News Bulletin – 8 August 2020

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1. Beginning a maritime career during Covid-19.

7 August 2020 : Like any sector, the maritime industry is facing some new challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic. For those new to the field or considering entering it, there may be a lot of confusion surrounding these changes. What can new or soon-to-be seafarers expect of their maritime careers during the pandemic?

The uncertainty of Covid-19 casts some doubt over the immediate future of mariners and their work. At the same time, the industry is in a position to improve the situations of mariners in the years to come. It may be a challenging time to join the industry, but the future is promising for recruits.

The widespread recession brought about by Covid-19 has threatened many industries, but shipping is unlikely to crumble. Maritime shipping still accounts for roughly 90% of the transportation of traded goods globally. Even with lower international trade rates, the global economy can’t survive without it.

International trade hasn’t disappeared altogether, but it is declining in the face of Covid-19. If pandemic restrictions lead to broader cultural and societal shifts, this trend could continue as more countries turn away from outsourcing. If so, the maritime sector will still be essential after the pandemic, but perhaps marginally smaller.

2. Cruise employees were stuck on a ship and forced to work without pay, lawsuit says.

7 August 2020 : When cruises were first told to anchor in March as the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Bahamas Paradise line presented Dragan Janicijevic and other crew members with a choice, he said: Agree to stay on their docked ship without pay, or never work for the company again.

A no-sail order for cruise ships was only supposed to last for a month, and the risk of catching the virus seemed greater onshore than on a liner with no positive cases and a good-paying job. So he took the deal.

But after the mandate was extended for another 100 days, the picture grew far more grim. Janicijevic and thousands of other foreign workers were stuck aboard for months, he said, unable to make any money but blocked from returning to their home countries. Many were ordered to keep cooking, cleaning and doing laundry in hopes of paychecks that never came.

3. India : Three cranes collapse at container terminal run by JNPT in heavy winds.

6 August 2020 : Three rail mounted quay cranes used for loading and unloading containers at the terminal run by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) collapsed in high velocity winds that lashed Mumbai on Wednesday evening. There were no casualties. No ships were at berth when the cranes crashed, port officials said.

The three quay cranes that collapsed were built at South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co Ltd.The terminal is one of the five operating at JNPT, India’s biggest state-run container port. The other four terminals are run by private entities.The JNPT-run terminal known as JNPCT has eight rail mounted quay cranes or so-called ship to shore cranes along its 680-metre berth length.

Shipping industry sources said that the terminal will be partially affected by the cranes collapse. JNPCT can continue container loading and unloading operations from one berth till the three cranes are re-mounted, he said. Owing to inclement weather and above normal gusts of wind, there has been damage to three cranes at JNPCT. However, there were no injuries and everyone is safe. The exact damage is being ascertained,” JNPT Deputy Chairman Unmesh Wagh told BusinessLine.

4. All 11 missing seafarers in Beirut now safe; 24 Pinoys injured in blast.

6 August 2020 : All eleven missing Filipino seafarers in Beirut have been found safe after a massive blast rocked the Lebanese capital, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Wednesday night. According to GMA News’ JP Soriano, the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs received a report from the Philippine Embassy in Beirut stating that all the missing seafarers had been accounted for.

The DFA earlier said that the seafarers suffered minor injuries but had since been transferred to the custody of their employer, Abu Merhi Cruises.Meanwhile, the number of Filipinos injured in the explosion has climbed to 24. Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Dodo Dulay, posted on Twitter early Wednesday morning that the Philippine Embassy in Beirut has the latest tally of affected OFWs.

5. Philippines : Marina issues new procedures on crew changes, repatriation of seafarers.

5 August 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.”

6. Macao : Tougher measures for Hong Kong-Macao cargo ship crew members.

5 August 2020 : Addressing Monday’s press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus situation, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou announced that the Macao government has now implemented tougher measures for crew members of cargo ships plying the Hong Kong-Macao route.

Leong pointed out that before the new measures, the crew members merely had to be tested for COVID-19 every seven days without having to undergo quarantine during their stay in Macao. Leong said that now the crew members, almost all of them Macao residents, are subject to “closed-loop management” during their stay in Macao, according to which upon going ashore in Macao, they will be transported by special vehicles to one of the government’s “quarantine hotels”.

They must stay in their guestroom until they go to work again when they will be transported by special vehicles back to the pier to board their Hong Kong-bound vessels. Leong said that the new measures will ensure that the crew members will not go into the community in Macao, so as to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading here in case they have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

7. Crew Welfare Innovation Challenge Launched.

4 August 2020 : Challenge for start-ups and SMEs will fund and test application that helps improve the safety of deck operations, minimizes fatigue on board, reduces administration on board and improves overall crew welfare.

