Govt allows foreign seafarers to sign on at Indian ports


 The standard operating procedure for sign on of Indian seafarers issued in April will be applicable to sign on of foreign seafarers

The government has allowed the foreign crew to embark on ships at India ports following through its July decision to let foreign seafarers sign off at the country’s ports.

The decision to allow sign-on of foreign crew at Indian ports follows representations received from organisations such as the International Maritime Organisation, International Labour Organisation, International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Chamber of Shipping to facilitate crew change at ports and airports to maintain uninterrupted supply chain and to avoid a humanitarian crisis at sea, director general of shipping, Amitabh Kumar said in a circular issued on Saturday.

The standard operating procedure (SOP)/protocol for sign-on of Indian seafarers issued in April will be applicable to sign on of foreign seafarers also, Kumar said.

The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the ship to shore interactions, including crew changes, which has become a grave humanitarian issue for seafarers, threatening the safety of navigation and world trade.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stranded onboard ships, having seen their contracts extended beyond the maximum duration of service periods accepted under international treaties - less than 12 months - and a similar number of seafarers are waiting to join ships, according to the IMO, the United Nations agency tasked with regulating shipping.

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