发布日期:2021-08-25 09:39:11   |      阅读:364 次   |   评论数: 0条

Addressing concerns and worries about working with Indian Seafarers…….



We understand that since the deterioration of the COVID–19 situation in India in April 2021 and reaching its peak in May this year, there had been concerns by other seafarers regarding sharing working space with their Indian counterparts.  Many of them have refused to join ship that has Indian seafarers onboard due to fear of being infected by their Indian counterparts and/or similar concerns when calling at Indian ports.   Even though these fears are exaggerated and grounded in extremity, the fear is nevertheless real. If such fears are not addressed, it will continue to discourage many available seafarers from joining ships with Indian seafarers.  
我们了解到,自 2021 年 4 月新冠疫情在印度恶化并在今年 5 月达到顶峰以来,其他国家海员一直对与印度船员同船工作存在顾虑。因为担心感染新冠,很多人拒绝上有印度船员的船,拒绝前往印度港口,尽管这些担忧在某种程度上被夸大,但不可否认,这种恐惧是现实存在的,如果这样的顾虑不能的到很好的解决,那么仍将有众多船员对与印度船员同船工作心存芥蒂。



As a responsible manning company, Singhai feels strongly that we need to do our part to help the shipping industry, and in particular Chinese seafarers, dispel their anxieties and fears.  In the process of gaining a better understanding of the COVID–19 control measures and protocols that are currently implemented by shipping companies onboard vessels with relatively big number of Indian seafarers in their fleets, we designed a set of questionnaires to seek feedback from key persons of the shipping companies such as Hafnia and Wallem. The questionnaire we designed covered essential aspects of this topic such as the approximate percentage of Indian seafarers in their fleet, common concerns and worries expressed by non-Indian seafarers on vessels with Indian seafarers, measures implemented by company to address those concerns and worries, challenges for their vessels calling at Indian ports, control measures implemented to protect seafarers being infected by the virus on board and at Indian ports, COVID–19 management plan and crew change protocol, measures and actions taken to raise the confidence and willingness of non-Indian seafarers to work with Indian seafarers and/or calling at Indian ports. 

Overall, we are happy to note from the feedback that all shipping companies we interviewed have comprehensive COVID–19 policies, guidelines, procedures, outbreak management plan and crew change protocols to protect their seafarers working onboard in place.  With shipping companies having implemented COVID–19 control measures that are more comprehensive than international guidelines published by IMO, WHO and ICS International Chamber of Shipping, and the COVID–19 situation in India having stabilized in the past few months, we are of the opinion that fears of seafarers being infected by their Indian counterparts and/or similar concerns when calling at Indian ports are sufficiently addressed.  



After interviewing shipping companies, we know that there are multiple layers of fencing in place to protect seafarers from other nationalities working onboard with Indian counterparts.  We will summarize these defenses without going into details as we believe the majority of seafarers, including Chinese seafarers, are already familiar with such defenses from the multi-media.  The multiple layers of fencing that are currently put in place include:



·First, ensuring seafarers already working onboard should not be a COVID–19 risk. All seafarers currently onboard had already been quarantined for at least two weeks before joining and should be out of the typical incubation period.  The worry is over the replacement crew who need to travel to those countries that the ship will berth or anchor. 



·Second, temporary regulatory restrictions enacted by various governments, based on their own risk assessment against country with higher COVID–19 infections.  These restrictions include travel and entry restrictions and prohibition of crew changes within its ports. This imposition of regulations and restrictions is the prerogative of the respective governments.  While these regulations and restrictions may occasionally seem unreasonable or even discriminative, we must recognize and accept that they are imposed with the common good intent to protect their people, and seafarers, from being infected by COVID–19, particularly by the Delta variant, which is more contagious than the other strains, and can result in hyperlocal outbreaks. 




·Third, stringent joining ship protocols which require seafarers, regardless of nationalities, to undergo generally minimum of 3 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests before departure of country of origin, arrival in country where the ship is berth/anchor, during the mandatory quarantine to confirm the seafarer concerned is not infected. These multiple PCR tests provide a good stopper to break the chain of potential infected seafarers from joining the ship. In addition to the requirement of PCR tests, seafarers from certain countries are required to undergo serological testing of anti‐SARS‐CoV‐2 ImmunoglobulinG(IgG) and/or Immunoglobulin M (IgM) before they depart the country of origin. Moreover, some shipping companies such as Wallem require seafarers to have a negative Antigen test at the gangway before embarking their vessel. 

