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Hot Port News from GAC

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Hot Port News from GAC


Panama Canal, Panama

Visakhapatnam, India

Deendayal/Kandla, India



United Kingdom



Ras Laffan, Qatar

Houston, United States


Offshore terminals, Cameroon

Transit of vessels with positive or suspected cases of COVID-19
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Panama Canal, Panama

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) informs that on March 29, 2020, the waterway facilitated the transit of Holland America’s passenger vessels MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam, despite there were suspected cases of COVID-19 among the passengers and crewmembers on board these vessels.

These transits were approved under extraordinary conditions and for humanitarian reasons. The ACP these exceptions and enforced extreme sanitary measures to safeguard the health of ACP employees and reduce to a minimum the number of Canal employees involved in the transit.

Notwithstanding the exceptions granted to these two vessels, shipping agents are reminded that vessels with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 are prohibited from transiting the Panama Canal and must comply with the required quarantine period. All transiting vessels must adhere to the following protocols established by the ACP in response to COVID-19:

All vessels are required to report the health conditions on board through the Panama Maritime Single Window System (VUMPA). In case of non-compliance and/or providing false information, the vessel will be subject to penalties and/or transit restrictions.

All vessels are required to report through VUMPA if and when crew changes took place at ports with confirmed COVID-19 cases within 14 days prior to arrival at Panama Canal waters.

All information reported through VUMPA will be verified prior to the vessel’s arrival.

Upon arrival at Panama Canal waters, a Panama Canal admeasurer will call the vessel via VHF radio to confirm whether there are any crewmembers or passengerson board showing virus-related symptoms.

The Panama Canal admeasurer will then embark and verify the Maritime Health Declaration information previously submitted and confirmed by the master through VUMPA.

The admeasurer, after embarking, will again verify with the vessel’s master or officer in charge that there are no passengers or crewmembers on board showing COVID-19 virus related symptoms.

Should there be any suspected cases of COVID-19 on board, and, due to the severity of the symptoms, it could be concluded that there is a contagious disease on board, the Maritime Health Unit of MINSA will be called to embark the vessel.

During this time, boarding and disembarking will be prohibited and the yellow quarantine flag will be flown, denoting that the ship is under quarantine.

The next steps will be determined following MINSA’s inspection.

MINSA also communicated to all shipping companies that they are required to report any crewmembers or passengers on board exhibiting illness-related symptoms, regardless of whether they are related to COVID-19 or not.
We urge all concerned to adhere to these protocols in order to prevent any further spread of the COVID-19 virus during this difficult period.

(For information about operations in the Panama Canal, contact GAC Panama at operations.panama@gac.com)

Source: Panama Canal Authority Advisory To Shipping No.A-12-2020 dated 1 April 2020

Force Majeure declared
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Visakhapatnam, India

The District Collector ordered shutdown of normal activities and the Central Government ordered a lockdown of 75 districts (including Visakhapatnam) from 22 March 2020, and the whole country from 24 March 2020.

In view of this extraordinary situation, it is impossible to carry our any normal operations at the Port of Visakhapatnam, in spite of GOI declaring port services as essential services.

Accordingly, it is hereby declared and confirmed that Force Majeure conditions prevail at the Port of Visakhapatnam from 22 March to 14 April 2020.

(For information about operations in the Panama Canal, contact GAC Panama at operations.panama@gac.com)

Source: Vizagapatnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry notice dated 31 March 2020

Adjustment of shift timings
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Deendayal/Kandla, India

Movement of vehicles has been restricted between 11:00 and 17:00 hours within the Muncipal limits of Gandhidham and Anjar Municipalities, primarily to ensure there is a bare minimum movement of vehicles in these limits and enforce the complete lockdown until 14 April…

…the decision taken to operate the functions of the port by three shifts is hereby reviewed and it has been decided to operate the functions of the port by two shifts only for operational staff posted at Kandla, as under:

First Shift: 0700 to 1900 hours

Second Shift: 1900 to 0700 hours

The system of two shifts shall come into force from 07:00 hours on 2 April and remain in force only during the lockdown period, i.e. until 14 April 2020 or until such time the lockdown is in force; and on completion of the lockdown period, existing system of three shifts(0700-1500, 1500-2300 & 2300-0700) shall come into force, without any further orders.

(For information about operations in India, contact GAC India at india@gac.com)

Source: Deendayal Port Trust Order No.KPC/5001/ dated 1 April 2020

Maritime advisory on novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
Thursday, April 2, 2020, India

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an Order directing the Ministries / Departments of Government of India, State/Union Territory Governments and State / Union Territory Authorities to take effective measures for ensuring social distancing so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The Order of MHA is to remain in force, in all parts of the country, for a period of 21 days with effect from 25 March 2020. In view of the lockdown of 21 days, the restrictions of provisional validity of annexes shall continue to be valid till further orders.

