Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)’s bulker Anastasia, set for crew change in Japan after months of wait since last September
MSC said it had effectively resolved the matter in a statement. It added, “MSC which maintains the vessel and organises its crew, exhausted all possible options for crew change including efforts at a diplomatic level between Indian and Chinese authorities, was left with no other option but to advise the master of Anastasia to make a short hop to Japan on 4 February after grave concerns for the seafarers’ safety and well-being intensified.”
Caught between the tensions
MSC’s Anastasia was just one of the vessels caught in the trade tension between Australia and China. Over 50 vessels were reportedly stranded off China after ports were directed to disallow offloading. This crisis allegedly stemmed from a trade tension between Australia and China over Huawei Technologies’ barring to build Australia’s 5G network in 2018.
MSC clarified, “MSC tried to convince the chartering and commercial parties in control of the vessel and its cargo to allow a crew change in various locations before arrival in Chinese waters. While it was at anchorage outside the Chinese Port of Caofeidian, COVID-19 protective measures closed off many options in China which would normally have been available.
“MSC prioritised the Japanese option as the quickest and most efficient way to provide the necessary relief for the crew and to enable the ship to subsequently continue in service as it may be required by the charterers,” the company said. Plans were made to allow 18 seafarers of mostly Indian nationality to disembark the vessel just before Chinese New Year.
The company concluded, “The priority now is to get them home. However, they will continue to be subject to applicable COVID-19 precautions as required by authorities in Japan and in their home countries.”