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Denmark alters visa rules to assist crew changes

BIMCO has welcomed the Danish government’s moves to let seafarers change crews. Seafarers can apply for a visa to enter or travel through Denmark to sign on or off work there or in neighbouring countries

The move is expected to see about 500 seafarers a week changed

BIMCO has welcomed the Danish government’s action on crew changes, saying new rules for safely repatriating seafarers could inspire other countries to act on the crisis.

The Danish government has agreed to apply visa rules in a way that allows seafarers to get a visa to enter or travel through the country so they can sign on or off duty locally or in neighbouring countries.

The move came after Dubai started allowing crew changes and following an international summit on the crisis.

“Hopefully, this will serve as an inspiration for other countries,” said BIMCO secretary-general David Loosley. “We need all states to urgently implement the IMO crew change protocols, and we need states to work together — the ‘islands’ must be connected, so to speak.”

Danish Shipping chairman Jacob Meldgaard told Lloyd's List the model would allow about 500 crew changes a week.

Crew could use Denmark as a hub to travel to Bremerhaven, Rotterdam or other places their ships called.

“The nationalities of the seafarers will be vastly different, but we expect to charter flights to bring in seafarers from Manila to Mumbai,” he said.

Mr Meldgaard, chief executive of product tanker operator Torm, said the Danish model should be able to be used elsewhere.

“It's about having a good collaboration with the authorities,” he said. “Denmark is not usually a hub for crew changes but I'm happy and proud that we as a leading shipping nation are showing the way for crew changes.”

The plan was worked out between the government, industry group Danish Shipping, the Danish Metalworkers’ Union and the Danish Engineers’ Association.

Danish Shipping said special departments would be set up in airports so seafarers do not encounter others and it would be possible for foreign seafarers to be tested for coronavirus in Denmark.

Shipping companies must ensure seafarers are isolated in hotels as part of the conditions.

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