While the pandemic continues to affect every part of the world, our seafarers face more challenges than most of us. Difficulties in performing crew changes create delays and uncertainties for the timing of returning home after end of contract-time on our vessels. Strict routines onboard the vessels and for on-signers before joining the vessels has been a considerable inconvenience to our crew.
Our ongoing efforts to facilitate crew changes and to minimize risk of COVID-contagion onboard our vessels are primarily geared to protect the safety and wellbeing of our crew, but at the same time ensures the reliability of service to our customers!
Maximum efforts to enable crew change
The uncertainty on the timing of crew changes puts immense pressure on our seafarers. When we are unable to perform crew changes, the risk of exhaustion increase, which again poses a safety risk. As we never compromise on health and safety, we have put maximum efforts into making crew changes on all our vessels in in extremely difficult circumstances both with unreliable air travel, travel restrictions and quarantine measures.
We have over the last three months succeeded to do crew changes on most of the fleet of Klaveness Combination Carriers (KCC), although less than planned due to extraordinary circumstances such as availability and domestic lock-down in the Philippines preventing movement. 6 CABU vessels have been deviated to make crew changes in Manila Bay. During the last three months we succeeded to considerably reduce the crew change “backlog” after having replaced 136 crew members onboard KCC’s vessels over this period.
Continuous evaluations and reassessments of precautionary measures
As the COVID-19 situation and travel regulations around the world changes daily, we continuously reevaluate and reassess precautionary measures, and if necessary, expand and supplement these measures. In the very start of the pandemic we introduced a greater focus on hygiene, social distancing and cancelled shore leave for sailing crew. Onboard visits have only been allowed on a strict need basis and strict routines are implemented to minimize risks of contagion from visitors.
Introduced extensive quarantine measures for on-signers
From August we have introduced more extensive quarantine practice for all on-signers and new routines have been implemented across the fleet. All on-signers are obliged to 10 days isolation and testing in special hotel facilities arranged by Klaveness Ship Management (KSM) before departing their home country and, and where required in the country of embarkation before boarding the vessel. This has so far been the most demanding requirements.
However, the quarantine has been combined with online safety training for crew, making the period in isolation more meaningful. The effect on reducing the risk of COVID-19 contagion onboard a vessel is priceless.
Getting the newbuilds into service when travel restrictions blocks crew travel
Current travel restrictions effectively blocks our ability to get our crew to the shipyard to sail our newbuilds out of China. In this situation we have had to think of new ways of getting our newbuilds into service. Our fourth CLEANBU, the MV Baleen, delivered on the 4th of August, was manned with competent Chinese crew transiting the vessel from the shipyard in China to South Korea where the Baleen’s Klaveness crew is currently waiting in quarantine. We expect to make similar arrangements after the delivery of the fifth CLEANBU, MV Bangus in mid-October.
Crew change becoming more difficult in Asia – Governments need to act now
Strict infection control measures around the world, still make crew change difficult and seafarers, are over-extending their time on board, and many are experiencing fatigue, posing a safety risk. Although we see that it is possible to perform crew changes, it is extremely demanding and difficult. In some areas like the Far East, crew changes have become increasingly difficult, and we expect this to be a challenge for months to come.
Governments need to take action to allow crew change to happen far more swiftly than is the case today for our seafarers to continue securing supply lines in times of a global crisis.