Crew Change in Times of COVID-19

dship Carriers supports timely crew changes initiative in the shipping industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken its toll in many areas of the shipping industry, but as the pandemic continues to progress, it is becoming a major burden for those working on the front lines. Despite the provisions of the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention, intended to ensure the well-being of the crew by stipulating that the stay on board ship may not exceed eleven consecutive months, the reality facing many seafarers is vastly different.

The regulations stipulated by the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, state that the crew of a ship may only remain on board for a maximum of 11 consecutive months. Due to travel and transit restrictions imposed because of the global pandemic, ship owners can apply for an extension if they can guarantee that crew members will be replaced in the next possible port.

As a result, it is assumed that across the maritime industry many thousands of seafarers and crew members worldwide are not be able to be relieved and repatriated to their home countries, according to international shipping organizations. At the same time, for those thousands of seafarers on vessels, replacement seafarers are unable to take up their work on board ships and earn a living.

So far, this delicate situation continues to lack internationally compliant regulations. Therefore, it is up to shipping and ship management companies to find appropriate and prompt solutions in this regard. The maritime industry has an obligation to protect the health and safety of all persons involved, not only because they play a vital role in ensuring the quality of operational processes, but more importantly to support their physical and mental wellbeing.

As Lars Feller, Global Vice President of dship Carriers put it: “Guaranteeing smooth crew change processes is our priority and means taking care of those who make them possible in the first place. In addition to own processes and monitoring mechanisms, the creation of awareness in this regard is important. For this reason, we address timely crew changes across all levels within dship, but also in our daily communication with all key external stakeholders.”

“We are aware of the precarious nature of the situation and it is a responsibility that we commit ourselves more than ever to the welfare of all involved. Not just for business reasons, but because the health, safety and wellbeing of our crews is of paramount importance to us. Or to put it differently: it is the right thing to do and all of our vessels are presently complying by the rules and regulations.”

dship Carriers embraced their responsibility early on in the pandemic. They identified that part of the solution had to be to closely monitor information concerning the duration of service on b oard to ensure the crews safety. Thus, in close cooperation with the group’s own QHSES department and all key stakeholders, dship Carriers was able to successfully develop and implement their own monitoring mechanism to proactively identify overdue crew members and initiate a change according to the legal regulations. With this approach, dship Carriers has looked to accept their responsibility and support seafarers during this global crisis. Further action across the maritime industry will follow, as shipping companies, ship management agents and partners work together to provide seafarers and crew members with the support they need and deserve.

Portrait of Lars Feller
Lars Feller, Global Vice President dship Carriers