Ship Management International column - Read all about it!

Ship Management International column - Read all about it!

The past 12 months have proved to be very hard for seafarers around the world. The lack of crew changes in a pandemic made for a very miserable existence, which has been well reported. Despite some very complex operations being concluded, basic issues remain the same. If you simply fail to read what is before you, it can lead to significant losses. The following are some examples of what has happened.

An error, such as failing to see in a list of a crews’ COVID test results that one of the crew had tested positively can have significant consequences.

A ship was put into Manila anchorage enroute to discharge port for a crew change as there were Filipino crew on board. The crew change at Manila was organised by the ship manager, through an appointed port agent. All the prescribed COVID-19 protocols were followed.

Once back enroute the ship sent its port entry and free pratique documentation to the discharge port agent for arranging the inward clearance. The agent and authorities discovered in the documentation that a COVID-19 test result for one of the crew members, signed-on at Manila, was positive.

Evidently, one of the joining crew members had tested positive for COVID-19, but the COVID-19 positive test was overlooked and was not noticed by the ship manager, the port agent at Manila, the health and immigration authorities or the Master. It was only identified by the discharge port agent.

The ship had to return to Manila in order to test the entire crew and replace them as necessary. The ship also had to be disinfected before resuming the voyage. This resulted in about five additional days at sea plus six days at Manila.

The ship owners claimed about USD$ 350,000 losses from the managers. However, ultimately a settlement was negotiated, as many parties failed to spot the positive test – including the owners themselves.

Another example involved a tanker which had changed from hard copy sea charts to electronic sea charts. It was a Flag State requirement that the second officer had to have an ECDIS Certificate. The crew managers had looked at all the qualifications of the second officer they placed on the ship. Unfortunately the crew manager simply missed the fact that the second officer did not have an ECDIS certificate.

When the ship had a subsequent routine vetting inspection by one of the oil majors it revealed the mistake and the oil major informed the owner that the ship had been put on technical hold. A technical hold can only be lifted after a new oil major vetting, which can take up to six months. In the meantime the trading flexibility of the tanker had been reduced and the earnings had reduced significantly. The owners claimed the difference in earnings from the manager of USD$ 400,000.

Finally, before any of us were aware of coronavirus, a crew manager arranged for the vaccination certificates to be issued to the crew. The manager did not realise that some of these vaccination certificates had been slightly altered when the Medical Examiner had spelt the name of the crew member incorrectly. These slight amendments to the vaccination certificates led to a ship being detained for a considerable length of time, and a claim was then made by the owner against the manager for the delay.

The message is to ensure that your teams are given the time to properly read what is in front of them to ensure that these issues are avoided.

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