Denmark Gives Approval for International Crew Changes

File image courtesy Clear Seas

Published Jul 21, 2020 5:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

After discussions with shipowners and labor unions, Denmark's government is implementing a new solution for seafarers to go ashore and return home to their families. 

Around the world, an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 mariners are stranded on ships and unable to return home to their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to government restrictions on disembarkation and international travel, these seafarers cannot travel, and their alternates cannot meet the ship to relieve them. 

It is also a problem on board the Danish shipping companies' ships, which have extended contracts for several thousand seafarers. Therefore, the Danish government has worked with the industry to come up with a safe solution so that there can be a change of crew.

Specifically, the new scheme ensures that seafarers who need it can obtain a visa to enter or leave Denmark under controlled conditions. This is done by applying Danish visa rules in a manner that solves the many practical challenges that COVID-19 has created. In return, the industry itself will take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of infection for seafarers and Danish society. The seafarers will be isolated in hotels. Special areas will also be set up for them at airports so that they do not come into contact with others. It will also be possible for foreign seafarers to be tested for COVID-19 in Denmark.

“While many Danes have used the corona crisis to be more with the family, a large number of Danish seafarers have had to do without family and friends for much longer than usual. It is already hard to be away from family for a long time. But it's extra hard when it's happening in the middle of a pandemic, and it ultimately risks compromising the working environment and safety at sea. That is why I believe that we, as one of the world's largest maritime nations, are committed to doing something about it. That is why I am glad that we have now, together with the industry, found a solution that ensures that seafarers can once again get solid ground under their feet, said Minister of Trade and Industry Simon Kollerup.

Denmark will be ready to receive the seafarers under the temporary scheme within two weeks' time.

"We are really happy that a solution has now been found. Many sailors have been away from their families and friends for far too long, and to that extent they have deserved to come home safely. We have had a really good dialogue with the government and the Minister of Trade and Industry on this issue. It is good that Denmark is taking steps to help solve this major problem for seafarers. We hope that there are other countries that take similar steps, ”says Claus Jensen, chairman of the Danish Metalworkers’ Union, which represents Danish seafarers.

At an international high-level meeting on crew change on July 9, Denmark and 12 other governments from the world's largest maritime nations agreed on a joint declaration calling for action to resolve the problems. Denmark's ministry of trade and industry said that further work is under way to ensure that as many countries as possible take active steps to promote the implementation of crew change in Europe and the rest of the world.