In its recent publication of Sea Venture (issue 32), Steamship Mutual has put together a useful and comprehensive set of Frequently Asked Questions on Covid-19. They include:
- Does the present COVID-19 pandemic of itself prejudice Club cover?
The short answer is “no”. However, Clubs do require that the entered vessel is, and remains, classed and this could be problematic where certification is about to expire and renewal is likely to be delayed due to COVID-19.
A number of flag states have already recognized the demand to apply a reasonable and pragmatic approach, including agreeing to extend the period of validity for ships’ certification. Classification societies have similarly agreed to extend the validity of certification where it is not possible to complete the necessary surveys. Initially, the permitted allowable extension is, in general, three months. In case ships are still unable to complete the necessary surveys and audits within this period, discussions are underway to see if and how certificates can be extended further whilst ensuring safety standards are maintained.
- Crew. Due to inability to rotate, crew have to remain on board – contracts, certification, “overlap” wages.
Steamship said that this was an issue it was seeing with increased frequency, with more ports refusing to allow crew changes, and in other cases where crew on board were simply unable to leave or new crew to join due to COVID-19 related border or airline restrictions. A number of issues could arise, including:
- expiry of seafarer’s contract,
- expiry of Seafarer certificates and medical certificates,
- expiry of P&I Club enhanced PEMEs, and
- “overlap” wages.
Steamship addresses all of these in its FAQ.
Other crew topics covered include:
If a crew member has to go through a period of isolation ashore before joining/ after disembarkation.
- Crew are tested prior to joining, or whilst on board the vessel.
- Crew member showing symptoms is isolated on board the vessel.
- Crew member showing symptoms is removed from the vessel and isolated ashore.
- Crew member showing symptoms is repatriated.
- Crew member falls ill whilst on board the vessel.
- Crew member falls ill after disembarking (or prior to joining) the vessel.
- Vessel diverts to obtain medical treatment ashore for infected crew member.
- The 120/240 day limits in the Philippines.
Questions covered include:
- Passenger falls ill whilst on board.
- Cruise is curtailed due to an outbreak on board – infected passengers.
- Cruise is curtailed due to an outbreak on board – non-infected passengers.
Quarantine (Rule 25 xii):
Questions answered include:
- What are the pre-conditions for cover under this Rules?.
- What constitutes “quarantine” and “extraordinary” expenses?
- The Vessel is subjected to a period of quarantine before berthing, or whilst at berth is ordered into quarantine or away from berth due to an outbreak, or suspected outbreak on board.
- The vessel is subjected to a period of quarantine before berthing, or whilst at berth is ordered into quarantine or away from berth, without there being any outbreak or suspected outbreak on board.
- Vessel is refused permission to berth until a period (usually 14 days) lying off the berth has been completed (but there is no “quarantine order” as such).
Cargo Issues (Rule 25 xiii)
Questions answered include:
- The port named in the contract of carriage is closed – as a consequence, the cargo is delivered at some other place: will usual P&I cover for cargo liabilities be prejudiced?
- As a consequence of the above, the bill of lading does not arrive at the “new” place of delivery in time to be presented to take delivery: does this present any issues as to cover?
- Additional costs are incurred in transporting the cargo to the “new” place of delivery: are any of these costs recoverable from the Club?
- Perishable cargo is damaged due to delays at the discharge port: will normal P&I cover for such loss or damage be available in the usual way?
For Members with FD&D cover, assistance will be available in relation to COVID-19 related charter party or contractual disputes in the same way as any other disputes.