Sri Lanka: offshore crew transit hub for bulk crew changes

UK Club’s correspondent in Sri Lanka, GAC Shipping Ltd, has noted the commencement on December 22nd 2020 of bulk crew changes of international seafarers through an Offshore Crew Transit Hub (OCTH) that is operated by a Public-Private-Partnership. The crew transit hub is a passenger vessel stationed in Sri Lankan territorial waters which provides a temporary stay for seafarers during bulk crew change operations.

UK Club advised Members that the crew changes taking place through the OCTH should only be on the basis of direct bulk crew changes facilitated via chartered flights from/to Mattala International Airport.

GAC noted that the PPP required a minimum of 96 hours for processing the request and making arrangements for a crew change.

Disembarking Crew:

A disembarking crew travels directly to the OCTH. Once the charter flights became available they would be transferred directly to the airport for repatriation. If required for a crew member’s repatriation, PCR tests would be conducted on board the OCTH.

If any seafarer tests positive for Covid-19, provision for treatment should be done in the designated intermediate care facility.

Embarking Crew:

On signers are sent to the OCTH from the airport and then embarked to the vessels as per their schedule.

PCR tests should be done for every on-signer within 72 hours prior to boarding the charter flight to Sri Lanka and should be made available to respective Port Health Officer prior to their landing in Sri Lanka.


Seafarers are directly transferred between the airport and the OCTH and are therefore exempted from PCR testing conducted at the Points of Entry (unless in any other conditions specified on the SOP).

Crew changes must be done under the supervision of Sri Lanka Navy, which will escort the crew transport vehicle.

Scheduled charter flights are available for seafarers between airports the of Male & Dubai and MRIA in Sri Lanka.

Foreign crew embarkation/ disembarkation via commercial flights is still not permitted in Sri Lanka.

Embarkation/Disembarkation for local seafarers is permitted. Sick crew disembarkation is subject to permission on a case-by-case basis.