Off-signing is when a seafarer reaches the end of their contract of employment onboard a vessel and prepares for crew transfer and the road back home.
However, seafarers that are refused off-signing by a disembarkation country could stay onboard for many weeks, or months, depending on the vessel's schedule and disembarkation port.
In addition, there is a possibility that the crew could face an additional 14 days onboard to Singapore from China, or an additional 30 days onboard to Qatar after leaving China, for example.
It is highlighted that refusing the disembarkation of seafarers goes against the advice issued by the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA).
IMHA updated its advice on reducing the risk of infection from the new coronavirus on January 26 to include:
- Do not restrict embarkation /disembarkation of seafarers in non-affected ports;
- Do not restrict necessary ship visits by port agents, chaplains, service personnel and others;
- IMHA also recommended that ship operators store facial protection for all crew, with a minimum of five pieces per person.
For the latest developments on the coronavirus outbreak, see also: