BIMCO COVID 19 weekly report dated 18 March 2022

COVID 19  3 factors to help you stay safe


This BIMCO COVID 19 weekly report for the week ending 18 March covers the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Myanmar, Russia, Ukraine, United States, Tokyo MoU and the latest from  the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Every week, BIMCO summarises measures imposed by governments for sea transport, including for crew change, as well as updates from United Nations bodies such as the IMO, WHO and the ILO. 

1. IMO

The below represent the latest information from the IMO.  

  • The IMO held an Extraordinary General Meeting of its Council on 10 and 11 March to discuss the impact of the present conflict situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov ( the "high risk areas")  on shipping and seafarers. Several decisions were made, in particular, an agreement to establish as provisional and urgent measure, a blue safe maritime corridor for the safe evacuation of seafarers and ships from the high risk areas allowing ships to commercially navigate and mobilise as necessary, thus avoiding the military attacks, whilst protecting and securing the maritime domain. As COVID-19 is still ongoing, these decisions would also overlap with measures taken for the pandemic.  In addition, the same measures applicable to protect seafarers during COVID-19 are also applicable here as addressed by the Council to support the seafarers, in particular, as key workers, they are given unrestricted movement with ships allowing to sail from the ports of Ukraine at the earliest opportunity given,  and due to the conflict, it was proposed that government states exempt their seafarers from mandatory military service. 
  • Addendum no. 44  to IMO circular letter No. 4204, issued on 28 February, publishing a joint IMO/ILO/UNCTAD /WHO statement urging continued collaboration to address crew change crisis, safeguard seafarer health and safety, and avoid supply chain disruptions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Addendum no. 4/Rev. 4 to IMO circular letter No. 4204,  issued on 28 February, providing an updated version of the ICS guidance for ship operators for the protection of the health of seafarers.  
  • Addendum no. 35/rev. 9  and rev.10 issued  on 1 and 10 February 2022 respectively provide consolidated lists of the IMO members that have so far notified IMO on their designation of seafarers as key workers. The latest list is shown below with the addition of Maldives and Peru:

  • Addendum no. 43 to IMO circular no 4204 "Coronavirus (COVID-19)" issued on 1 November 2021 offering a list of global ports offering vaccinations for seafarers. 


2. Government States



The Myanmar's department of Marine Administration issued Marine instruction 1/2022 regarding further extension of the validity of STCW certificates that are expiring between the period of 1 April 2022 to 30 June 2022 shall be extended to 30 September 2022 without need to submit application at the DMA. For full details, please refer to the said marine instruction issued via an IMO circular letter no. 4246/Add.11


1.**The following measures are in place : 

  • Russian ports on Black Sea continue operations without restrictions
  • MARSEC Level No.2 in place until 25 March
  • Sea of Azov is still closed for shipping, however, some vessels noted proceeding southbound. Waiting areas are remain unchanged:
    45°40,0 N 036°21,0 Е;
    45°40.0 N 036°30.0 E;
    45°34.0 N 036°30.0 Е;
    45°34.0 N 036°21.0
    47°00,0 N 038°22,0 Е;
    47°00.0 N 038°29.0 E;
    46°58.5 N 038°29.0 Е;
    46°58.0 N 038°22.0 Е
  • Naval exercises are in force until 31st March 2022. The following area is dangerous for sailing:
    45 03,5N, 036 17,0E
    44 57,5N, 036 23,0E
    44 45,0N, 036 24,0E
    44 45,0N, 035 50,0E
    45 00,0N, 035 50,0E
  • The Ministry of Agriculture issue Executive Order to ban the export of grain and sugar cargoes from 15 March to 31 August 2022
  • Restrictions of flights in south Russia extended until 20 March 2022

2. Via an IMO circular letter no. 4535 dated 15 Marchthe Russian government has informed the IMO of the following: 

  • Seaports of Russia operating as per normal
  • Clearance of ships in and out is carried out irrespective of nationality of ships and crew members including for crew changes

** Source: North P&I club  


The Ukrainian government has advised, via an IMO circular letter no. 4532, of the following recommendations for crew changes due to the ongoing Russian aggression against the country: 

  • Reduce vessel crew ( preferably Ukrainian seafarers) to a minimum in order to keep vessel operational
  • Seafarers leaving should be done through safe corridors. Organisation of crew change to be done by agents in communication with local military administrations. For ports of Yuzhniy, Chornomorsk and Odesa, safest route is to the borders of Moldova and Romania. For crew members at other ports of Ukrainie, follow the safest humanitarian corridors available in those regions. 
  • Recommended countries for departure are Romania, Poland, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary.  

United States

The United States Coast Guard has issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 02-21  Change-4 " COVID-19 Safety Requirements in the Maritime Transportation System".  Change 4 to this MISB advised that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued no new guidance for maritime travel and continues to require mask wear in indoor areas of conveyances and US transportation hubs. All previous guidance outlined in MSIB 02-21 CH-3 remains in effect.


    3. Others


    The Tokyo MoU issued interim guidance on 8 March 2022,  relating to the Ukrainian seafarer repatriation under the current Ukraine - Russia conflict, which is guidance given in addition to the interim measures relating to COVID 19 circumstances. Travel and crew changes have been made more difficult due to the combination of the said conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic. The effect of repatriation applies not only to Ukrainian seafarers but to other seafarers as well that are caught up in the conflict. The guidance centres on application of flexibility and pragmatism; for example,  allowing seafarers to remain onboard until it is safe for them to return home or return to safe countries. Guidelines for port States are also indicated in the said guidance with flexibility to be borne in mind regarding the seafarer's status and obtaining the necessary confirmation from the flag State in relation to extension of their service or contract.  

4. ILO


The International Labour Organization  (ILO) issued the following on maritime labour issues and COVID-19:


5. World Health Organization (WHO)

On 21 January 2022,  WHO issued an updated global technical brief and priority action required for Member states to enhance readiness for Omicron ( B.1.1.529), of which WHO has given an overview.  The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high for a number of reasons (eg significant growth advantage over Delta leading to rapid spread in the community) and continuing to result in significant increases in hospitalisation as well as posing overwhelming demands on health care systems in most countries. The rise is also due to evidence indicating immune evasion causing the quick spread of Omicron and research efforts are ongoing to better understand Omicron’s escape potential against vaccine- and infection induced immunity.  A risk-based approach to adjust international travel measures in a timely manner is recommended and efforts to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination coverage as rapidly as possible should continue. See WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant for additional information.

Please see BIMCO-WHO for more information.


6. IMO Crew Change - National Focal Point for Crew Change and Repatriation of Seafarers

According to GISIS today, the list of countries (48) informing the IMO of their national focal point of contact for crew change and repatriation of seafarers are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium Brazil, Canada, the Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Ecuador ( new) Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, IrelandIsrael, Italy, Jamaica, Libya , the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco ( new) Myanmar, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Singapore Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden,Thailand , Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Vanuatu. 

    7. BIMCO

    BIMCO General COVID-19 Links

BIMCO is continuously monitoring COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on the shipping industry in particular on crew changes. Below are some of the type of information  currently being provided by BIMCO :

You can also view all information on our COVID-19 landing page.

Ai Cheng Foo-Nielsen
in Copenhagen, DK


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