Odfjell has made steady progress in addressing the crew change challenges, but we continue to meet obstacles. Apart from frequently changing port restrictions, one of the challenges with successful crew changes is seafarers testing positive with Covid-19 right before embarkation. To solve this, Odfjell takes part in the new quarantine arrangement organized by the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association (NSA) and coordinated by its subsidiary, the Norwegian Training Center (NTC).
System addressing crew change crisis
The quarantine arrangement is an initiative of NSA through NTC, aiming to address challenges in crew changes, particularly on-signers testing positive right before embarkation despite being cleared prior to leaving Manila. Designed by medical experts from both Norway and the Philippines, the program is expected to lower seafarers’ risk of contracting the virus to an absolute minimum.
The program consists of a ten-day quarantine at Marriott Hotel in Pasay City, Manila, some 500 meters away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. The facility was formally opened on October 1.
Odfjell has committed to the initiative and has pre-booked 200 room nights. Two floors will be occupied by Odfjell and seven other Norwegian companies.
"It is essential to fellow seafarers’ safety and for the international authorities to ease up for crew change around the world. We need systems like this to help seafarers outbound and inbound, and to safely provide the ships with healthy crew"
NTC Managing Director Atty. Erlend Grimstad
Within the ten-day quarantine period, two Covid-19 tests are administered: the first on day three and the second two days prior to departure. Atty. Grimstad shares that the ten-day isolation and double test are designed by medical experts to lower the risk of contracting the virus to an absolute minimum.
During the stay, seafarers are confined to their own rooms, but get to enjoy the hotel’s premium amenities. While in quarantine, they have access to various NTC training courses to remain productive during the stay at the facility.
The first Odfjell seafarers have checked in and are well underway in the quarantine.
“This is ok for our safety. It is a quality hotel, the hotel personnel are easily contacted if we have concerns, and there are daily temperature checks. I highly recommend this hotel for quarantine stay.”
Pumpman Ermingaudio Madrona Jr, onsigner for Bow Chain
His fellow Bow Chain joiner Able Seaman Joseph Steve Perez appreciates having scheduled activities:
“The courses and workshops gave structure to our days and helped with fighting off the boredom.”
Ordinary Seaman Gildred Zoie Loon, who is heading out to Bow Excellence, shares:
"This place is very comfortable, and knowing that the company has placed us in a five-star hotel is really a morale booster."
Admission into the center is coordinated between the vessel handler and a dedicated NTC helpdesk.
“We are sure that this facility will reduce the risk of having Covid-19 cases on board which certainly is the prime goal. We also know that this facility is better than most alternative arrangements when it comes to safety, comfort and security”
Interim VP Maritime Personnel Svend Foyn-Bruun
Port state privileges
At the end of the program, both the seafarer and the company are issued a certificate from NTC documenting the entire process, including the test results. The certificate will be presented to port authorities worldwide during the seafarer’s embarkation.
"The aim is to, by introducing this certificate, get the port authorities around the world to ease the restrictions currently imposed on crew change. It is good for the seafarers’ health, and it will enable seafarers to get home and sign on more easily. Together we can bring positive change for seafarers in these unprecedented times of challenges," said Atty. Grimstad.
“We look forward to having this effort place a ‘clean branding’ to joining crew from the Philippines, and to having the certificate recognized by major ports worldwide. Hopefully, the initiative will pave the way for a sort of green lane for NSA-quarantined crew in the near future”
Agnes Enesio, Odfjell’s VP – Head of Crewing