Mobile satellite communications provider Inmarsat has joined forces with Shell Shipping and Maritime and maritime digital consultancy Thetius to launch a new ‘Open Innovation Challenge’ for start-ups and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The challenge aims to identify technology that can benefit crew safety, health and wellbeing at sea at a moment when COVID-19 has exposed the welfare of seafarers to global scrutiny.

The six-week Open Innovation Challenge is looking for novel solutions that have the potential to improve crew safety and welfare across four innovation challenge areas spanning deck safety, fatigue, administration reduction and overall wellbeing.

8. Kenyan seafarers benefits from shipping jobs.

4 August 2020 : Kenya’s intervention to streamline the maritime industry is yielding fruits as more locals are now securing shipping jobs, according to their union. The Seafarers Union of Kenya (SUK) lauded the government for introducing measures to improve the maritime sector and seafaring in the country. 

SUK General Secretary Steve Owaki said Kenyan seafarers with valid documents were now able to secure jobs in cruise, cargo and fishing vessels. We thank the government for coming to the rescue of our members who have stayed without jobs for a long time,” said Owaki during a press briefing on Monday in Mombasa.

He said due to the existing agreement between the government and the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), over 500 Kenyan youth have been employed aboard MSC Cruise ships before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Owaki said most of the shipping companies were happy with the performance of Kenyans, saying this would help to create job opportunities for others in the future. 

He said the union was delighted that Kenya joined Djibouti in allowing crew change to take place in their port cities following the global lock down as a result of the Coivd-19 pandemic. Due to governments restrictions, seafarers were not allowed to leave ships once they docked at various ports in a bid to contain spread of coronavirus,” he added.

9. Death Of Seafarer In Nigeria Riddled With Questions About Recruitment Agents.

4 August 2020 : A lot of queries have been raised regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of a 21-year old Tamilian sailor, Vilfen Lobo Vilgious who had been missing since the 26th of July, 2020. Vilfen, working onboard the cargo vessel MV Helvetia for the last 8 months was supposed to return home in 10 days when his family was told about his disappearance at around 10:30 pm on the 26th of July.

The Indian Embassy in Nigeria traced his body the next day after receiving an email from the DGS. Post-mortem reports of the body, by the embassy, suggest death by drowning. The information on the drowning was passed on the Director-general of Shipping, Amitabh Kumar by the National Union of Seafarers of India Vimalson.

Following this, a mail was sent to the Nigerian Federal Authorities and the Indian Embassy to trace the body that was found on the 27th of July. However, there are still questions to be answered over his death and the shady employment he had worked under until his death. He had joined as a trainee with the stipend of $300 per month.

10. India : 300 sailors await return from UAE.

5 August 2020 : More than 300 crew members of several cargo and merchant ships, which have remained docked at ports in the United Arab Emirates, are awaiting Vande Bharat mission flights to return to Gujarat. A majority of the crew members are from Salaya in Devbhoomi Dwarka, Jamnagar and Kutch districts.

These crew members work on various harbours and are engaged for loading and off-loading cargo. Some also travel with ships to other destinations from ports of the UAE. With cargo handling having come to a standstill, these crew members are left with little funds to return and are awaiting Vande Bharat flights.RG businessman Bharat Joshi, who has so far facilitated the return of 1,550 stranded persons from various parts of the UAE back to Gujarat, “These workers got in touch with me over social media and sought help.

They say that the merchant ships are not returning to Gujarat any time soon and they do not have adequate money to bear costs of tickets of chartered flights. The government should operate more Vande Bharat flights from the UAE,” Joshi said. I am from Jamnagar and there are more than 300 of us here who are waiting to return to Gujarat. We are appealing to the government to take us home through Vande Bharat mission flights. There is no work or money,” said Hussain Mohammed, a crew on one of the ships.

11. 11 Killed in Crane Collapse at Indian Shipyard.

3 August 2020 : 11 people were killed at a shipyard in Visakhapatnam, India on Saturday when a jetty crane collapsed during commissioning. The incident occurred during load testing for a recently-installed rail-mounted crane at Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), a government-owned yard in Andhra Pradesh. 

“Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to an accident at HSL facility in Vishakhapatnam. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly,” said Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh in a statement. “[A] Departmental Enquiry Committee has been instituted to establish the causes leading to the accident.”

According to local officials, a team of contractors and shipyard employees were conducting a load test on the crane Saturday morning when it broke apart and collapsed. All 11 people who were in the operating cabin, including four HSL employees, were killed when it struck the ground. No additional personnel were injured.

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