Dispatches No. 483

Dear Members,

Yesterday, shipping stakeholders submitted a recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to the IMO for approval and distribution to all Flag States.

It is hoped that now we ALL have the same procedures, which have been thoroughly risk assessed and therefore can be implemented.

Members are urged to send them to owners/principles and start using them in order to expedite crew changes.

Since last Dispatches, we have issued Messages 10, 11, 12, and 13, and therefore they are now also included in this Dispatches should you require an update on InterManager’s recent activities.

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Msg No. 13
Dear Members

 

I am delighted to advise that the final draft of the Crew Change Protocols – which has been duly agreed among all industry stakeholders – is attached and is also available on our website.

https://www.intermanager.org/resources/covid-19/

The document is now with IMO, and we understand that it will be sent as a recommendation to all Flag States.

We sincerely hope all stakeholders will start using it.

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Msg No. 12

Dear Members,

 

I am writing at this at the close of business on 4th May. The crew change situation is very dynamic and changes every hour; not weeks or days as it has been in the last six weeks.

As of last weekend, the Polish Government does NOT require Polish seafarers to quarantine on arrival back home. Crew changes are mostly performed using buses and Berlin’s airports, as Poland’s airspace remains officially closed until 09.05.2020: however, some flights are arriving and departing Warsaw (this is the known COVID-19 “new norm” – something is closed but….)

Further in the message, we are enclosing the latest information about Ukraine – thank you, Bogdan Zelenski, from Alpha Navigation.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to discuss one point and stress the importance of POOLING resources again. We are observing a new phenomenon – airlines are making flights public only to cancel them 48-hours prior to departure. We strongly believe that this is due to the lack of passengers for the particular flight, leaving our members’ seafarers and the organising companies in a real pickle. It is too late to make new flight arrangements, which results in an entire crew change being called off. This, in turn, creates frustration on both the office and seafarers’ side (on-signing and off-signing).

InterManager has tried to facilitate the pooling of travelling seafarers, however – so far – we’ve received data from two companies for a total of 113 crew, but many are “watching us”.  The origins and destinations are Panama, Bahamas, Nigeria, Malta, and South America for Romanian, Ukrainian, and Russian crew.   If we can get more on board of our system, then it will undoubtedly be worth it, and once everyone realises that interest is increasing, it will encourage them to get on board too.

 

As for what is trading – yes some scheduled flights are operating, and many more are expected to operate and be subsequently cancelled, but this highlights the value in the pooling idea.  As the scheduled flights are limited or unreliable, it gives more credibility to the concept of chartering flights instead.

 

Here is an update on QA CrewConnex

 

We are very pleased with the encouraging responses we have received so far on QA CrewConnex, and the invaluable input and ideas that have been put to us.  We have already received interest and crew data from a number of companies who have problems with crew changes due to the current climate with the COVID-19 situation.  What is absolutely vital for the project to work is the collaboration and input from as many companies as possible.  The more information we have on crew numbers, key departure and arrival points, and preferred dates, the quicker we can expedite the chartering of aircraft and get crew moving.

 

Collaboration is key

The more companies that get on board, the more successful we will all be in ensuring the safe passage of our crew travellers.

For further information on our six steps to crew travel success during the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit https://www.qatravelsos.com/qa-crew-connex

 

 

Pre-arranging charter flights specifically for crew travel

An idea has been put to us to look into the option of arranging charters between the main hub airports, e.g. Manila to Amsterdam on a specific date and we are putting this out to the shipping community to garner interest in the flight.  The price of individual seats will obviously depend on the load factor, so the more interest, the better.  In order to garner further interest in this option, it would be useful to have as much information as possible so we can identify the most popular routes. Therefore, we have added a suggestion box to the website, so please message us to indicate your preferred routes, crew numbers, and/or any other pertinent information you feel will be useful. If there is enough interest on your desired route, we will arrange a charter option for your crew travellers. Please visit https://www.qatravelsos.com/suggestions to provide further information.

 

 

Hope for the future

While the majority of countries still have imposed travel bans or severe restrictions on travel, there does appear to be movement now towards a phased, progressive easing of these restrictions which should open up more options for crew movement. The need for allowing the movement of key workers is essential, but it is equally essential that this is done by adhering to the guidelines issued by the relevant international bodies and governments. All of our partners involved in QA CrewConnex work closely with the governments, and all steps are taken to ensure the safety of not only the crew, but also the local population of where the crew transits take place.

