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Governments shifting their positions on crew changes after IMO summit

SEVEN crew members of the container vessel Rhine Maersk were repatriated to their home countries from Panama, with six new colleagues signing on to the 4,500-TEU box ship

22 July 2020 - 19:00

SEVEN crew members of the container vessel Rhine Maersk were repatriated to their home countries from Panama, with six new colleagues signing on to the 4,500-TEU box ship.

In another sign that the UK-hosted International Maritime Organization (IMO) summit on crew changes on June 9 is having the desired effect, Panamanian authorities facilitated the repatriation of seafarers. The country was not, however, one of the 13 signatories to the statement made after the event.



According to a Maersk statement, the Danish shipping giant and the Maritime Authority of Panama secured the crew change, with local authorities following strict safety protocol. Maersk echoed the IMO's call for governments to establish procedures for thousands of crew members to return to their families since many have been aboard vessels for up to 10 months, which created challenges for maintaining physical and psychological stability.



The seven crew members were transported from the Panama Canal to the international airport to board a plane, which took them to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. From there, they will take connecting flights on their journey home. The six new members arrived by air, to board Rhine Maersk and continue with its onward passage.



This is the second repatriation of a crew that was successfully carried out from Panama. The first one took place on July 12 on San Pasley, a German owned feeder ship, where thirteen crew members were repatriated on a humanitarian flight, reports Container News, Jacksonville.



Head of Americas Marine at Maersk, Pavan Chhabra, indicated that the Danish shipping company is pleased to see its efforts in engaging with authorities in accelerating the crew changes process is paying off.



'Our sincere thanks go out to the Panamanian authorities and the colleagues/staff involved in Maersk Panama and Americas Liner Operation Cluster (LOC) in achieving this key milestone,' he stated.



Lars Nielsen, Maersk CEO Latin America highlighted that the health of the seafarers is the key to the company's services. 'We are now able to arrange the first crew changes. We need everyone involved to stay focused and engaged in ensuring this practice can continue,' he commented.


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