Sri Lanka's geographical location makes it in the centre of one of the busiest global shipping lanes and is also one of the countries already appointed a ‘National Focal Point on Crew Changes and Repatriation of Seafarers’ as invited by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in its Resolution MSC.473(ES.2).
A passenger ship has been positioned off the Port of Galle as a transit hub, called the Offshore Crew Transit Hub, for seafarers to remain till connectivity is established with the joining ship or repatriation flight.
Seafarers are not permitted to arrive in commercial passenger flights but only in chartered flights to the Southern international airport of Mattala and will be directly transferred to the Offshore Crew Transit Hub in disinfected dedicated buses. Similarly, off signing seafarers remain in the transit hub and repatriate in chartered flights, mostly in the same flight that has brought their reliefs.
Seafarers arriving by chartered flights are required to have a negative PCR report of a test taken within 72 hours of boarding the flight and certified to have stayed in isolation from the time of the test.
Since seafarers are permitted to arrive in Sri Lanka only in chartered flights and not commercial passenger flights, other avenues have been probed, especially of countries close-by that allow seafarers to arrive by commercial passenger flights. Thereafter, a chartered flight would be arranged to Sri Lanka from these locations fulfilling the requirement of Sri Lanka about seafarers arriving in the country by chartered flights. Male, in the Republic of Maldives, and Dubai, of UAE, both allow seafarers to arrive by commercial passenger flights. Any seafarer from any part of the world, just has to get to these airports and then proceed to Sri Lanka in chartered flights arranged by the operator.
The whole process has been led by the government and Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS), a maritime security firm.
Speaking to ‘Sri Lanka Mirror’ a spokesperson of Avant Garde Maritime Services said that they are the only company that provides this streamlined service in the world.
(Excerpts : splash247.com)