The Director of Maritime Safety and Standards at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency says that exceptional times need exceptional measures. Katy Ware, who is also the UK’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization says that the industry should be assured that the MCA will do all it can to help during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Survey and inspection activity of ships is currently suspended, however the MCA has put in place a number of measures to make sure that shipping of freight and other vital lifelines will continue. And it has offered guidance and advice to seafarers and shipowners at a time of uncertainty to help.
IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, has issued a statement and broadcast a video (see below) on COVID-19, stressing the essential need to maintain commerce by sea and protect seafarers’ welfare.
He said, “The spread of the coronavirus has placed the entire world in an unprecedented situation. To slow the spread of the disease and mitigate its impacts, travel is being curtailed and borders are being closed. Transport hubs are being affected. Ports are being closed and ships denied entry.”
Children on the remote atoll of Fakaofo in Tokelau will soon be travelling to school in style on a new school boat built in Christchurch with support from the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme. The Director of Maritime NZ Keith Manch said the boat will provide safe, reliable transport for around 50 children who must cross a lagoon to get to school each day.
The design and construction of the vessel, by ICON Custom Boats in Christchurch, was jointly funded by the Government of Tokelau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has published MIN 612, a marine information notice which sets out the policy of the MCA with respect to UK Vessels which are prevented from arranging the relevant surveys, inspections and audits required for compliance with the appropriate Statutory Instruments due to the current pandemic.
In MIN 612 the MCA sets out contingency plans to mitigate disruption to essential statutory activities during the current pandemic. The aim of the notice is to provide a basis for the continued operation of UK vessels during this time.