Second container vessel approaching Vizhinjam for crew change

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on July 22, 2020 Published on July 22, 2020

The Vizhinjam minor port here is scheduled to host its second crew change event today (Wednesday) when Singapore-flagged container vessel Ever Gifted steams in following the successful first-ever crew change conducted in six hours by another vessel. MV Ever Globe had called in a week ago to enable off-signers (seafarers signing off from duty) to disembark and on-signers (those replacing them to join duty) to get on board.

Ever Gifted is the second vessel managed by Synergy Maritime to arrive here for crew change. Its first experience had emboldened the management to bring more vessels for crew change at Vizhinjam, sources in the maritime sector said. Vizhinjam’s advantages are minimal requirement of deviation for vessels calling in as well as the short period of operation. “The first time it did with MV Ever Globe, and the vessel was cleared in six hours, which is compellingin itself,” the sources said.

Worst scenario on board

On a note of apprehension, they noted that the shipping industry is facing one of the worst times with regard to the mandatory crew changes since most of the countries have closed their airports normally used by disembarking seafarers for their journey home. “The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that the frustration and uncertainty over sign-off at the next port of call is leading to suicides on board.”

This has, in turn, given rise to a serious situation on board ships far out in the deep seas. The mental health of seafarers is a safety issue since they all are handling critical operations on board. “It is in this context that Vizhinjam as a port for crew change offers light at the end of the tunnel for seafarers, both Indian and foreign, who consider it a life-saving gesture,” the source said.

Vizhinjam’s gesture welcomed

“The Mariners Forum Trivandrum would like to appreciate and thank both Vizhinjam port and Synergy Maritime and all others involved in facilitating this humanitarian gesture,” said Captain AM Riyas, General Secretary, Mariners Forum Trivandrum, a forum for marine officers in Thiruvananthapuram.

Sources on board vessels sailing off Vizhinjam said that they encountered moderate sea/swell (wave heights of 8-13 ft) conditions last evening (Tuesday). These were expected to become slight sea/swell (wave heights of up to 8 ft ) this (Thursday) morning. Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had said in a warning that the entire Kerala coast (Vizhinjam is located to its southern-most fringes) could witness significant wave activity due to enhanced monsoon flows today.

Super tanker next in line

Port sources said that a super tanker would be the next to call at Vizhinjam for crew change on July 28. The name of the tanker is Front Tiger, which has a gross tonnage of 65,358 and deadweight of 1,15,024 tonnes.

In a first such instance, the crew change is expected to be carried out by helicopter, which would depart from the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to the deck of Front Tiger. This would help the ship management get around the issue, if at all, of swell waves near the port, the sources added.

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Published on July 22, 2020
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