Recently, a ship named “China Dawn” diverted towards Kochi, India after the master of the ship put his foot down to ensure that 9 overworked staff including himself get relief from their duties and crew change can occur.
The master of the oil tanker cited mental exhaustion he and his crew faced due to the extra time spent at sea, because of the travel restrictions all around the world, thanks to the deadly coronavirus.
Other vessels are now following the suit
On May 13, similar news came into light onboard ‘PSU Seventh’, a Singapore flagged ore carrier, managed by Hong Kong-based Anglo-Eastern Univan Group.
As per The Hindu BL, six crew members have already completed more than 12 months while another six continue to work more than a month after their contract ended- pressed for a deviation to Cochin to sign off. The ship manager secured permission from the ship owner to divert the ship to Cochin “on humanitarian grounds” to disembark the crew, an exercise that entailed extra expenses and involved the interests of the ship charterer and insurers.
As per few pictures surfaced on Social Media, the agency handling the crew change quoted a humongous amount of USD 97,599 (74,17,584 INR) as Total Charges.
The overall cost to the owners account will further increase due to the loss of hire, bunker costs and insurance cost as the ship will be off-hired due to the said deviation of the vessel.
Options offered by the company to the overdue crew members
The photo of an email sent by the company to the vessel also surfaced on twitter. The content of the email is as follows,
“With shipping in recession, the deviation is an unavoidable loss to the owner. It shows owners in a positive light for agreeing to incur such expense on humanitarian ground. However, our concern is that it doesn’t reflect positively on us. So far, Indians are the only seafarers who seem to seek deviation,” Singh wrote in the mail.
The current owners have other ships with Chinese staff who are cheaper, but owners have opted for expensive Indian staff for sake of better quality and credibility. In owners view, this deviation may cause “irreparable damage” regarding reliability of Indian Seafarers and ship may eventually move to a cheaper (crew) nationality.
The damage to reputation may not matter to few of us, but there are thousands of young Indians who may get impacted in coming months/years for such available loss of job opportunity. It must be understood that world appreciates people who stand up and face the adversity. A soldier who leave the war midway to return home, is never really counted as a hero.
An option offered to the crew “They could continue on board till the discharge port in China.”
If return flights are available, relievers will be arranged for all crew at China. If crew change is not possible at China, then owners have agreed to deviate the vessel to any port/India, to arrange the crew change when vessel is in ballast (without cargo).
If staff agrees for above suggestion, then owners are willing to pay an additional bonus of $10,000 to the vessel for staff who have got extensively delayed (due) to the pandemic.
The advantage of this option is that most flights are opening up slowly and most likely all staff will reach home at same time as after quarantine at Kochi and will continue to earn till reaching home, he said.
Above is a courageous option of choosing a difficult path to keep global supply chain running, even when the easier part/ short cut was available, he added while urging the staff to take an “informed decision”.
As per The Hindu BL, most of the crew turned down the offer to continue on board the ship.
“Since there are many people who are not in a frame of mind to continue longer, it is best to deviate for arranging crew change at Kochi. Our only concern was that it should not happen that in spite of the expenses, crew change gets cancelled due to weather or closure of crew changes at Kochi,” Company wrote in another email to the ship’s Captain on May 14.
The ship is now expected in Cochin on May 29.