More crew change woes emerge as Covid crisis mutates in new strain
CREW changes have become more difficult as much of the world locks down again following the emergence of several new and more transmissible variants of Covid-19, reports London's Tanker Operator
24 January 2021 - 19:00
'I believe we may be heading for a new crew change crisis every bit as bad as last spring,' said Hamburg's Danica Crewing managing director Henrik Jensen.
Danica specialises in crew deployment and has been assisting a range of ship operators to achieve crew changes over the past year.
'Over the past six months crew changes have been possible in many cases, although they have been costly and complex. However, now we are seeing a range of new restrictions and barriers to crew travel while also facing some serious issues in relation to crew health risk factors. I can foresee this impacting heavily on crew changes for the next few month,' Mr Jensen said.
'Requiring Covid-19 tests at a set period before travel isn't always easy to comply with depending on where the crew change is being effected from. Tests may not be available at short notice and there may not be available accommodation in which to isolate crew members while they await the results,' Mr Jensen said.
'Air travel requires crew to spend many hours in a contained space with large numbers of other people. There are plenty of aircraft available to lease for private transits but this option is really only economical if there are large numbers of crew which is not usually the case,' he said.
'One or more Covid-19 infected patients on a vessel is a very serious situation as there is insufficient medical care available onboard to treat a serious case. It is very difficult to mitigate this risk and in some cases we have to abandon crew change plans if they involve a long transit or a high-risk area.'
Greater implementation of the IMO's crew change protocols instead of national rules could improve the situation but Mr Jensen is not optimistic of this being a solution at present.
'While I appreciate and support the international cooperation and effort that has gone into producing this excellent protocol, unfortunately I think that it may be a remote dream as we have local governments rules, rules in the transit airports/countries and individual airline rules, and I do not think it is realistic to expect all these parties to come together.
'We are looking at some hard months ahead,' Mr Jensen predicted 'It seems likely that things will only get better once the vaccination programmes around the globe begin to take effect.'
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