“DOTr Conducts First Crew Change Operations At The Port of Capinpin in Bataan”
Strengthening its commitment to make the Philippines an international crew change hub, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), through its maritime sector, conducted the first crew change operations outside Metro Manila at Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan on 5, September 2020.
This, after all operational requirements for the location, such as the establishment of a One-Stop Shop (OSS), RT-PCR testing booths, quarantine facilities, anchorage, application and Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) procedures, and tugboats were finalized and approved.
According to Office for Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator and OSS Head, Undersecretary Raul Del Rosario, it took more than a month to establish the OSS in Port Capinpin.
“To be exact, 1 month and 1 week bago natin na-put up ang OSS dito sa Orion. Kinailangan kasi nating i-match ang mga protocols na ipapatupad natin sa One-Stop Shop doon sa mga protocols ng Bataan Provincial IATF. Ang role ng One-Stop Shop ay iipun-ipunin ang concerned agencies sa crew change protocol. Kasama na d'yan ang mga agencies under the DOTr— Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), OTS, MARINA, at 'yung ibang agencies na ka-partner natin gaya ng Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Quarantine, Bureau of Immigration, OWWA at PNP, at ang LGU na talagang nagbabantay para sa prevention ng COVID,” Usec Del Rosario said.
Port Capinpin, a port being operated and managed by the PPA, was activated as a crew change hub on August 19.
The activation of crew change hubs was directed by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to help address the global need for fresh crew of ships, and to ensure the health, safety, welfare and employment of seafarers as they can only serve on board a vessel without leave up to 11 months based on International Labour Organization (ILO) 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). This will primarily benefit seafarers, who are stranded onboard ships with expired contracts due to imposed travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
Strict protocols and procedures were set by the OSS to ensure the smooth implementation of crew change operations. Prior to embarkation, seafarers are required to undergo RT-PCR testing 72 hours before boarding. After getting a negative result, they will be subjected to physical examination by the BOQ, as well as Customs and Immigration procedures. Upon obtaining clearance, they will be sent to the vessel where they will receive handover of duties from off signees. On the other hand, off signing seafarers are required to undergo CIQ procedures onboard vessel. Once fully cleared by authorities, they will be sent to the port for disembarkation, debriefing, RT-PCR testing and quarantine.
To further help seafarers, PPA General Manager Jay Santiago said that the PPA is currently constructing a 100-bed quarantine facility at Port Capinpin, which may be used by seafarers waiting for the result of their COVID-19 test.