Further, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Govt. of India has issued following advisories, which are available in website https://www.mohfw.gov.in/
a. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for transporting a suspect / confirmed case of COVID- 19 dated 29.03.2020
b. Guidelines on disinfection of common public places including offices dated 29.03.2020
c. Video from experts from AIIMS, New Delhi sharing basic steps on hand washing to fight against COVID-19 dated 29.03.2020
d. D.O Letter from Home Secretary to all Secretaries of Government of India on movement of goods dated 29.03.2020
e. Minding our minds during the COVID-19 pandemic New dated 31.03.2020
5. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also has issued guidelines to help countries maintain essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic dated 30.03.2020 and is available at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

The number of persons required to board the vessel is required to be kept to the bare minimum… …Personnel who may be required to board the vessel such as ship agents, cargo personnel, custom and immigration authorities etc. shall always be aware of the pandemic and have appropriate PPE while on board the vessel. All concerned are required to strictly comply with instructions and ensure that the shore personnel do not enter the accommodation area of the vessel unless absolutely necessary. The master of the vessel is also required to exercise due diligence to ensure that personnel entering accommodation area of the vessel is kept to the bare minimum and also ensure that the shore personnel are not permitted to remain inside the accommodation area after their work is completed. If the work entails substantial waiting period, the shore personnel shall need to remain outside the accommodation area during the waiting period.

Indian nationals representing Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and experts required to the board the vessel for troubleshooting and repairs etc. may be permitted to board the vessel in Indian ports with appropriate PPE…

(For information about operations in India, contact GAC India at india@gac.com)

Source: Extract from Directorate General of Shipping, Mumbai, Addendum No.3 to DGS Order No.4 of 2020 dated 1 April 2020

Safety precautions
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Nigeria

Every vessel should give full details of arrival information to Nigerian Ports Authority.

All vessels should give full declarations of health and report any case of ailment or medical conditions onboard.

All vessels arriving Nigerian Ports Authority must be cleared by the Port Health Services.

Pilots and crew members are to maintain social distancing as one of the key points in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

All vessels should comply with all Ports Regulations.

(For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in Nigeria, contact GAC Nigeria at nigeria@gac.com)

Source: Nigerian Ports Authority, Lagos Pilotage District, Notice 04 of 2020 dated 31 March 2020

Ports remain open for business
Thursday, April 2, 2020, United Kingdom

Across ABP our teams are working exceptionally hard to ensure our Ports remain open for business during these challenging times. We have implemented safeguards to protect our staff, visitors, contractors and our customers’ representatives, ensuring that the latest UK Government protocols in terms of social distancing are observed. It may also be appropriate for additional inspections to be carried out at our Ports relating to health checks and we appreciate your support in ensuring that your staff, hauliers and contractors are aware of this, exercise patience and co-operate fully. The health and wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and their families remains ABP’s highest priority.

To help with our resource planning we would ask that you keep us up to date with any change to your operational requirements so that we can plan accordingly. At a number of our Ports there has been a significant downturn in throughput. Combined with requirements for our staff to self-isolate, this will lead to a review of our standard operating hours in some locations. We will continue endeavours to ensure uninterrupted support of your operations.

Last week the Minister for Aviation Maritime and Security, Kelly Tollhurst MP, issued an open letter of reassurance confirming the UK Government’s commitment to seafarer welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic and its continued facilitation of both seafarer transit and transfer to keep world trade moving. We continue to work closely with the Department for Transport and other central and local government departments to ensure continuity of services and alignment for forward planning.

As the UK’s leading port operator with a critical strategic role in supporting the nation’s supply chains, we will continue to provide updates on this dynamic situation in accordance with government advice.

(For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in the United Kingdom, contact GAC UK at uk@gac.com)

Source: Associated British Ports (ABP) Update Circulation No.4 dated 1 April 2020

Introduction of curfew
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Togo

As part of its measures to minimising the risk of COVID-19 spread, the Togolese government has decreed a daily curfew from 1900 to 0600 hours local time, for a period of three months starting from today (2 April).

This will probably have an impact on port activities, such as the movement of ships and the slowing down of discharging/loading operations.

(For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in Togo, contact the GAC Dubai Hub Agency Centre at hub.ae@gac.com)

Source: OMA Togo – GAC agent

Curfew in place
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Senegal

A curfew is in place from 2000 to 0600 hours local time every day until further notice. Cargo flights, medical evacuations and special authorised flights are permitted.

For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in Senegal, contact the GAC Dubai Hub Agency Centre at hub.ae@gac.com

Health screening of personnel
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Ras Laffan, Qatar

Qatar Petroleum has announced the protocol for screening of personnel to and from offshore workplaces from Ras Laffan Port, as part of the precautionary measures to limit the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The protocol is in effect from today (2 April) until further notice.