 

Stay Safe.

 

QA Travel Isle of Man

 

 

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Update from Ukraine from our Member – Alpha Navigation:

 

Please let us inform you that Ukraine has extended quarantine measures until May 22, 2020, though some restrictions will be lifted on May 11, 2020.


At the moment, all air traffic remains suspended within Ukraine and internationally, though maritime and some land borders remain open. 

Ukrainian citizens and residents returning to the country must sign a promissory note that they will go on self-isolation for 14 days. The ship manager, ship owners, and crew managers are not required to provide assistance during self-isolation. 


Ukrainian seafarers may travel abroad in case of confirmed crew changes, and must have all necessary documents/permits to hand. 


The nearest airport for Ukrainian seafarers presently is Minsk (MSQ), Belarus. 

Argentum Travel arranges air and land transportation for Ukrainian seafarers while obtaining all necessary permissions for Ukraine government.

We will keep you informed of any changes.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any support.

Our emergency contact details are
Julia Makarova, cell +380674805178 (24/7) WhatsApp, Viber. 
Email: jm@alncc.com
Ellen Makarova,  cell +380674802850 (24/7) WhatsApp, Viber. 
Email: em@alncc.com
Bogdan Zelenski, Cell: +351 967 93 2005 (24/7) WhatsApp, Viber. 
Email: bz@alncc.com

For more detailed information about international and domestic travel for Ukrainian seafarers, you may also contact Marine travel corporation – 

 

Argentum Travel – info@argentum.travel 

Phone: +380 97 803 68 73. 

 

Stay safe, 

 

AlphaNavigation.com 

 

 

 

 

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Message No. 11

 

Kuba,

 

Thank you for your email.   This announcement was released yesterday by the National Government as a “holding measure” to allow several things to come together:

 

1) to streamline the implementation of the use of the RT-PCR swab test on all incoming Filipino seafarers.  This is being implemented as part of the government’s effort to find a safe way to facilitate the return of all incoming seafarers to their final destinations (especially to the far flung provinces).

 

The principle in applying this test is as follows:

 

If the result of the RT-PCR test is negative:

A seafarer can go home with a quarantine document from the BOQ for their LGU

(No quarantine needed)

If the result of the RT-PCR is positive:

An asymptomatic seafarer is transferred to a quarantine facility for 14 days.  If still asymptomatic after 14 days, the seafarer can go home with a medical clearance/ quarantine document issued by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) for their Local Government Unit (LGU).

The issued BOQ medical certificate will also serve as the pass for the crew to go home via air or land transport, or via interisland ferry.

What the government wants to do is make sure that the testing procedures are properly and effectively carried out, and that the results are provided as quickly as possible in order to keep the crew moving home bound.

 

2) to declog the Metropolis (Manila) which has essentially been filled up with returning overseas Filipinos, who upon arrival, were mandated to be placed under a supervised 14-day quarantine under the supervision of the Department of Health and Bureau of Quarantine.

 

This measure, which as you know was implemented a little over ten days ago, created the unintended consequence of completely taking over just about all known and acceptable public accommodations to serve as quarantine facilities.

 

Given that a significant number of overseas Filipinos are still to be repatriated, then the National Government had to find a way to rethink what is (in reality) a logistical and supply chain issue, effectively managing the flow of individuals through a testing and health screening protocol in order to reinforce the government’s objective of containing any and all potential transmission vectors, particularly from inbound citizens.

 

This is no different from what most other countries are requiring from any inbound individuals. In the case of the Philippines, our numbers (of returning citizens) are many times larger than most countries because of our diaspora, which has actually been a key driver of our economy over the years.

 

The implementation of step 1 above will now not only be given to arriving seafarers and other overseas Filipinos, but will also be used to clear out local accommodation that has filled up with nationals undergoing their 14-day quarantine, making way for a whole new set of arrivals.

 

3) to facilitate the unimpeded return of Filipino seafarers, on their last mile journeys to their respective homes in the provinces. The effective coordination by the Department of the Interior and Local Governments (DILG) of all LGUs nationwide will hasten the reuniting of seafarers with their families that is long overdue;

 

To carry these three measures out, the National Government wants to take this week to focus on aligning all new protocols to make sure that each sector is as balanced as possible to ensure we can avoid (where possible) the waiting time that has characterised the initial wave of returnees to the country.

