Effective from 16 April, the Indian Ocean MoU has revised its earlier COVID-19 guidelines with respect to relaxation period mentioned in various scenarios, noting that exemptions / dispensations granted by the flag state administration or R.O.s should be accepted by the port State authorities.
The revision came as the COVID-19 has taken an unprecedented pandemic situation, which is unlikely “to improve substantially, in near future”, and as the IOMOU realized that there is a vital need for maritime administrations to grant a reasonable period of exemption / extension / relaxation beyond three months for the STCW, MLC/ILO related certificates and other statutory certificates relevant to IMO conventions.
As such, the member Authorities of the Indian Ocean MOU have decided to revise the earlier guidelines with respect to relaxation period mentioned in various scenarios, which is now to be read as follows:
This pragmatic relaxation / exemptions / dispensations granted by the flag state administration / R.O for an appropriate grace period beyond the relaxation periods permitted under various conventions for surveys, inspections and audits of ships and for certificates / documents of seafarers required as per MLC and STCW conventions specific to situations arising due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic should be accepted by the port State authorities. Any vessel beyond this grace period should be treated in the normal manner.
Similar to the previous guidance, this comes in line with a circular by the IMO along with the World Health Organization (WHO) on 21 February 2020, in the form of a “Joint Statement“, on the response to the outbreak of “COVID19 Pandemic”.
In the stated IMO circular letter, all the member States are requested to take appropriate pragmatic flexible measures within the scope of the relevant IMO instruments for the purpose of smooth sailing, protection of the ships crews’ certification, health certificates, statutory survey and other mandatory certification including Audit certificates, dry dock, annual surveys, etc.