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International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) intervenes for exhausted captain’s sign-off


The UK Border force granted exemption for the captain and shipmaster to return to the UK

Singapore-based Thome Ship Management reached out to the ITF for a crew change intervention involving an exhausted captain onboard a tanker. He is said to have been onboard for more than two months after his contract expiry.

Successful crew change after ITF’s intercession
Marshall Islands’ flagged crude oil tanker, Pacific Sky was due at the Essar Oil facility in Tranmere, England on 12 March 2021, and scheduled to depart for Canada two days after. India was then on the UK’s Red List of countries – thus requiring the relief captain to undergo isolation in a hotel in the UK, after seven days’ isolation in Mumbai. He entered the UK on 7 March 2021, which was not in time to complete the mandated 10-day UK isolation to facilitate releasing the exhausted master.

Following an intervention by ITF inspector Tommy Molloy, the UK Border Force confirmed on 12 March 2021: “The current operational stance is that seafarers who have been in a Red List country during the last 10 days are not exempted from Managed Quarantine Services (MQS). However, they can leave the managed accommodation before the end of the 10-day self-isolation period to travel directly to leave the common travel area (CTA).”

The Indian relief captain was released from isolation early and taken directly to Pacific Sky. The captain onboard disembarked after two negative COVID-19 tests and made his way home. The UK Border Force confirmed the exception before broader exemptions from managed isolation for seafarers were introduced in England, Wales and Ireland on 19 March 2021.

Recently, the USCG Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance issued the guidance on the MSIB 04-21 “COVID-19 Crew Change Issues”. It noted how travel restrictions around the world have created a humanitarian crisis, leaving thousands of seafarers stranded onboard ships beyond contract durations.



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