第三,严格的上船流程。海员,不论国籍,在离开原籍国时,强制隔离期间,抵达船舶停靠港口或锚地后,通常至少要接受 3 次核酸检测确认有关海员没有被感染。除核酸检测外,某些国家的海员在离开原籍国之前还需要接受抗体和血清检测。此外,华林等一些航运公司要求海员在登船前在舷梯上进行阴性抗原检测。


·Fourth, quarantine requirement usually lasting 14 days.  Apart from the usual 14-day quarantine, seafarers from countries with higher COVID–19 infection rate may have to undergo an additional 7 days of quarantine.  Quarantine aims to restrict and isolate seafarers who are currently asymptomatic but may had been unknowingly exposed and infected. The objective of quarantine is to prevent onwards transmission of the virus and to monitor seafarers for any display of symptom. The 14–day quarantine requirement technically gives sufficient time allowance for seafarers concerned to manifest any COVID–19 symptom should they be infected.    



·Fifth, vaccination of seafarers.  On 25 Mar 2021, WHO had issued a Joint statement calling on governments to prioritize seafarers, together with other essential workers, in their national COVID–19 vaccination programme. The joint statement also emphasized that seafarers need to be protected through vaccination as soon as possible, to facilitate their safe movement across borders. Although vaccination is still voluntary in most countries, most governments are nevertheless strongly encouraging vaccination.With increasing evidence that fully vaccinated individual reduce their possibility of infection and suffer less severe symptoms if infected, more and more individuals are coming forward to get vaccinated.  Some shipping companies have made vaccination a pre-requisite for joining ship while others will only allow an unvaccinated seafarer to join ship after they cleared the tough crew change protocol.  Regardless, many seafarers are getting themselves vaccinated either because of the ship joining requirement or on their own convinced that vaccination does provide them with a higher level of protection. With more major ports in the world supporting the vaccination of international seafarers against COVID–19, some shipping companies have arranged their seafarers onboard to vaccinate at ports of call whenever the opportunity arises.  Some shipping companies have even offered vaccination to the family members of seafarers.  With more seafarers being vaccinated, it would provide protection for seafarers and their counterparts onboard overall as well as smoothen the already challenging crew changes protocol.     

第五,为海员接种疫苗。2021 年 3 月 25 日,世卫组织发布联合声明,呼吁各国政府在安排疫苗接种时优先考虑海员及其他关键工人。联合声明还强调,海员需要尽快接种疫苗,以保证他们能安全快速地跨境流动。疫苗接种在大多数国家是自愿的,但大多数政府还是积极鼓励其国民接种疫苗。越来越多的证据表明,完成疫苗接种的人感染可能性大幅降低,即便感染了,也大多为轻症。一些航运公司已将完成疫苗接种作为上船的先决条件,另一些航运公司则对未接种疫苗的海员履行更为严格的防疫防控程序。许多海员也积极进行疫苗接种,或是出于上船的要求,或是相信疫苗能有效的对个人进行防护。同时,越来越多的世界主要港口开始为海员提供疫苗接种服务,一些航运公司也开始安排在船船员到停靠港口进行疫苗接种,另外一些公司还为船员家属安排疫苗接种。随着海员疫苗接种率的不断提升,船员在船健康得到保护的同时换员流程也将得到进一步简化。


·Sixth, individual shipping company’s comprehensive COVID–19 management practices. All shipping companies we interviewed have a set of comprehensive COVID–19 policies, guidelines, procedure, outbreak management plan and Crew Change Protocols to protect their seafarers onboard and their vessels calling at ports.  We are confident all other shipping companies have such strong COVID–19 management practices too.  Strong COVID–19 management practices not only ensure the ships’ ability to carry out their routine operations but also enhance the health and safe environment for seafarers working onboard. 



·Last but not least, self-protective measures.  After more than 18 months of living under COVID–19 environment, we believe that all of us including seafarers have learnt the safety measures we should adopt to protect ourselves.  Safety measures such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue are easy to implement. All seafarers onboard should implement such protective measures to the full extent possible to protect themselves while working onboard. 





After interviewing shipping companies and developing a deep and comprehensive understanding of the safe management of COVID–19 onboard, we believe governments and shipping companies have done all they can do to protect all seafarers, including Chinese seafarers, while working onboard and calling at Indian ports and that these measure collectively provide an extremely safe working environment against COVID–19 for seafarers of all nationalities.  Let’s work harmonize with seafarer regardless of where they come towards a better shipping industry for all of us. 



Introduction of author:


Mr. Mike Kee is the Singhai Training Director and Executive Director of Singapore (Nantong) International Maritime Institute.  He was the Captain of 3 Singapore Navy warships.  Mr. Mike Kee was appointed as IMO consultant from 2003 to 2008 and he joined the ILO Working Committee for the design, develop and conduct the Training of Trainers and Maritime Inspectors on the application of MLC at International Training Centre of ILO, Turin.





于2000年从新加坡海军光荣退伍,此前服役于多条新加坡海军军舰,并担任过3艘军舰的舰长。2003年至2008年担任国际海事组织顾问,他加入了国际劳工组织工作委员会,负责设计、开发和开展培训师和海事检查员关于 MLC 在国际上的履约培训。