More Marlow seafarer colleagues successfully repatriated back to the Philippines recently after the company set up a charter flight between Hamburg and Manila in cooperation with Business Travel Hamburg.
Meanwhile, replacement crew headed out and promptly embarked their vessels in various Northern European ports. In total 234 seafarers were transported, together with some crew from other companies.
“The company would once again like to express its thanks to all parties involved, particularly these essential workers at sea, our seafarers, as well as their families, for cooperating so professionally and for their dedication and patience throughout these challenging times. We fully appreciate their understanding and support under these extraordinarily difficult circumstances,” said Joint Managing Director, Marlow Navigation, Jan Meyering.
Marlow branch agencies Marcrew Schiffahrts GmbH in Germany and Marlow Navigation Phils., Inc. provided additional personal assistance to seafarers at both airports during the recent charter flight, as well as Covid-19 safety kits, food and refreshments.
“Our operation teams and all branch offices have been working tirelessly to monitor the situation and organise crew changes where possible. Many times, this would not be possible without also the support and cooperation of local authorities, embassies and immigration in the various locations,” added Meyering.
Ambassador H.E. Maria Theresa Dizon-de Vega and her team from the Philippines embassy in Germany provided additional diplomatic assistance and was also present at the airport to help ensure smooth transition.
“The Embassy is encouraged by the continued trust and confidence international companies like Marlow Navigation continue to place in our Filipino seafarers. We hope that our nationals can continue to contribute to the work of maritime companies and to the recovery of the maritime industry in general,” stated Ambassador Theresa De Vega.
Despite all the operational difficulties, Marlow is very pleased to report that it has managed to arrange movements for over 14,000 seafarers between mid-May and mid-August, mainly via a few key airports where it is still somewhat possible. These figures are almost at pre-pandemic numbers, albeit a good amount of crew are still overdue for repatriation, whilst many others awaiting for the opportunity to embark and head out to work.
“Every possible effort is being made to return overdue crew home and bring on their replacements. We always check the requirements and assess the feasibility of performing a crew change in every port, but of course many external factors continue to make this a very challenging exercise worldwide,” explained Crewing Director, Marlow Navigation, Captain Frank Brodersen.
Specific obstacles include restrictions/lockdowns, limited accommodation and significantly reduced flights that are also prone to last minute cancellations, as well as the overstretched capacity of Covid testing centres. Meanwhile, advance notice required by many countries make it logistically challenging. There has also been a lack of consistency in terms of the approval process, with constantly changing health, quarantine and immigration rules. Authorities around the world have been approving and rejecting crew changes without clearly providing reasons.
“No doubt, we all look forward to rapid improvement of the situation and return to some normality, and until then, we will continue to do our utmost to make the situation as best possible and safe for our seafarers,” added Brodersen.
The coronavirus pandemic-led lockdowns and strict travel restrictions has paralysed the global economy. Despite the unprecedented difficulties, the shipping industry overall has responded remarkably, working round-the-clock to keep the world fuelled, fed and supplied with vital goods. All of these basic human needs depend heavily on shipping and just like all the doctors and nurses, the world should pay tribute to all those in our industry who continue their important work during this time of international crisis, especially seafarers who are on the front-line and keep the ships moving and delivering supplies to people around the world.