Coronavirus Advice for seafarers and ship owners

The MCA have issued advice to seafarers and ship owners, what is of interest to us is MCA Commercial coding:- 

Survey and Certification of UK Flagged Vessels
Where surveys are due on vessels located overseas and it becomes difficult for
attendance by a surveyor either MCA or RO, the MCA will consider the extension of
mandatory statutory survey windows by issuance of short-term certificates, on a case
by case basis. Operators are advised to make requests to their Customer Service
Managers in good time before the expiry date to avoid Port State Control issues.

 

Full text 

CORONAVIRUS (Covid-19) Contingency Plan and Guidelines for the services
provided to Seafarers and Shipowners by the MCA.
The department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE)
are leading the UK government response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
You can get up-to-date information about the situation in the UK on:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
MCA’s response and advice to Industry on services provided are as detailed below:
Joining and Repatriation of seafarers from vessels.
The areas affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the strategy implementation by
countries affected by it is constantly evolving.
Many Governments have now introduced national and local restrictions including:
• Delayed port clearance;
• Prevention of crew or passengers from embarking or disembarking (preventing shore
leave and crew changes);
• Prevention of discharging or loading cargo or stores, or taking on fuel, water, food
and supplies; and
• Imposition of quarantine or refusal of port entry to ships (in extreme cases).
Countries have resorted to screening of passengers at airports and various ports have
implemented pre-boarding screenings, including mandatory health check
questionnaire accompanied with a thermal scan test. The Master should contact the
local port authority to enquire if crew repatriation is available.
Safe Manning Document (SMD) and exemptions to SMD
The SMD will be issued in a digital format. Where it can be demonstrated that a crew
member is required to depart a vessel due to the virus and the ship owner/operator is
unable to replace them, exemptions to SMD will be considered on a case by case
basis. Each request should be supported by risk assessment from the company.
Issue or Revalidation of a UK Certificate of Competency where a seafarer is unable to
disembark a vessel
Any seafarer who has completed the requirements for the issue of UK CoC but is
unable to post their application to the MCA should send a scanned application form to
the MCA. Providing the supporting evidence meets the requirements, the seafarer will
be issued with a Temporary CoC valid for a period of 6 months. Email addresses can
be found here.
A similar approach will be taken for a seafarer whose CoC expires whilst they are on
board. The required documentary evidence should be submitted to the MCA by email
where we will issue a digital temporary certificate valid for a period of 6 months. Email
revalidation@mcga.gov.uk using form MSF 4201.
Issue of Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC) where a seafarer is unable to
disembark a vessel
CRAs can be issued in digital format from an application that is emailed to the MCA
(cec@mcga.gov.uk). If a Master’s temporary CEC expires whilst serving on board,
then provided that the CoC is valid, another temporary CEC valid for a period of six
months will be issued.
Seafarers with UK Certificates of Competency (CoC) working on UK flagged vessels,
who are unable to disembark a vessel
For a UK CoC holder, the MCA can provide an exemption for those officers who are
on board a vessel and their safety training has expired. This will be based on a selfdeclaration (as per the STCW 2010 Manilla amendments requirements). A similar
approach will be followed if a seafarer’s CoC expires whilst on board. The CoC will be
extended for a period of 6 months. Ship owners/operators should email
exams@mcga.gov.uk to request this exemption or for CoC extension requests.
Seafarers with UK CoC working on Non-UK flagged vessels
For a UK CoC holder, the MCA can provide an exemption for those officers who are
on board a vessel and their safety training has expired. This will be based on a selfdeclaration (as per the STCW 2010 Manilla amendments requirements). Ship
owners/operators should email exams@mcga.gov.uk to request this exemption.
Seafarers with UK Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC) working on UK flagged
vessels
The expiry date of a CEC is the same as the expiry date of a seafarers original CoC.
If required, the MCA will liaise with the parent administration regarding requests for an
extension of a CoC for a seafarer holding a CEC on a UK registered vessels. The MCA
will issue CECs against any extension to CoCs (temporary or full). Ship
owners/operators should email cec@mcga.gov.uk to request this exemption.
Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC)
Seafarers who are onboard vessel beyond their contracts for reasons connected with
the Covid-19 virus.
The company should ensure that seafarers are kept informed of the risks of infection,
reasons why they are required to stay on board, any measures being taken for their
protection, and arrangements for their repatriation.
A valid Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) must remain in force until
repatriation. If any of the SEAs have expired, they must be extended, or new ones
issued. The company need to ensure that the seafarers are sent home at the first
available opportunity. Evidence should be retained by both the seafarer and the
company clearly demonstrating the reason why the seafarer was asked to extend their
contract.
Shipowner liability
If in doubt, shipping companies should contact their financial security provider to
confirm that insurance or other financial security is in place for additional costs pending
repatriation (e.g. isolation), medical care, and any costs and expense of crew transfer
for suspected cases.
Under MLC provisions relating to repatriation and medical care, shipowners remain
liable for costs pending repatriation (e.g. isolation), medical care, and any costs or
expense of crew transfer for suspected cases.
Sea-time Matters
Sea time on any vessel which is fully crewed and operational, although not working
cargo will be accepted at full rate towards the issue or revalidation of a UK CoC.
Crew who are directly involved in the operation of the vessel that is in warm lay-up will
have their service accepted at full rate towards a UK CoC (issue or revalidation).
In the case of cadets who are not able to join vessels due to travel restrictions,
alternative sea time for up to 1 month would be accepted by MCA – proposals should
be emailed to exams@mcga.gov.uk
• For Deck cadets, up-to 1 month of sea time will be accepted on domestic
vessels e.g. Domestic passenger ferries in categorised waters which are over
500 GT.
• For engineering cadets, workshop training or simulator training for 1 month
would be accepted in lieu of 1-month sea-service.
The Seafarer Training and Certification Branch will issue Notices of Eligibility (NOE)
to candidates who are up to one month short of the required sea time (if a seafarer is
over this allowance, we look at it on a case by case basis). Seafarers can take oral
exams once they have a NOE, however the full CoC will not be issued until the full sea
service requirement has been met.
Medical fitness certificates
The Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Medical Certification)
Regulations 2010 permit a seafarer whose medical fitness certificate expires during a
voyage in a location where it is not possible to obtain a medical fitness certificate
accepted for working on a UK ship to continue working for up to three months. If in
exceptional circumstances this period is likely to be exceeded, the shipowner should
contact the MCA on seafarer.sh@mcga.gov.uk for advice.
Survey and Certification of UK Flagged Vessels
Where surveys are due on vessels located overseas and it becomes difficult for
attendance by a surveyor either MCA or RO, the MCA will consider the extension of
mandatory statutory survey windows by issuance of short-term certificates, on a case
by case basis. Operators are advised to make requests to their Customer Service
Managers in good time before the expiry date to avoid Port State Control issues.
Additional information relevant to the Maritime industry can also be found at these
websites (Please note: the list is not exhaustive):
International Maritime Health Association
World Health Organisation
International Maritime Organisation
International Chamber of Shipping

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