One of the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak on V.Group’s seafarers is that the global travel restrictions have meant the postponement of crew changes meaning seafarers are unable to disembark from vessels at their designated destination upon completion of their contracts.
This means that many seafarers are working extending periods of weeks or months further adding to the negative impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of seafarers.
Given the importance that V.Group places on the safety of its seafarers and in the face of the challenges that the global lockdown presents, earlier last month V.Group successfully completed a crew change via the use of a charter plane during the lockdown for the Dania Ship Management managed vessel, Clipper Talent.
The transfer saw five seafarers travel by plane from Saint Petersburg in Russia to Amsterdam to complete the crew change to the great satisfaction of the joining and relieved seafarers.
In line with V.Group’s commitment to safety and to ensure the protection of the seafarers and their families, the transfer took place following a robust risk assessment and strict precautions during the flight. This included the seafarers having tests for Covid-19 in advance of joining the vessel as an additional safeguard for those already onboard.
The flight, which left from a nearly deserted Pulkovo Airport, was organised by V.Group’s Saint Petersburg office in partnership with Russian-based Severstal Air Company and saw all passengers and crew use personal protective equipment during the flight.
In addition, the pilots and cabin crew had to undertake tests for Covid-19, take a pre-flight medical examination, and wear masks throughout the flight. The passenger areas of the plane were also disinfected before leaving Russia and Holland.
On arrival in Amsterdam airport, the seafarers were transferred directly to the immigration office to avoid any contact with staff and passengers in the airport. Following completion of the immigration checks, the seafarers were taken to the vessel by the agent.
Travelling back on the flight to Saint Petersburg were Russian seafarers from the Clipper Talent who had completed their contracts. On arrival in Russia, the seafarers were transferred to a nearby health resort where they will stay for 14 days before returning home.
Allan Falkenberg, CEO for Crew Management explained that the charter flight was organised externally and we jumped on the opportunity when presented with it.
“This was the first time we have used a charter flight for a crew change during the Covid-19 outbreak and clearly demonstrates the efforts we are making to ensure crew changes can be made when safe to do so to the benefit of seafarers and our customers. We have repatriated crew from cruise vessels via charter flights as well.
“Since the start of the outbreak, many of our seafarers have been unfortunately been stuck or quarantined while joining or leaving a vessel. Our crewing teams have been offering help and support to each and every seafarer to ensure they are safe, have contact with their families and that they have a dedicated contact in case they have questions. We have also worked to get their travel arrangements made as soon as its possible and to date we have been able to repatriate more than 2,000 seafarers from across the globe.
“In addition, our travel provider, GMT, are in constant contact with the world’s major airlines and we continue to explore all options to restart seafarer travel when safe to do so”, said Allan.