CARRYING OUT CREW CHANGES OF INTERNATIONAL SEAFARERS IN AND OFF SRI LANKAN PORTS DURING COVID19 PANDEMIC
Sri Lanka’s economy was badly affected with the outbreak of Covid-19. Tourism and other sources which brought foreign revenue to the country dropped significantly. AGMS, being a company earning invaluable foreign exchange to the country decided to support revive crew changes of international seafarers through Sri Lanka that which was suspended due to the pandemic. The operation by Avant Garde is with the approval of authorities through Isolation Centers ashore and giving prominence to health protocols to avoid spreading of the Covid within the country.
The operation commenced on 09th of June 2020 by acquiring and establishing two hotels in Colombo and Galle. However, Isolation Centers were closed down on 20 July 2020 with the government decision to halt the entry of foreigners to the country through any ports. During this period the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) carried out 1661 crew changes (611 sign on and 1050 sign off).
Even then, the operation had to be suspended periodically due to sudden surge of infections internationally.
In order to prevent any spread of infection through seafarers and to ensure continuation of crew changes, AGMS decided to charter a vessel and resumed the crew change operation off the port of Galle through the vessel classified as an Offshore Crew Transit Hub (OCTH) minimizing contact with land and preventing spread of virus to the society. Chartering of flights from India, Maldives, Philippine and Qatar was introduced to provide value added service by utilizing Mattala (HRI) Airport for the arrival and departure of seafarers. The crew changes through OCTH continued for about four (04) months until the government allowed operation of shore based Isolation centers once again. During the interim period 2964 crew changes were carried out through the OCTB (1449 sign on and 1515 sign off).
PPP recommenced the land base Isolation centers by acquiring star class hotels within Colombo, Galle, Hikkaduwa, Weligama and Beruwela on 29th March 2021 and continuing to date. During this period to date PPP have carried out 28,220 crew changes (sign on 9716 and 18,504 sign off). Chartered flights were continued from 23rd December 2020 to 11th Nov 2021 completing over 150 flight schedules.
AGMS thus has done over 38,000 crew changes which includes 13,689 on sign and 24,311 off sign operations. We are still in process of continuing the crew change operation in Sri Lanka.
The operation is managed by a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) monitored by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Ministry of Health (MoH).
The PPP is between a Government Owned Business Undertaking (GOBU) of Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Ltd (RALL), which is directly under the Ministry of Defence, and Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS).