The Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) announced it is allowing crew changes to resume across all ports and anchorage areas in the region after crew changes in the major global shipping hub had been paused due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions and border closures imposed by governments around the world have caused significant hurdles to crew changes and left hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded onboard ships or unable to join ships. It is currently estimated that at least 200,000 seafarers worldwide are stranded on ships and require immediate repatriation and a similar number urgently need to join ships to replace them.
Last week, the UAE was among a handful of countries that committed to action to help resolve the crew change crisis and enable hundreds of thousands of stranded seafarers to go home or join ships.
DMCA says it is permitting crew changes to resume provided that the COVID-19 guidelines and requirements set by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) are properly observed and complied with. As per the DMCA’s new resolution, all agents are required to coordinate with the DMCA and other UAE authorities to ensure the quick processing of crew transfers from ships to airports and vice versa. Agents are urged to undergo the required medical examinations in compliance with the preventive procedures and guidelines for the COVID-19 virus to preserve the health and safety of both ship crew and relevant personnel.
Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, DMCA Executive Director, reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to providing the necessary facilities to ships and their crew to ensure continuity of operations within the global maritime supply chain.
Eng. Mohammad Al Bastaki, Director – Marine Anchorage Operations Department, said, “We will set clear and strict guidelines to govern the change in marine crew members, in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of the Dubai Health Authority and the emirate’s COVID-19 precautionary measures. For our part, we will continue to work closely with our strategic partners in ports and airports and other relevant government entities to ensure that the procedures are carried out smoothly, efficiently and securely while protecting and maintaining public health and safety.”
DMCA earlier issued a resolution directing the resumption of maritime operations across Dubai’s anchorage areas, which is aimed at enabling ships located in the emirate’s territorial waters to have access to a diverse range of services, including maintenance and repair, subject to obtaining the proper permits from the DMCA and other relevant authorities.