In light of the ongoing crew change crisis, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company is calling for an urgent crew change solution for the bulk carrier “ANASTASIA”, which is stuck off the coast of northern China.
Namely, MSC has repeatedly requested during the ship’s voyage that the seafarers onboard should be relieved to return home to their families.
However, these proposals have not yet been implemented by the chartering parties which determine the ship’s movements.
In fact, the company announced that:
China has prohibited a crew change at Chinese ports due to COVID-19 restrictions and MSC’s mid-December requests for a crew change at anchorage or in Japan, a few days sailing away, have not been carried out.
What is more, the company is very concerned for the well-being of these sailors, while is in regular contact with them, and with their families ashore, as well as supplying a clinical psychologist for remote support.
As explained, many of the crew have been at sea for several months longer than was initially anticipated. After local authorities blocked MSC’s attempt to send a doctor to visit the ship in person, the company is currently seeking to remedy this through diplomatic channels.
MSC’s daily attempts to seek a solution follow several months of proposals to allow the vessel to make a port call that would facilitate crew relief.
To remind, the company first attempted to change the crew of the ANASTASIA in Hong Kong in June 2020.
Although, a subsequent attempt in early August to change crew in Hong Kong was prohibited due to local authorities’ COVID restrictions. Japanese authorities later in August approved the vessel to berth at Mitusure Island in Japan, but the request was not implemented.
MSC is deeply concerned that none of these solutions have worked so far. MSC, as the technical operator of the ship, cannot simply order the master to deviate to a port for a crew change, as the vessel could be arrested as a result. This would only perpetuate the problem and may result in the crew remaining onboard for even longer than necessary.
Concluding, MSC has brought the matter to the attention of the UN International Maritime Organization, and other international governmental and industry bodies.