions.

Documents required for ship berthing

The IMO recommends that Ships and Ports use electronic means to
exchange and view documents to reduce face to face interactions
during the COVID-19 crisis.

With the co-operation of the Ship’s Agent, almost all of the required information can be exchanged, reviewed and completed via email, phone or VHF radio BEFORE the ship arrives.

Information to be furnished to the shore personnel

  1. The ship has submitted a Maritime Declaration of Health to the relevant port state authorities
  2. the ship has been granted Free Pratique
  3. The ship is complying with Covid-19 guidelines issued by flag state and responsible authorities of port to be visited, and WHO, as appropriate
  4. The ship has trained all crew members in Covid-19 ship/shore protocols
  5. The ship is using hand washing/sanitizing and social distancing precautions
  6. The ship is ensuring crew members on gangway and cargo watch duty wear required PPE at all times
  7. The ship will re-confirm health status of all crew before any shore personnel go on board
  8. The ship will hold all essential meetings with shore personnel in Tally Clerk’s office or other suitable location on deck
  9. The ship is maintaining this space in a sanitized condition at all times
  10. The ship has provided telephone numbers or radio channels for master, chief officer / duty officer

Terminal personnel should not board any vessel unless and until the above arrangements are agreed by email with the ship, via the ship’s agent, in advance of ship’s arrival

Information to be furnished to the ship master

  1. The terminal is complying with Covid-19 guidelines issued by the responsible authorities and WHO, as appropriate
  2. The terminal has trained all personnel involved in cargo handling operations in Covid-19 ship/shore protocols
  3. The terminal is using PPE, hand washing/sanitising and social distancing precautions
  4. The terminal is implementing controls on crew access to shore and shore personnel access to ship
  5. The terminal is instructing its personnel not to enter the ship’s accommodation or any other space on board except the designated meeting area, cargo working area and cargo holds, as agreed
  6. The terminal has procedures in place for draught surveys, hold inspections, taking and handling of cargo samples, ship’s husbandry and other routine exchanges
  7. The terminal is depending on relevant guidelines, will allow crew to disembark to carry out essential tasks
  8. The terminal is checking draughts, removal of garbage, taking stores/water
  9. The terminal has arrangements for reviewing/signing Notices of
    Readiness, Bills of Lading, Statements of Facts in consultation with ship’s agent
  10. The terminal has provided contact numbers of terminal representative/duty personnel responsible for loading /unloading operations
  11. The terminal has/has not a WiFi link available for ship’s crew members.

Documents required during loading/unloading


Routine communications and checks between ship and shore during loading /discharging can be carried out by mobile phone and/or VHF or portable radio.


As much as possible ship/shore exchanges required by:
BLU CODE, IMSBC CODE, MARPOL Annex V and ISPS CODE (these are explained in following screens) should be carried out in advance of ship’s arrival in order to clarify and resolve issues that may arise and minimize discussions and meetings on board after ship has berthed.

The following electronic exchanges of information are normally conducted via the ship’s agent.

Blu Code

To be risk assessed and agreed by terminal representative
and ship’s responsible officer

  • Ship/Shore Exchanges of Information re operational characteristics
    of ship & terminal
  • Terminal Regulations Booklet
  • Load / Discharge /Ballast Plan
  • Mooring plans and ship-shore access arrangements
  • BLU Code Ship/Shore Safety Checklist: majority of standard checks
    can be agreed and exchanged in advance of arrival.
  • Terminal’s Safety Checks to be completed by email and/or after arrival, as required

ISPS Code & Marpol Annex V


  • Confirmation of security level of ship and terminal
  • Contact details for PFSO
  • If required, Declarations of Security may be completed in advance by email with a follow-up discussion during ship/shore meeting after berthing.

