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.
On 13 March the Fairplay Towage Group announced that it had been awarded the licence to operate harbour tugs in the port Las Palmas / Gran Canary and extended its operational area now into Spanish waters for the first time.
Walter Collet MD and spokesman of Fairplay Towage Group: ‘We are confident, that this expansion into Spanish waters will be appreciated by our international clients. The preparation and the necessary documentation of our application under Spanish rules was quite challenging. The conditions to be met are considerably higher compared to other jurisdictions in Europe, however our Fairplay Team and legal consultants handled all aspects of the licensing process very focused and professional.’
Collet added: ‘Our tugs all named after landmarks on the Canary Islands already performed the first assistances in the Port of Las Palmas. The fleet currently consists of four modern tugs under Spanish flag manned by Spanish sailors under a local Spanish contract. This setup allows us to offer to our clients an attractive and competitive package for harbour towage and for the first time clients have a choice in the Port of Las Palmas.
‘Currently the licence Conditions for the surrounding waters at Lanzarote, Tenerife and Fuerteventura are under review. Once the conditions have been published Fairplay Towage Group will comply with such conditions in order to work in the entire Canary Islands region. At the same time we are of course monitoring the developments on the Spanish mainland.’
The Fairplay Towage Group activities are handled by the Spanish outfit Odiel Towage SLU. The office located in Las Palmas is also coordinating the local harbour towage operations.
The Fairplay Towage Group operates a fleet of more than 100 tugs and ranks among the leading European tugowners. It is headquartered in Germany with branches in Poland, Belgium, Netherlands and Bulgaria. After the successful takeover of the German Bugsier Group in 2017 Fairplay Towage Group is also a leading O & G Service Provider in the North Sea and the Baltic. The Group also operates several Oil Recovery vessels and the Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV) in Germany and the Netherlands as part of the European Coastal Protection Scheme.
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).