The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) on Wednesday issued new procedures, health, and safety protocols for the repatriation of seafarers and crew changes in domestic and international ports in the country in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a statement, MARINA said these new protocols would apply in situations such as 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, and Filipino seafarers transiting in the Philippines (airport/terminal to airport/terminal).
In addition, it said there are also new protocols for situations such as 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).
MARINA Administrator Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad (Ret) said the revised protocols were made to comply with existing safety and health protocols of the Philippine government and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
“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,” Empedrad said.
In particular, MARINA said the protocol on crew change and the repatriation of seafarers follows the recommendations of the IMO as contained in its Circular Letter No. 4204/Add. 15 dated May 5, 2020.
However, it said shipping companies will only be allowed to implement crew change in ports that have been adapted to comply with health and safety protocols.
“The crew change hub locations will only be allowed to undertake crew change activities upon evaluation and approval by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) that the location is ready and will be capable of complying with all protocols, including undertaking RT-PCR swab testing at the port of disembarkation,” MARINA said.
Currently, it said only the Port of Manila is allowed as a crew change hub, and soon at Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan.
“Other crew change hub locations are being considered such as Subic, Batangas, and Davao,” MARINA said.
It said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has tasked the DOTr, through IATF resolution No. 53, to evaluate and authorize ports as crew change hubs.
Moreover, it said the new procedures are consistent with Joint Circular No. 01, s. 2020, entitled “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 Covid-19 Pandemic.”
The circular, dated July 2, 2020, was jointly issued to consolidate all protocols issued by concerned government agencies in relation to crew change and repatriation of seafarers, it said.
Agencies involved in the circular include the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Transportation, Department of Health, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Source: Philippines News Agency