The lack of tugs has affected the crew change at the Cochin Port Trust’s outer anchor and forced ship managers to request a 24-hour crew change on ships.
The Cochin Port Trust’s outer anchorage has become a favorite for ship owners and managers to divert cargo-laden ships from their normal Route so that the crew can work beyond their original contract and replace them with a new Crew to overcome a Coronavirus-induced crew Change crisis that has rocked the global shipping industry.
Ships are diverted to Cochin as the Port Trust does not charge for crew changes at its outer anchorage. “It’s a give and take,” said a senior employee of a ship management company.
“We are ready to comply with all the rules, but they allow us to change crews for 24 hours as only three tugs are managed by the Cochin Port Trust and it has become difficult to manage them with all three tugs,” he said.
Tugs are of crucial importance for the crew change at the outer anchorage. The tugs are hired by the ship’s officers to transport those who join the ship and to bring back those who have closed the session.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), established by the Cochin Port Trust Immigration Department, allow a change of occupation only during the day. The crew change may only be carried out with Port tugs or tugs registered in the trusted Port.
The Cochin Port Trust operates three tugs, but only two are available for a crew change.
“The limitation is that the Port Trust must perform its own movement. First, they will use the tugs for their own loading and unloading operations, and then they will only release the tugs for a crew change, ” the executive said.
The Cochin Port Trust saw an increase in demand for tugs after the crew was able to change at anchor, which attracted many boat owners and managers to carry out this exercise.
The Cochin Port Trust charges $ 785 per hour to drop a tug. With GST, the Rate reaches around 900 US dollars per hour. It usually takes about five hours for a tug to get to a boat and back.
Since a crew change is not allowed overnight and only two tugs are available for work, ships have to wait up to 48 hours to complete the task before setting sail. The waiting period has a financial impact on the boat owner.
Cochin has become a preferred destination for crew changes on the outer anchor, as there are no fees. While other ports charge fees and ship owners also need permission from the customs department to take out the ship. At the outer anchorage of Cochin, ships do not need a port permit to set sail, if it is only a change of crew.
Sop crew change
However, the SOP established by the Cochin Immigration Department stipulates that the ship cannot set sail until the signed crew is given permission to be brought ashore.
“If you don’t find something with the Crew, take action against them. But why should the boat have to wait ten hours at the outer Dock after the crew change is complete? “Asked the Executive.
If a ship loaded with cargo deviates from its normal course to stop at a place for a crew change, it is considered not chartered. The detour to Cochin takes one day. If the boat has to wait 1.5 days at anchor after the change of crew, it loses rent / rental income for 2.5 days, which means a lot of money.
“In order to avoid the idling of ships and the resulting loss of revenue, ships could also go to another port, pay port fees, change crews, and set sail,” he said.
Changing the crew at the outer anchorage of the port of Cochin is a ” blessing “on the contrary, but with all this, it becomes a” burden”, he said.
“As soon as the signatories leave the ship or Land, the ship should be able to depart,” he said, adding that the crew change should also be allowed overnight in Cochin, as this is common in other ports and in the Immigration Department. They must have uniform authorization rules.
This Problem affects about 100 sailors and six ships. If no solution is found, the ship owners/managers will stop the crew change at Cochin’s outer anchorage, he said.
Sources in the shipping industry said it was an opportunity for the Cochin Port Trust to hire more tugs from abroad to speed up the change of crews so that more Indian seamen could disembark from the ships after a long time at sea and help them ashore to join the ships on their next deployment.