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Marina issues new procedures on crew changes, repatriation of seafarers

Marina issues new procedures on crew changes, repatriation of seafarers
August 5, 2020

The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), under the guidance of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), recently issued detailed procedures and health and safety protocols on the repatriation of Filipino seafarers and the conduct of crew changes in the country’s domestic and international ports.

These cover the following: Filipino seafarers joining a ship docked in the Philippines or overseas (outbound); Filipino seafarers leaving a ship (inbound); special procedures for Filipino seafarers leaving a cruise ship docked in Philippine seaports; Filipino seafarers transiting in the Philippines (airport/terminal to airport/terminal); foreign seafarers joining a ship docked in the Philippine seaport from the airport (airport to ship); foreign seafarers leaving a ship docked in Philippine seaport to an airport (ship to airport); and foreign seafarers transiting in the philippines (airport/terminal to airport/terminal).

This is consistent with Joint Circular 01 Series of 2020, dated July 2, 2020, also called “Guidelines for the Establishment of the Philippine Green Lane to Facilitate the Speedy and Safe Travel of Seafarers, Including their Safe and Swift Disembarkation, and Crew Change during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) Pandemic.”

Maritime Industry Authority chief Robert Empedrad said “the revised protocol has ensured that the procedures on crew change and the repatriation of seafarers are done in compliance with the existing safety and health protocols issued by concerned government agencies for effective crew change, as well as the IMO (International Maritime Organization) protocol.”

He also said the protocol on crew change and the repatriation of seafarers followed the procedures recommended by the IMO.

This, however, does not mean that shipping companies would be allowed to implement crew change in any port. The crew change hub locations would only be allowed to initiate crew changes after upon the evaluation and approval of DoTr that the location is ready and will be capable of complying with all protocols. This includes conducting reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab testing at the port of disembarkation.

The DoTr has been tasked by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to evaluate ports that may be authorized as such hubs.

Currently, only the Port of Manila is allowed to serve as a crew change hub, but Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan is expected to follow suit. Other crew change hubs being considered are the ports in Subic, Batangas and Davao.

Empedrad said that “Marina expresses its utmost support to the DoTr in its effort to make the Philippines as an international crew change hub.

As a major provider of Filipino seafarers to the global labor market, we should spearhead the support to all seafarers who have been recognized as key workers.”