CF Sharp Crew Management, the Philippines-based crew specialist, recently looked after 1000 seafarers, who had returned from cruise vessels.
They are currently undertaking a period of 14 days isolation in Manila before they can be reunited with their families, while a further 899 seafarers were due to arrive by the first week of April from cruise ships.
“Seafarers are a key priority and we, along with our clients, are putting all our efforts into bringing them home and reuniting them with their loved ones at this difficult time,” said Managing Director, CF Sharp Crew Management, Singapore, Roger Storey.
He praised the company’s cruise lines clients for their support in assisting seafarers to get home. For example, Storey reported: “Norwegian Cruise Lines has arranged two sweeper flights, which, as long as they are not impeded by any ‘red tape’, were due to arrive in Manila on 1st April consisting of 445 seafarers and tomorrow with 454 seafarers. We have reserved places for them all to undertake their compulsory 14-day quarantine.”
Most commercial shipping has suspended crew changes for the immediate future and Storey said his firm is working with seafarers to enable them to obtain financial aid from the Philippine Government’s Support for Seafarers scheme, administered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
With the majority of airlines drastically reducing their flights and all embassies suspending operations until further notice, Storey said all shore employees’ efforts are currently focused on supporting the company’s at-risk crew to return home.
The vast majority of Sharp’s staff in the Philippines are now working from home. Meanwhile, the company’s offices in Manila are again being ‘deep cleaned’.
Strictly enforced restrictions in the Philippines require people to self-isolate and observe curfews. Residents need approval from their local Barangay (village/district office) in order to leave their place of residence and there are frequent check-points where travellers must justify the reason for their journey.
Proof of legitimate business travel must include company ID, as well as a covering letter explaining the reason for the travel.
Storey added: “Returning Filipino seafarers need to be made aware of the changes to normal life and business and of course the necessity of keeping safe and avoiding unnecessary risks of exposure to COVID-19. We are all working together to keep everyone safe.”