Capt. Sanjay Prashar, chairman of International Maritime Federationan and Managing Director of V.R Maritime Services Pvt. Ltd., in an interview with Maritime Destination has stated that his drive to help the seafarers in their time of distress is because he understands their plight as he too, once was a seafarer. “Once a seafarer, always a seafarer” he averred.
Speaking about the charter flights that had been organized to help in the “Sign-on, Sign-off” process he disclosed this was made possible during a meeting that he had with the Minister of Shipping for easing the problems of the seafarers at this critical time. He had explained and emphasized the essential and crucial role of the of these mariners in maintaining the supply chain of critical goods, thus contributing to the country’s economic progress.
Their plight due to lockdown, resulting in non-availability flights for “Sign-on, Sign-off” was highlighted and a plea was made to extend Vande Bharat Mission to these seafarers. “We requested him to accommodate seafarers on board few Air India flights,” he stated. The minister was not averse to this idea but since we found that the Vande Bharat Mission planes were not operating from port cities we decided to operate charter flights on our own”, he added.
The success of this venture can be gauged from the fact that initially there was only one flight per week, which rose to 3 per week and subsequently to one per day. “This has now risen to 3 flights a day,” he disclosed.