Mumbai Port Trust has emerged the top Indian port for crew change after the government permitted this activity to repatriate Indian sailors and also ease the staff-swap crisis facing the global shipping industry.
Between March 23 and June 15, about 4,562 Indian seafarers joined ships at Indian ports while 7,280 signed off from ships.
Mumbai Port Trust, one of the 12 owned by the Central government, helped 1,838 seafarers to join ships and another 3,541 to sign off from ships calling at the port, according to the Directorate General of Shipping. A large number of crew who disembarked at Mumbai Port were those stranded on luxury ships that suspended operations across the globe after the outbreak of the pandemic. They were repatriated to India on cruise ships.
Cochin Port Trust was the second favourite destination among ship owners and managers for crew change involving Indian seafarers with 941 signing on while another 1,105 disembarked from ships anchored at the outer anchorage of the port.
Ports run by Gujarat Maritime Board were the third big crew change destination with 521 sign-on and 673 sign-off.
Since May 19, chartered flights run by ship managers, ship owners and crewing companies helped 2,689 Indian seafarers to join ships at overseas locations while another 10,824 were brought back.
The Vande Bharat mission flights operated by Air India also helped 427 seafarers to return to India.
The pandemic and the resultant travel restrictions across the world and the lockdown in India had adversely impacted the maritime industry in terms of crew change and repatriation of seafarers.
Travel restrictions had also threatened the job prospects of Indian seafarers working on foreign flag ships due to their inability to join ships at foreign ports.
Describing this as a ‘Vande Bharat Mission for Seafarers’, the DG Shipping said that using Indian ports and chartered flights have resulted in the repatriation of 18,958 seafarers.
The problem of crew change was anticipated well in time by the DG Shipping and the Shipping Ministry and concerted efforts were made to minimise the adverse impact, the DG Shipping said.
“We were the first to design a detailed standard operating procedure to enable crew change of Indian seafarers at Indian ports and anchorages. It was also the only industry that was allowed to travel abroad for the purposes of crew change using chartered flights,” it added.
Source: The Hindu Business Line