Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Successful seafarer repatriation procedures have been highlighted as part of an in-depth webinar run by the Embassy of Indonesia in London on 26 August. The event, which gathered representatives from governments and international organizations, provided a platform for countries to learn from effective measures and to discuss ways forward.
It included a presentation on Indonesia's experience in dealing with the issue, which has led to the repatriation of over 25,000 seafarers involving 38 countries and international waters. Methods of return (evacuation and repatriation), the resources used, whether by government, ship owner or agent, were all presented. The challenges, with regard to key stakeholders – ship owner, port States, regional government and flag States were also addressed.
The webinar also featured the UK’s approach to resolving cases surrounding global cruise line vessels. For example, port State control action was used to drive action by flag State, company and P&I clubs to protect seafarer welfare after vessel detainment.
Additionally, the perspective of the International Transport Workers' Federation raised the plight of many seafarers – including lack of shore leave, contract expiry, and general worsening living and working conditions, while also praising areas of progress and cases of good cooperation.
Speaking at the event, IMO Legal & External Relations Director and Chair of the Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT), Frederick Kenney accordingly described the crew change crisis as an ‘all hands on deck evolution’ in which international cooperation represented the only way forward. Kenney highlighted the work of the SCAT, which works to help resolve individual cases of seafarers in need on the front line as well as dealing with larger policy issues.
Readers are invited to watch the full webinar of 1:46:20 duration here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNB0m-THd40
Unlike an emergency situation on land, when a ship faces a crisis at sea, Masters cannot simply dial the emergency services for instant assistance. They take responsibility for dealing with the situation, acting decisively to protect lives and prevent or minimise damage to the ship, environment and cargo.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) have worked in partnership to provide the industry with a practical guide
Peril at Sea and Salvage: A Guide for Masters outlines the actions a Master should take when confronted with an emergency: from the initial assessment and immediate actions, through to towage or salvage arrangements, as may be necessary. It also explains the importance of prompt notification to relevant parties with onshore support, particularly coastal States and the company.
A section is included with recommendations for a company’s shore-based personnel.
Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping commented: ‘Over the years we have seen a reduction in shipping emergencies and major incidents due to the development of regulations governing the safe operation and management of ships. Crews are regularly trained in emergency response preparedness and the industry has adopted a compliance culture.
According to a media briefing from IMO the key project to support the reduction of GHG emissions from shipping in developing countries through regional maritime technology cooperation centres has been extended to June 2021.
Known as the Global MTCC Network (GMN) Project this implemented by IMO and funded by the European Union.
There is a global network of Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs). These undertake pilot projects and promote technologies and operations to improve energy efficiency in the maritime sector, it is reported.
Since their establishment three years ago, the MTCCs in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific have established strong regional networks and are becoming important regional players, with technical expertise in the field of maritime energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions knowledge.
These Centres have undertaken a range of pilot projects, completed port energy audits and established branch offices in three countries. IMO report that more than 50 capacity building activities have brought together a total 2,400 delegates from various parts of the maritime sector.