Unsafe Crew Change Attracts Severe Flak From Stake Holders

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  • The recent crew change in Hong Kong following a third wave of the Covid -19 virus has drawn severe criticism.
  • As a result, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association and Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association responded to the “irresponsible behaviour”of a few in the shipping industry.
  • The shipowners and liner shipping associations have written to the local press stressing the vital role seafarers play as key workers and urging support, not bias.
  • In the letter, the associations had advised their members to take additional precautions when unrestricted crew change was allowed from 9 June.
  • The letter also stressed that all seafarers to have a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in Hong Kong.

A recent news written by Marcus Hand in the Seatrade Maritime News reveals the condemnation of the shipowners and liner shipping associations in Hong Kong towards the crew change.

An act of disrepute

“A few rotten apples have brought disrepute to their peers and the industry, which has been working hard to ensure the smooth operation of the world’s supply chain for essential items such as food, fuel and medical supplies, during this most difficult time.”

“We are extremely disappointed with this. We have urged international and local unions to remind their members to strictly follow all rules, protocols and precautionary measures set by port authorities and shipping companies to protect public health. We have also suggested the government impose penalties on any parties who break the rules,” the letter said.

The recent crew change policy

  • Hong Kong had allowed unrestricted crew change from 9 June.
  • From 29 July this has been restricted to only vessels carrying out cargo operations in the port.
  • This is due to a number of Covid-19 cases involving sea and air crew.
  • Testing requirements have also been introduced.

Additional precautions suggested 

The letter noted that the associations had advised their members to take additional precautions when unrestricted crew change was allowed from 9 June.

It stressed that all the seafarers to have a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in Hong Kong.

“We also recommended other possible precautionary measures to the government. These included requiring all seafarers to test negative again on their arrival in Hong Kong and imposing penalties on companies and individuals breaking the rules,” the letter said.

On 20 July, with local infections on the rise, the two associations asked their members to postpone crew changes by at least three weeks.

The letter concludes

 “Once again, we would like to stress that like other ‘key workers’, seafarers are essential for the global community to fight this battle against the virus.”

“Without these heroes at sea, world trade would come to a halt. If any of them are unfortunately infected, they deserve our support, not bias.”

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Source: Sea Trade Maritime

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