The first bulk crew changes after the lockdown were carried out at the Hambantota International Port (HIP), keeping to best practices and strict health and safety standards.
A charter flight from Russia, carrying crew for the tanker ‘SCF SAYAN’ berthed at HIP, arrived at Mattala Airport recently, and transfers were made directly from the airport to the port. The crew sign-on, which was closely monitored by the Sri Lanka Navy, follows a successful embarkation of service engineers from Denmark who signed on during the previous week to carry out repairs on the vessel.
Apart from the navy supervision, health clearance for crews is subject to the approval of all relevant authorities including the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, Department of Immigration and Emigration, Customs, SLPA, and the Airports and Aviation Authority.
HIP’s proximity to the Mattala airport helped in easing the process since the air, sea connectivity has made the transitions smooth and almost seamless. Twenty-one crew members signed on to the tanker ‘SCF SAYAN’ while seventeen off-signers who disembarked the tanker were transported back to the Mattala Airport to board the return flight to Russia.
COVID-19 Negative results of PCR tests done on all sign-on crews conducted 72 hours prior to their boarding the charter, were made available to the health offices at the port, prior to the flight’s landing at the Mattala airport. Since the crews had tested negative and were being directly transferred from airport to vessels and vice versa, no PCR tests were deemed necessary at entry, and the necessary approval was granted by the Director, Quarantine, Ministry of Health.
Ship agents Acrus Shipping (Pvt) Ltd., who coordinated the crew change, maintained the highest standards, following strict sanitary guidelines, according to government regulations. All port and ship agent personnel dealing with the crews, including drivers handling the transfers, were properly garbed in protective gear with compulsory cleansing and social distancing observed.
Steps were taken to ensure that the crews had minimal contact with Sri Lankan staff throughout the entire operation.