- Relief for seafarers onboard vessel stuck off coast of China is long overdue
- MSC has requested crew change since mid-2020, but no implementation so far
- MSC urges governments to take a close interest and encourages all parties to find a solution urgent
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company is calling for an urgent crew change solution for the bulk carrier “ANASTASIA”, which is stuck off the coast of northern China, and is among dozens of ships in a waiting line near the port of Caofeidian.
MSC has repeatedly requested during the ship’s voyage that the seafarers onboard should be relieved to return home to their families. These proposals have not yet been implemented by the chartering parties which determine the ship’s movements. China has prohibited a crew change at Chinese ports due to COVID-19 restrictions and MSC’s mid-December requests for a crew change at anchorage or in Japan, a few days sailing away, have not been carried out.
As the technical operator of the ship, MSC is very concerned for the well-being of these sailors and is in regular contact with them, and with their families ashore, as well as supplying a clinical psychologist for remote support. Many of the crew have been at sea for several months longer than was initially anticipated. After local authorities recently blocked MSC’s attempt to send a doctor to visit the ship in person, the company is currently seeking to remedy this through diplomatic channels.
MSC’s daily attempts to seek a solution follow several months of proposals to allow the vessel to make a port call that would facilitate crew relief.
Requests for crew changes
MSC first attempted to change the crew of the ANASTASIA in Hong Kong in June 2020. A subsequent attempt in early August to change crew in Hong Kong was prohibited due to local authorities’ COVID restrictions. Japanese authorities later in August approved the vessel to berth at Mitusure Island in Japan, but the request was not implemented. During the period August to December, further attempts to permit a crew change in Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore and Busan were also refused, including as recently as 17 December 2020 after MSC suggested a potential deviation to Japan for crew change.
MSC is deeply concerned that none of these solutions have worked so far. MSC, as the technical operator of the ship, cannot simply order the master to deviate to a port for a crew change, as the vessel could be arrested as a result. This would only perpetuate the problem and may result in the crew remaining onboard for even longer than necessary.
MSC has already shared information with various authorities and encourages governments to take an interest in forging a solution to this growing humanitarian problem, not only for seafarers onboard the ANASTASIA, but also on dozens of other non-MSC vessels in the area which we understand to be stuck in a similar situation due to trade issues between China and Australia. We have brought the matter to the attention of the UN International Maritime Organization, and other international governmental and industry bodies.
MSC is grateful to the people onboard, and their families ashore, for the extraordinary patience and courage they have shown and we stand with them in seeking an urgent solution to their situation. We will continue to support them and ensure that everyone on board continues to receive timely remuneration and is provided with food, water and other essentials.
For further information, accredited journalists may contact:
Global PR & Internal Communications Manager
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company
m: +41 (0)79 754 8827
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is a global leader in transportation and logistics, privately owned and founded in 1970 by Gianluigi Aponte. As one of the world’s leading container shipping lines, MSC has 493 offices across 155 countries worldwide with over 70,000 employees. With access to an integrated network of road, rail and sea transport resources which stretches across the globe, the company prides itself on delivering global service with local knowledge. MSC’s shipping line sails on more than 200 trade routes, calling at over 500 ports.