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Crew changes in COVID-19: Thanks to our marine crews!

As borders began to close around the world, we were all faced with uncertainty in both our personal and professional lives. Talking openly with our marine crews, they made one thing clear: they would do whatever was necessary to keep projects going safely. Now, one year later, we’ve been able to keep crew moving and changing throughout. Here are just some of the ways people have gone above and beyond to keep the propellor turning.

Crossing Europe to reach vessels

Europe’s green lane for international transport workers was established quickly – but until then there were a lot of uncertainties. Flights were cancelled, there were long queues at borders, and some of our marine crew needed additional permits to travel. We set up an internal database with what countries and airports were open, how to get people across borders, and the documentation they would need. We updated our vessels daily so that they could continue to handle bookings and kept an open line of communication with marine crews.

“Through all of this, our European marine crew used their creativity and endless patience to find ways to cross borders,” explains Crewing Manager Corinne Hobson. “We had people finding new flights, hopping on ferries and driving all across Europe – sometimes giving other crewmates a lift! Everyone went above and beyond to keep crew changes on track.”

"Everyone went above and beyond to keep crew changes on track."

Navigating lockdown in Manila

“Our marine crew from the Philippines faced even bigger obstacles,” Corinne adds. “Manila had effectively shut down and there were no flights available for a long time. We worked actively with the crew and gained their approval to stay on board, in some cases months over their original contracts. In addition to the lack of flights, the quarantine facilities in Manila were not processing people efficiently and the facilities were not to our standards. We also wanted to guarantee their onward travel from Manila, and make sure they got all the way home safely.”

We began to utilise open charter flights whenever available to do crew changes from Europe which meant we couldn’t guarantee seat numbers until last minute. And our marine crew on board Brave Tern had set sail for Taiwan at the beginning of April 2020. With crucial ports locked down, flights unavailable and embassies closed, the marine crew agreed to stay on board until we could arrange a crew change in September. Throughout this time, they showed enormous patience, goodwill and faith that we would get them home.

Crew changes in the "new normal"

Today, the situation in Europe has more or less stabilised. Manila requires more time for processing, COVID testing and paperwork. But both have opened green lanes that our marine crews can use, and we have been able to establish a routine for crew change operations while continuing to stay on top of regulations, ensure compliance and adapt ourselves.

“Collaboration was key,” says Corinne. “We worked closely with our marine crews, management and clients to make sure everyone was satisfied with what we worked out. We are very fortunate that we were able to keep up crew changes. This is thanks to the great communication we have with our marine crews, their flexibility and their resiliency.”

Read about Captain Torben Vinkel.

Read about Third Officer Sarah Bloomer.