Amid the uncertainty suffered by thousands of seafarers concerning their return home after months aboard the vessels, seven members of the Rhine Maersk were repatriated to their home countries from Panamá.
This crew change was made possible by the close collaboration between Maersk and the Maritime Authority of Panama, where strict safety protocols were followed ensuring everyone’s safety throughout the entire process. The seven crew members were transported from the Panama Canal to their fight which took them to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. From there, they will take connecting flights in their home countries. At the same time, 6 new colleagues arrived by air, to sign on Rhine Maersk and continue on her journey.
“Our colleagues at sea play a central role in serving our customers and keeping supply chains moving. I am pleased to see that our efforts in engaging with the authorities in regard to crew changes is paying off. Our sincere thanks go out to the Panamanian authorities and the colleagues/staff involved in Maersk Panama and Americas Liner Operation Cluster (LOC) in achieving this key milestone.” indicated Pavan Chhabra, Head of Americas Marine of Maersk.
Maersk echoed the World Maritime Organization’s call for governments to establish procedures which will enable for thousands of seafarers to return to their families since many have been aboard vessels longer than their contractual agreements. The situation as it stands is not tenable. World nations and especially port states must stand up and take responsibility to support and cooperate so that crew changes happen, preventing a humanitarian world crisis with potential consequences for safety at sea.
This is the second repatriation of a crew that was successfully carried out from Panama. The first one took place last Sunday, July 12 on San Pasley vessel, where thirteen crew members managed to repatriate thanks to a humanitarian flight.
Lars O. Nielsen, Maersk CEO Latin America added, “It is key for Maersk to ensure the health of our crew members enabling us to service the needs of our customers. Our seafaring colleagues around the world have, despite the crisis, continued to do an exceptional job aboard our ships for many months and I am very pleased to see we are now able to arrange the first crew changes. We need everyone involved to stay focused and engaged in ensuring this practice can continue as the safety of our colleagues is and will always be our main priority “.
Sea News, July 17