This operations aims to help decongest Manila port of ships waiting their turn to let off crewmen with expired contracts and take in fresh ones.

The operation was completed in a matter of hours, with five Filipino crewmen disembarking from MV Dapeng Star, an LNG tanker.

According to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, this was the first batch of crewmen to arrive after Subic was designated as a hub for international crew change.

As she explained, a tugboat met up with the Dapeng Star, carrying personnel from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Coast Guard, who conducted an initial health check-up of the inbound seafarers and had them suited up in personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to disembarkation.

Subic was designated as a crew-change hub in July, and was formally opened on August 22 as part of the so-called “Philippine Green Lane”. According to local media, this aims to enable the safe travel of seafarers and speed up crew change during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippines had previously opened crew-change hubs in the Port of Manila and the Port of Capinpin in Orion, Bataan.

Howver, Subic operations only involve point-to-point embarkation and disembarkation pending local community approval of the second phase, where inbound seafarers could quarantine in local hotels after their COVID-19 test.

The crew-change protocols were strictly observed and that a “no-contact” policy was applied, to ensure the safety of the crew and the attending personnel.