By Rajesh Divakaran, Head of Marine HR / MLC Officer
The Thome Group introduced a new protocol for crew changeovers when it became apparent that global travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic were seriously disrupting normal crew changeover procedures.
The new protocol was developed by Thome’s Marine HR department in conjunction with an in-house task force set up to deal with the dynamically changing situation.
The protocol covers up to date information about the virus and all the precautions that a crew needs to take when joining a vessel.
Information has been provided to the fleet on Thome’s mandatory quarantine requirements, including implementation and enforcement, which can vary slightly from country to country.
The protocol outlines the dos and don’ts while in quarantine and PCR testing requirements before and after the quarantine period has ended, including prior to joining the vessel.
Seafarers are given detailed instructions on how to behave when travelling to the vessel – dos and don’ts at airports for instance and during the flight. As well as communicating these protocols to its own staff, Thome Group has also issued instructions to port agents too on subjects such as crew transportation, hotel accommodation and COVID-19 testing. If COVID-19 arrangements vary in a specific country e.g. Singapore then a list of special instructions has been drafted to ensure compliance.
Crewing personnel have been issued with a checklist to make sure that nothing gets missed and an FAQ page is constantly updated to answer any stakeholder questions.
Procedures are also in place to deal with any crew member suspected of contracting the virus while onboard or if a crew member tests positive prior to joining a vessel.
Once onboard, crew will be required to wear PPE such as face masks, wash hands frequently and maintain social distancing where possible. Temperatures of all onboard personnel will be checked twice a day and anyone found to have symptoms will be told to self-isolate for 14 days along with anyone who has been in close contact with the infected person which is normally more than 15 minutes spent in the person’s company and less than 2 metres apart.
So, Thome has put a lot of work into ensuring that crew changeovers are as safe as possible and if everyone follows these procedures diligently then it will vastly reduce the risk of spreading the virus amongst crew members.