For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in Qatar, contact the GAC Qatar at qatar@gac.com

Screening for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (update)
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Houston, United States

Effective immediately, Masters of vessels wishing to enter the Houston-Galveston Captain-of-the-Port (COTP) zone and to whom the regulations contained in Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 160, Subpart C—Notification of Arrival, Hazardous Conditions, and Certain Dangerous Cargoes apply, shall submit a completed “Attestation of Hazardous Condition” prior to receiving clearance for entry into the Houston-Galveston COTP zone.

The specific attestation that must be completed by vessel Masters can be found on the Sector Houston-Galveston Homeport page at this link under the “Prevention/Foreign Vessel Boarding” tab. Prior to arriving in the COTP Houston-Galveston zone, the vessel’s Master shall ensure that the completed attestation is simultaneously submitted to all of the following email addresses: HoustonSCC@uscg.mil, HoustonTargeting@uscg.mil, houstonpsc@uscg.mil and inspectionsmsutexascity@uscg.mil. Until this attestation is received by COTP Houston-Galveston, your vessel will not be placed on our “Cleared to Enter” list.

As a reminder, the provisions outlined in 33 CFR 160.216 still apply to all vessels. Should conditions on board your vessel change at any time after submitting your attestation, including while your vessel is already in port (e.g. someone on board your vessel begins to display symptoms of any reportable illness, including COVID-19), you are reminded of your obligation to immediately contact the Sector Houston-Galveston Command Center to report this hazardous condition.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Inspections and Compliance Directorate has published a series of Marine Safety Information Bulletins (MSIBs) detailing key maritime issues associated with this pandemic, including but not limited to guidance on compliance with federal drug testing requirements, vessel inspections, exams, and documentation, and reporting requirements for illness or death. Mariners are urged to carefully review all of the Coast Guard’s COVID-19-related MSIBs to ensure their compliance with continuing pandemic response measures. These MSIBs may found at the following link under the “2020” tab at the USCG DCO website.

The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a “COVID-19 Guidance for Ships” which all maritime stakeholders are highly encouraged to read. This guidance includes measures a crew may take to help prevent illness transmission. A link to this important information may be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/maritime/.

For continuing updates on the pandemic, please visit the CDC’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus Situation Summary at: https://go.usa.gov/xdDsW

(For information operations in the United States, contact GAC North America at usa@gac.com)

Source: Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston Marine Safety Information Bulletin 15-20 Hazardous Condition Attestation dated 31 March 2020

Berthing & port restrictions during Covid-19 emergency
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Indonesia

Foreign-flagged cruise ships are not allowed to berth in all Indonesian Ports. Those that are given permission to disembark crew, bunkers, fresh water and provision supplies are allowed to carry out those activities at the anchorage area assigned as determined shelter according to validity of the Entry Permit. Once completed, the ship must leave the anchorage area and sail.

Crew changes in Indonesia are permitted for Indonesian crews (WNI) only after implemented the Health Protocol of Covid-19 Handling.

Foreign crews may not go ashore during ship’s activities in the port area.

Foreign crew changes are not allowed in Indonesian Ports, but during the outbreak of Covid-19 can be done at the specified anchorage area.

If a medical/health emergency occurs for foreign crews when the ship in the port area, they could be taken ashore once permission is granted by the Covid-19 Task Force in each area after implementing the Health Protocol of Covid-19 Handling.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, foreign vessels (cargo ships, passenger ships and cruise ships) that apply for permission to disembark crews, bunker, fresh water and provision supplies will be provided shelter for ship-to-ship (STS) and lay-up at the designated area, i.e. Nipah Island, Tanjung Balai Karimun and Galang Island by fulfilling the terms and requirements of arrival the foreign ship in accordance with laws and regulations.

For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in Indonesia, contact PT Andhika GAC at shipping.indonesia@gac.com

COVID-19 pandemic precautionary measures
Thursday, April 2, 2020, Offshore terminals, Cameroon

Terminal operators Perenco Cameroon have introduced the following measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during lifting operations at their offshore terminals (EBOME, Hilli-Episeyo and MASSONGO).

Strict reduction to a minimum of lifting team attending the terminals. Agents are no longer allowed at the terminal. Health authorities are now part of the lifting team for health inspection of vessels & crew members prior to granting of free pratique.

Lifting team may not board at Hilli-Episeyo Terminal.

The lifting team comprising of one (1) representative each of the following offices: Ministry of Mines, SGS, Customs will no longer board the lifting vessel via Hilli-Episeyo Terminal, but must now board the vessel at the anchorage via personnel or basket.

All tankers with a voyage period of less than 14 days from the date of departure from last port of call must provide the lifting team with Personal Protective Equipment. Each lifting team member must use his/her own pen to sign documents.
(For information about operations in Cameroon, contact the GAC Dubai Hub Agency Centre at hub.ae@gac.com)

Source: Afritramp, Douala – GAC agent

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