Marpol Annex V

Exchange of information on:

  • Port reception facilities for ships’ garbage
  • Quantity and type of garbage for disposal by ship
  • If cargo is classified as HME, arrangements for removal of cargo residues, hold wash down and for shore reception of hold wash water
  • Any local controls or restrictions on handling of ships’ garbage


  1. If cargo to be loaded is listed in Individual Schedules in IMSBC Code (2020 Edition):
    Shipper’s Form for Cargo Information and Declaration (ref. IMSBC Code
    section 4) to be provided by shipper to master or his representative in
    advance of loading
    Terminal to check with master that this information has been received.
  2.  If cargo is not listed in Individual Schedules in IMSBC Code:
    In accordance with section 1.3 of IMSBC Code, cargo must be assessed
    by competent authority of load port, conditions for carriage determined and certificate issued
    Terminal to check with master that certificate has been received.
  3. If cargo to be loaded is Group A, or Group A & B:
    Certificate of Moisture Content and Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) to be provided by shipper to master
    Other certificates as required by the Individual Schedule for the particular cargo
    Ship and terminal to agree precautions to be taken in event of rain during loading.
  4. If cargo is Group B, or Group A & B:
    Shipper to include information in Form for Cargo Information on:
    a. Physical and chemical properties and specific hazards of cargo
    b. Any risks of toxic, flammable, explosive or oxygen depleted
    atmosphere in the cargo holds or adjacent spaces
    Master to inform terminal of ship’s procedures for:
    a. Identification and location of any fumigated cargoes on board
    b. Testing and monitoring of atmosphere in cargo holds and
    enclosed spaces
    c. Issuing Permit to Work for shore workers to enter such spaces


FOR GRAIN CARGOES – Master, Terminal and Shipper need to exchange as required:

  • Blu Code Safety Checklist
  • documents to know crew fitness to load grains
  • load discharge plan, stability information and calculations
  • fumigating cargo inspection
  • local phytosanitary requirements

Post arrival safety checks

Cargo Transfer Checks

For discussion on board in agreed meeting area or by telephone
or radio from dock to deck

1. Confirmation of arrangements as discussed during pre-arrival exchanges
2. Confirmation of Covid-19 precautions
3. Checking and agreeing the outstanding Safety Checklist items
4. Checking of mooring and gangway set-up after ship has berthed
5. Review of local conditions including tides and weather
6. Cargo hold entry procedures for pre-load inspection or for discharge operations
7. Arrangements for suspension of loading /unloading:
a. If ship’s safety limits are likely to be exceeded
b. In event of precipitation
c. For final loading runs, trimming and belt run-off
8. All phone/radio communications and agreements for routine operations should be positively recorded on safety checklists and in log books
9. Safety critical issues must always be properly discussed, agreed and signed off

Cargo hold entry checks

If cargo is Group B, or Group A and B, responsible ship’s officer and terminal representative must discuss/agree arrangements for:

  1. Risk assessment of cargo and unloading operations
  2. If atmosphere is unsafe or liable to become unsafe, ensuring hold accesses are secured to prevent unauthorized or accidental entry by either ship or shore personnel
  3. Testing of atmosphere in holds and hold accesses prior to entry by shore workers
  4. Testing and monitoring of atmosphere in cargo holds and accesses during unloading
  5. Issuing of Enclosed Space Entry Permit for work to be carried out in cargo holds
  6.  Ensuring crew members do not enter cargo holds in which shore personnel are working
  7. Informing both crew members and shore workers of the hazards, the risks and the agreed control measures.

follow up and resolving issues

Good co-operation and communications between ship and shore will ensure the safe management of the risks presented by Covid-19 at the ship/shore interface.

In event of the terminal observing any non-compliance by crew members with the required protocols, then:

  • The master should be informed immediately
  • If the issue is not quickly resolved, then the terminal should suspend operations, instruct shore personnel on board to disembark, inform the agent and issue a Letter of Protest
  • Operations should not resume until the issue is satisfactorily resolved

In the event of non-compliance by shore personnel with the agreed protocols, then the master has the right to take similar action.


For the purposes of contact tracing, terminal operators and other port employers should keep a log of personnel who board any ship at their facilities.

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Source: Intercargo


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