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India's Seafarers Face New Challenges as Outbreak Grows at Home

indian ships
File image courtesy Indian Ministry of Shipping

Published Apr 28, 2021 8:24 PM by Ankur Kundu

Seafarers with recent travel history to India have been banned from undergoing crew change in Singapore. In a separate decision, the UAE's port of Fujairah has also banned crew change for ships arriving from India. 

Shipping agency GAC said, “Fujairah Immigration has verbally advised that, with immediate effect, if a vessel’s last port of call is India, the signing-off crew are not allowed to disembark at Fujairah. This applies for all nationals.”

As per GAC, Indonesia too followed suit and banned entry for all foreign nationals arriving in the country who have been in India for the last 14 days. South Korea has added India to its list of nations with high risk. For all personnel arriving at Korean ports, a negative COVID report is mandatory. 

India’s outbreak has also affected seafarer recruitment: Royal Caribbean has halted its hiring program for staff from India amidst rising COVID cases in the country, according to Crew Center. The outlet reports that around 300 Indian crew members were supposed to work onboard the company's Anthem of the Seas, with a joining date of May 3.

Speaking to Crew Center, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said, "It's always unfortunate when we must cancel assignments but we believe this is a prudent decision at this time."

India has recorded a week of daily increases in COVID infections, clocking in at over 350,000 new infections over 24 hours – a new world record. The country is a major supplier of seafarers to the global shipping industry, especially in the officer ranks. It provides around 10 percent of the global seafaring strength and ranks third in the list of countries that supply seafarers to the maritime industry.