Coronavirus: India Allows Crew Change For Foreign Nationals
The Indian Directorate General of Shipping, also known as DG Shipping, announced on Friday that seafarers of foreign nations would be allowed to sign off in Indian ports. They would then be given the option to obtain flights to their host countries.
However, this decision would only be applicable to all ships, excluding cruise vessels from the list.
The option of flights to ferry the seafarers out of the country would be given via ‘Vande Bharat’ flights, commercial flights and chartered flights.
A Shipping Ministry spokesperson could be heard saying, “This move will not only help India in meeting its international obligation to facilitate the movement of ship crew but would also create job opportunities for Indian seafarers waiting to join a vessel.”
A Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) has been drafted by DG Shipping authorities. This procedure will be followed for the disembarkation of seafarers and in their subsequent repatriation efforts.
The first company to use India’s new approval will be Italy based Mediterranean Shipping Corporation(MSC). Indian crew would replace the foreign crew on board an MSC ship.
Previously, special permissions were granted to 73 foreign seafarers who had disembarked on Indian ports, for returning to their home countries.
Sanjay Prashar, Managing Director of V R Maritime services Pvt Ltd could be heard saying, “Other countries must learn from India.”
In spite of IMO urging countries to open up its ports for disembarkation of seafarers, just 17 countries, excluding India, have reportedly opened up their ports, facilitating crew change.
Reference: The Hindu