 

To summarise:

  • testing upon arrival which will allow those with negative results of the virus to go home within 48-hours or arrival;
  • testing of those currently undergoing the 14-day quarantine to cut the period short and immediately go home if found to be negative for the virus; and
  • the “seamless” coordination of passage from Manila to the crew member’s last mile across various jurisdictions

 

In the most ideal of circumstances, the above three processes should be fairly straightforward logistical issues, which can be managed.  The challenge we face here in the Philippines, which is not unlike what the group is reporting back from what it hears to be similar challenges from other parts of the world, includes working through:

 

  • the National Government and its different line agencies and making sure that there is a clear understanding and interpretation of all rules and regulations imposed;
  • the Local Government Units that also have their own rules and policies; and
  • the need to coordinate a cross border supply chain of air, land, and sea platforms, which also have their respective government protocols to work through

 

I apologise for the lengthy response to your query, but felt that it would be good if I can try and frame the situation on the ground to provide a better perspective.  I would like to think that this will not hamper our medium-term plans, and instead consider this temporary halt by the government as a “tempo gathering step” so that we can be better coordinated and more efficient as we move forward.

 

Let me end by sharing what Doris and I have been working on as the key elements to get our government’s support: they have been listening and responding and that is why we see these latest efforts as now “bringing everything together”.

 

OVERALL POSITION

 

What the local industry has put forward to the government is built around the following key requests:

1)  declare seafarers and marine personnel as “essential global workers” who perform a vital global service, and whose travel back into and out of the Philippines be facilitated by the government;

 

2)  facilitate crew changes at designated ports in the Philippines, such as Manila, Subic, Batangas, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao, to serve as the country’s gateway and contribution to the global shipping community.

3) facilitate the unimpeded return of Filipino seafarers, on their last mile journeys to their respective homes in the provinces. The effective coordination by the DILG of all LGUs nationwide will hasten this effort.

 

4) facilitate the unimpeded travel of seafarers from their respective home provinces to Manila to begin the process of re-deployment onto the international merchant fleet – either through crew changes at specially designated ports around the country, or by air travel to regional and international destinations after receiving a medical clearance to travel based on the use of a combination of rapid antibody testing and RT-PRC swab testing;

 

5) create specially dedicated “green lanes” at our international airports to efficiently process and handle the movement of Filipino seafarers in and out of the country;

 

 

I hope this is all helpful.  Happy to further clarify any of the items shared above.

 

Wishing you a restful Sunday…and a good week ahead.

 

Best regards,

 

Dito

 

Gerardo A. Borromeo

Vice-Chairman
Chief Executive Officer

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Message No. 10

 

Dear Members,

 

In order to answer the many questions, comments, and suggestions received from our members (especially very pro-active crew managers who are extremely concerned about the wellbeing of their seafarers not being able to be relieved/board the ship) please find attached the guidelines and explanations as received from ICS.  (Dispatches do not have attachments, therefore please e-mail me kuba.szymanski@intermanager.or and I will send them to you.

Over the last several weeks InterManager, on your behalf, has tried to pro-actively suggest a “way forward” and we believe that the attached documents provide answers as to why the “silver bullet” is still not available.

 

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Last week:

  • Working on COVID-19
  • Working on Enclosed Space Death project
  • Criminalisation of Seafarers – Guidelines

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This Week:

  • Working on COVID-19
  • Working on Enclosed Space Death project
  • Criminalisation of Seafarers – Guidelines

 

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Looking forward:

  • IMO VC 30.04.2020
  • Working on Enclosed Space Death project
  • Working on COVID-19

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Mt Kilimanjaro August 2020

We are taking on this giant of the world in August 2020, and we are looking for participants now so that training can begin and we can build a good plan for fundraising.

This is certainly one of life’s achievements and will not be forgotten easily!

Minimum sponsorship amount £5000.

Brochure and video being created.

I hope you’re well and will join me in a canoe or on a trek, maybe?

 

Kindest regards

Rebecca Bridgen

Events Fundraiser

Sailors’ Society

+ 44 7712 404130

 

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Brgds Kuba

Capt. Kuba Szymanski

Secretary General

+44 7624 498 266

 

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