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.
Port State control (PSC) regimes have expressed their willingness to be part of the solution to the urgent issue of crew changes and repatriation of seafarers. This is a key outcome of the second virtual meeting of all PSC regimes (17 June), organised by IMO in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to address issues surrounding surveys and certificates renewals during the pandemic. This was reported in a media briefing from IMO on 18 June.
Even though crew changes and repatriation are not directly under the realm of Port State Control authorities, they can still play an important role, as they are in charge of carrying out inspections onboard ships to monitor and enforce compliance with international regulations.
For example, safety issues resulting from crew fatigue may be examined by Port State Control, especially when extensions of seafarers’ contracts violate the maximum stipulated in ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). PSC regimes can also help IMO’s Seafarer Crisis Action Team resolve individual cases by providing valuable information about specific situations
Opening the meeting, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim praised the collaboration and cooperation demonstrated by PSC regimes, since the beginning of the crisis.
PSC regimes shared their appreciation of the release by IMO of Guidance regarding surveys and renewals of certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed in cooperation with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) (CL.No.4204/Add.19,) They also welcomed the dissemination by IMO of the Singapore Crew Change Guidebook (CL.No.4204/Add.22 ).
The second video meeting for the Port State Control (PSC) regimes during the COVID-19 pandemic was attended by ILO and IACS, as well as representatives from all ten PSC regimes.
Readers wishing to study a full summary of the meeting are invited to see here:
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the World Health Organization’s decision to name seafarers as one of the groups of transportation workers that should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination in instances of limited supplies. This was reported on 22 July.
Updated guidance for Stage II of its vaccine roadmap from the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) states: ‘Seafarers and air crews who work on vessels that carry goods and no passengers, with special attention to seafarers who are stranded at sea and prevented from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions.’
IMO Secretary General Lim commented: ‘I am glad to see that the WHO recognises the importance of vaccinating seafarers on cargo ships.
‘These individuals are responsible for transporting over 80% of all goods around the world, including food, medicine and vaccine supplies – and have continued to do so despite extremely challenging circumstances. Seafarers will play a key role in the global recovery, and barriers to international travel and crew change must be removed.’
On 28 September 2019, a cargo tank containing styrene monomer on board the Cayman Islands registered chemical tanker Stolt Groenland ruptured causing an explosion and fire. The tanker was moored alongside a general cargo berth in Ulsan, Republic of Korea and the Singapore registered chemical tanker Bow Dalian was moored outboard. Ignition of the styrene monomer vapour resulted in a fireball, which reached the road bridge above. Both vessels were damaged, and two crew suffered minor injuries. Fifteen emergency responders were injured during the fire-fighting, which lasted for over six hours.
Rupture of the styrene monomer tank resulted from a runaway polymerisation that was initiated by elevated temperatures caused by heat transfer from other chemical cargoes. Elevated temperatures caused the inhibitor, added to prevent the chemical’s polymerisation during the voyage, to deplete more rapidly than expected. Although the styrene monomer had not been stowed directly adjacent to heated cargo, the potential for heat transfer through intermediate tanks was not fully appreciated or assessed.