The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has issued new guidance to support the shipping industry in its essential role of ensuring essential goods and commodities, such as energy, food and medical supplies, can be carried to the world during the coronavirus pandemic.
The guidance, available on the ICS website, provides information for shipowners and operators on managing ship and seafarer certificates required by international regulations. It also highlights the unique compliance issues and considerations relating to maintaining the validity of ship and seafarer certificates.
Under normal circumstances maintaining valid ship and seafarer certificates and keeping them in order requires careful planning by shipowners and operators, but it has now become markedly more complicated and difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping said, “This guidance provides pragmatic advice for our seafarers in response to the unique problems created by the coronavirus pandemic, but it is essential that governments address the main issue of crew transfer and operational integrity as a matter of urgency. Our seafarers and the maritime community are the lifeblood of the global economy, we need to do all we can to maintain both crew and ship safety, while ensuring that food, fuel and goods, including vital medical supplies, continue to flow.”
Certificates are important for continuing ship operations because they serve as evidence of compliance with the relevant international standards, and they are regularly verified during various types of surveys, audits and inspections. In normal times the expiration of ship and seafarer certificates can result in a ship being given a deficiency or even detained and unable to continue operating.
Platten concluded, “We are grateful for the pragmatic approach being shown by flag States and classification societies at this difficult time. We all want to ensure safe operations for the benefit of all.”