INDUSTRY OPINION

Challenges in unprecedented times – by Dr. Sanjay Bhavnani-Director & COO MMS Maritime ( India )Pvt. Ltd. and Chairman FOSMA.

Firstly, we thank all seafarers who continue to work hard despite the global pandemic in ensuring that all vessels always continue to run safely and perform pollution-free operations.

The COVID-19 has had a widespread impact on the smooth operation of the shipping operations globally, and no industry has been an exception to it. As is well known, several countries have imposed a varying degree of restrictions on the conduct of crew changes coupled with virtually a complete prohibition on international flights. Such restrictions have impaired the industry’s ability to embark and disembark those seafarers who truly deserve to be disembarked and proceed on a well-earned vacation back at home along with their family members.

Estimates suggest that every month, globally, 100,000 seafarers finish their contracts and would normally be flown home – but the coronavirus has had a huge negative impact on this repatriation process.

Experts working on the medical side have conveyed that such a condition has been observed almost all the time within individuals whose body immunity is considerably lowered due to some of the other prolonged medical condition. Such individuals are either advanced in age or very young, which makes them more susceptible to such infections.

Seafarers are working under tremendous pressure and doing an amazing job keeping world trade moving. But many are, understandably, anxious about the uncertainty of when they can see families again because of restrictions on crew changes and quarantine periods being enforced on arrival at some countries.

Standard companies focusing on the welfare of their seafarers have taken several steps of encouraging all support to their seafarers and their families during this difficult time. They have noted the possible risks of the crew’s mental state being affected as well as how contagious that can be on the entire crew morale on board. Hence, they are doing all possible to boost the morale of the staff, encouraging them continuously and keeping close communication with them to ensure that no difference lies in the correct information being disseminated and all likely rumors and inaccurate information identified to the extent possible.

Amidst the present situation, such companies have assured their seafarers about all possible being done to reassure them to ensure that the welfare of the seafarers always continues to get the required priority. Continuous communication between and with the National Governments, Flag states, the International maritime community, Employers and the Union associations, and all other stakeholders continue to be on to find and establish a unified strategy of dealing with this problem.

The International Maritime Organization, on its part, has been urging all member Governments to alleviate this problem in close consultation with others so that the interstate processes can be aligned as much as possible.
The industry stays fully committed to deal with all these challenges and look forward to continuing to work closely with all the seafarers to overcome them satisfactorily in the most desired manner.

The Safety of our seafarers continues to be a topmost priority and strives to avoid exposure of our seafarers in ports or places (sign off) whereby they may have any risk of infection due to undue exposure. We take this opportunity to emphasize the focus of providing the necessary support to all seafarers and their families.

We do always recognize the concern of all seafarers and their family members and request them to recognize the present limitations and all efforts being made by us in line with that of all leading global maritime organizations. Also, it is essential to realize that all information in circulation may not be correct and may well be a result of misplaced understanding.

Seafarers have proved to be a very resilient lot, and they generate a lot of pride in the minds of the entire industry the way they have performed and gone around with the extra demands placed on them.

We express our total solidarity with them and their families and express our gratitude in keeping the global supply chain moving without any hindrances.

MMS Maritime( India) Pvt Ltd, a ship manning company of the Meiji Shipping Co., Ltd of Japan ( established in 1911) was set up in in India in 2001. The company is involved in the crewing operations of various large size Gas,both LPG and LNG, Chemical & Oil tankers and container vessels 9000- 10000 TEUs. All the vessels are chartered on a long-term basis to oil majors and other leading global maritime companies.

The fleet is also set to expand further with several oil/chemical vessels planned to be inducted as new buildings delivered from various ship yards. In addition, a few chemical vessels operating within dedicated transportation chemical business are also lined up for induction very soon within the fleet.

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