Crew Changes & COVID-19 in Guyana
Measures introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have brought widespread disruption to normal crew change operations, with many seafarers prevented from disembarking or joining their vessels.
GAC Guyana Managing Director Gobind Kukreja presents his team’s guide to the current status of crew changes in the country including: where they may be conducted; what restrictions are in place; what requirements must be met; and how many changes GAC Guyana has handled to date.
What challenges and restrictions do shipowners/operators face when arranging crew changes in Guyana, and how have your local contacts helped to ease the situation?
Both seaports and airports in Guyana are closed. No crew changes or shore leave are permitted.
How many crew change operations have you successfully executed since COVID-19 lockdowns started?
Despite the prohibition of crew changes during the COVID-19 crisis, we had special permission to conduct one such operation (details below).
Are there any specific crew change examples you wish to highlight?
Our client obtained permission from field operations to transport 13 off-signers from offshore Guyana. Our initial assignment was to meet and transport the personnel from the airport to hotel, but when they arrived they were not allowed to leave the country at the scheduled time, as the required clearance from the Covid-19 Task Force (Ministry of health) had not been received.
We contacted the Ministry of Health to seek guidance on the necessary process for this new requirement, as well as the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority to seek permission for a chartered flight, and gained approval from both. The 13 off-signers were then able to leave Guyana.
There is great uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic; how long it will last, and what its impact will be. How are you managing this from a crew change and lay-ups perspective? What are your expectations for the coming months?
Resources are limited as local authorities and Ministries are working on a shift system. Not much can be done for crew changes until airports re-open (there are currently no direct flights to Guyana).
Guyana has a 6 Phase re-opening plan, with the last phase covering international flights tentatively expected at the end of August.