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.
Shipping is vital to the world supply chain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that all personnel involved are protected from infection, including those onboard ships and shore personnel who may need to temporarily go on ships or interact with seafarers.
IMO has circulated World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on the safe and effective use of personal protective equipment (PPE), to support decisions on use of PPE to minimize the risks of COVID-19 infection for seafarers, marine personnel, fishing vessel personnel, passengers and others on board ships.
This guidance also applies to shore personnel intending to go on board (such as pilots, port workers, port State control officers, ships’ agents and so forth); and when any of these people interact with each other.
The PPE guidance is available here per CL.No.4204/Add.15: Coronavirus (COVID 19) - Personal protective equipment http://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/HotTopics/Documents/COVID%20CL%204204%20adds/Circular%20Letter%20No.4204-Add.15%20-%20Coronavirus%20(Covid%2019)%20-%20Personal%20Protective%20Equipment.pdf
To support decision making and risk assessment, IMO has also circulated practical measures to address COVID-19 risks for all people involved on ships and in ports when they may need to interact with each other, available here per CL.No.4204/Add.16: Coronavirus (COVID 19) – COVID-19 related guidelines for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship and shore-based personnel
Recognizing that there are differences in national requirements, the guidelines propose a straightforward system to evaluate the risks and communicate the control measures that will be put in place, by mutual agreement, to reduce infection risk. They also propose simple steps and precautions to take if attendance onboard a ship is unavoidable. These include minimising the number of persons attending; using outer walkways rather than access through the crew accommodation; frequently cleaning hands and maintaining social distancing.
The COVID-19 related guidelines for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship- and shore- based personnel were proposed by a broad cross section of global industry associations in consultative status with IMO: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IACS, IFSMA, IMPA, INTERTANKO, P&I Clubs, CLIA, INTERCARGO, InterManager, IPTA, FONASBA, and WSC.
Account was also taken of input from the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) and the International Support Vessel Owners’ Association (ISOA).
On 7 April the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) reported that multipurpose coastguard support via a remotely piloted surveillance system (RPAS) services had been provided at the request of the Romanian Border Police.
(See illustrations here from EMSA / Romanian authorities ©)
The RPAS system will support a number of authorities in Black Sea waters including the Romanian Naval Authority and National Agency for Fishing and Aquaculture.
It is understood that the mid-sized RPAS craft can stay in the air for up to seven hours and has a range of up to 200km. It is equipped with a camera capable of day and night operations, a sea surface scanner, a distress beacon detector and a sensor that can detect vessel positions. It can be used for a range of activities, including border control, monitoring naval traffic, search and rescue, and environmental protection. Data from the RPAS can be recorded and transferred to the EMSA RPAS data centre in real time, and then made immediately available to national authorities.
It is noted from the latest European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Newsletter issued at the beginning of April that on 26 March, EMSA hosted an online workshop on shore-side electricity for port authorities and administrations.
EMSA reported that the event saw nearly 300 experts from different sectors of Europe and around the globe whose work is related to the development, certification and operation of shore-side electricity projects in ports.
The initial aim of the workshop was to gather feedback from stakeholders on the continuing guidance project on shore-side electricity, by encouraging an exchange of ideas and reaction to draft documents under consultation.
However, the scope was extended as registration exceeded expectations. This allowed for presentations to be given on other initiatives in the field currently being worked on. A contribution from the IMO and several interventions from international standardisation experts were of particular relevance to the work EMSA is currently conducting in this area for port authorities and administrations.