The Republic of Panama has been gaining recognition for its efforts to help facilitate crew movements, which became especially challenging during the current public health crisis. However, the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) is also garnering criticism for steps it has taken regarding crews working on ships in its registry.
Panama recently facilitated several crew changes and reparation efforts that generated visibility. For example, Panama permitted Carnival Cruise Line to transfer 91 crew across the Isthmus from one cruise ship to another as part of the cruise line’s reparation program. Panama also permitted on humanitarian grounds a crew change to take place for a crew that has been stranded in Panama on a Hong Kong-flagged tanker.
The Panama Maritime Authority highlights that Panama has been supporting crew changes including ship-to-ship, groups, and Isthmus transfers, as well as disembarkation of crew members for repatriations through charter flights. It says that it recognizes that seafarers are essential workers who have been invaluable during this global health crisis by not stopping the supply chain. Between March and early June, AMP estimated that it assisted more than 4,000 people with its humanitarian efforts.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) congratulated the Panama Maritime Authority for its efforts, saying in a letter from Secretary-General Kitack Lim, “I wish to commend Panama’s efforts to facilitate crew changes.” Lim went on to cite Panama and Liberia’s support as two of the largest flag states for the IMO’s framework for crew changes.
In a joint statement issued at the beginning of May, Panama and Liberia said they strongly supported that IMO circular on crew changes and travel. “Liberia and Panama support the careful facilitation of the world’s seafarers conducting safe crew changes. Both Panama and Libera call upon other flag states to join them in their support of these protocols and for adding their voice to this important call.”
The AMP also said to achieve the goal of facilitating crew changes, and with the endorsement of the Ministry of Health of Panama, it would be distributing instruction handbooks for the shipping lines and other involved parties, providing standardized forms as part of the process.
While these efforts have garnered recognition, the maritime union Nautilus International is now calling for all Panama flagged ships to be targeted for inspection by port state control authorities for potential breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention. Nautilus is citing a June notice from the Panama Ship Registry which it says advises that seafarers’ contracts can now be extended by a further three months and up to 17 months where crew change is not possible due to the outbreak of the Covid-19.
Calling this an “inhumane extension of seafarer contracts,” Nautilus said, ”PSC should immediately target all Panamanian ships and detain for breaches of the MLC! This is utterly shameful and inhumane,” according to Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson.
Nautilus, like most nautical organizations, has repeatedly warned that fatigued crews working for months after they were supposed to return home pose a threat to shipping safety and protection of the environment.
The involuntary extension of crew contracts, required because the shipping lines cannot complete crew changes, is one of the primary issues that organizations ranging from the IMO to the International Transport Workers’ Federation have singled out. Indeed’ the ITF in a statement it issued with the Joint Negotiating Group, along with the International Chamber of Shipping, on June 22 said that after contract extensions into May and now June that seafarers cannot be compelled to continue work and that once a ship is safely in harbor, they have the right not to extend.
Intercargo in a statement issued today estimated that 30 percent of all seafarers on cargo ships are still serving even after completing their contracts and that at least five percent of all seafarers have been on board for over 12 months in breach of the Maritime Labour Convention.
While Panama is supporting crew changes, it’s policies as a flag state appear to contradict the efforts underway in the shipping industry to broadly facilitate changes for crew members who have fulfilled their contracts and are overdue to be replaced so that they can travel home.
