The chief officer of a Portugal registered containership whose contract has expired, contacted the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) asking for help, after his request for repatriation was refused by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
Chief officer M Simchenko, who is onboard Olivia, says he is exhausted and has requested medical assistance. He has not been repatriated despite the MPA Singapore announcing that crew changes were possible.
Olivia's management company says that, despite completing an application for crew change, it was refused with the message: 'MPA reject the crew change due to heightened risk of imported Covid19 case.'
However, on its website the MPA says it has been 'facilitating crew change under various circumstances', including when a crew member has 'served his/her maximum time on board and no further extension of the employment contract is granted by the flag State'.
Nautilus ITF inspector Tommy Molloy called out the Singapore government for its hypocrisy in 'telling the world they are open to crew change but on the other hand refusing genuine crew change requests'.
'This is not, as some would erroneously claim, akin to taking strike action. If he has no current contract of employment, he is not currently an employee and therefore cannot strike. His contract has already expired. As per agreement Mr Simchenko will be entitled to basic pay until repatriated.' Nautilus ITF inspector Tommy Molloy
Mr Molloy said his advice to Simchenko is the same as to all: 'Seafarers who are fatigued and exhausted present a danger to the safety of the vessel, the rest of the crew and themselves. They can no longer continue to work and should remain in their cabin, mess and recreation areas and on safe areas of the deck for fresh air.
'This is not, as some would erroneously claim, akin to taking strike action. If he has no current contract of employment, he is not currently an employee and therefore cannot strike. His contract has already expired. As per agreement Mr Simchenko will be entitled to basic pay until repatriated.'
Nicolas Lambrinides of Cassiopeia Shipmanagement Ltd in Cyprus, crew managers of the Olivia on behalf of TB Marine, wrote to Mr Molloy about the case on Tuesday 12 August 2020, asking for his help in getting Singapore to reverse its crew change decision.
Mr Lambrinides said Cassiopeia made all necessary arrangements for chief officer Simchenko's repatriation. His replacement is on standby to join the vessel, but previous ports have not allowed any crew changes.
According to Mr Lambrinides, Cassiopeia has also requested that a doctor visit Olivia when it arrives in Singapore, to examine chief officer Simchenko to evaluate his condition. They have also arranged flights for Mr Simchenko and his replacement and TB Marine are prepared to delay the vessel if necessary to effect crew change.