In June, a UK Royal Navy destroyer and Dutch Royal Navy ship safely moored in Odessa, Ukraine, were spoofed to locations off-shore of a Russian naval base on Crimea. One week later, it was a US Navy ship moored in the same port that was spoofed (above). These are interesting cases in several ways. First, how […]
A massive fire broke out at the Port of Beirut on Thursday, incinerating a warehouse full of tires and oil within the port’s free zone. The same area was heavily damaged in the ammonium nitrate explosion that leveled the central port area and the adjacent waterfront on August 4. According to Lebanon’s civil defense agency, […]
Over the course of the past five days, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority arranged a medical intervention for an injured aboard a freighter in the Indian Ocean. On Saturday evening, the Spliethoff tweendecker Dolfijngracht called for assistance while under way about 1,000 nauical miles off the coast of Western Australia. A crewmember had sustained serious […]
The UK government’s new post-Brexit tariff regime will result in both winners and losers. The new regime is set to replace the European Union’s Common External Tariff from the end of the Brexit Transition Period on December 31, 2020. The UK’s commitment to the ongoing Brexit process and ending the UK’s transition from EU membership […]
The First DP2, Twin-Hulled SOV in the World, NB72 Groene Wind met the Sea on September 29. 2020 in Yalova, Turkey. The Groene Wind will be directly chartered to Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy for the maintenance of the Rentel and Mermaid & Seastar (known as SeaMade) offshore wind farms in Belgium. This is the first DP2, […]
The U-Freight Group (UFL), with its considerable involvement in eCommerce logistics, says that the latest statistics showing that global e-commerce sales hit $25.6 trillion in 2018 are a further vindication of its decision to enter this sector of the international freight market several years ago. The latest available estimates, up 8% from 2017, were recently […]
DSV Belgium has solid experience in the transport of pharmaceutical products for different customers. With a pharma hub based at Brussels Airport a lot of experience and know-how has been built up over the years. Last weekend, the forwarder handled one hundred million mouth masks, an important milestone for its Belgian organisation that has put […]
With close to 100 daily cargo flights operated to a destination network spanning more than 65 cities across six continents, Emirates SkyCargo is delivering essential supplies and commodities to people around the world. The air cargo carrier is currently operating 11 Boeing 777 freighter aircraft, each with a capacity to transport about 100 tonnes of […]
Operators can continue to use pilots and other crew members who have unable to comply with certain training, recent experience, testing, and checking requirements due to the COVID-19 outbreak in support of essential operations. Additionally, this Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) provides regulatory relief to certain persons and pilot schools unable to meet duration and […]
The naval forces of the US and Bahrain recently staged a joint force training exercise which showcased the interoperability between coalition warships operating I the Arabian Gulf. Coalition Task Force Sentinel executed combined exercise Sentinel Shield supporting Sentry and Sentinel patrols in the coalition’s area of operations. The guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones and […]
Callan Marine is serving as the prime contractor to the Texas Department of Transportation for a maintenance dredging project located at the Bolivar Ferry Terminal, in Galveston, Texas. Work began in May and is estimated to be complete in late July 2020. The project consists of the removal of 600,000 cubic yards of material and […]
Astral Aviation has increased its intra-African network with cargo freighters during the pandemic. While there has been a reduction in capacity to, from, and within Africa, which has been caused by a stoppage of passenger flights and limited frequencies on freighter aircraft, Astral Aviation continues to operate cargo freighters from its Nairobi hub to 13 destinations […]
Best known as a leading passenger airport serving Germany’s most populated federal state North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf has become transformed into a vital distribution point, during the COVID 19 pandemic, for medical equipment and other life-saving goods, mostly from China. Gerton Hulsman, managing director of cargo operations, reports that the handling teams are working hard to […]
Emirates SkyCargo has expanded its weekly scheduled cargo flight operations to cover 75 destinations across six continents. Through its wider reach, Emirates SkyCargo is able to transport essential commodities and other urgently needed cargo more rapidly across the world, allowing exporters and importers across markets to benefit from direct access to widebody cargo capacity. Some […]
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a Marine Accident Brief about an accident that occurred on April 15, 2019, involving the towing vessel DeJeanne Maria which struck the end of a submerged dredge pipeline while pushing two spud barges to the Gulf of Mexico. The incident occurred on the Mississippi River in Pass […]
Global commercial aviation charter company Albion Aviation Group is reporting that it is seeing a considerable uptake in its professional cargo broker training courses from the current global pandemic crisis and surge in charter demand. “We have completed a number webinar courses for a whole of host of companies, looking to manage their own cargo […]