Maritime mutual protection and indemnity organisation The American Club on Tuesday (7 April) published a circular outlining best practices for bunkering operations to ensure the safety of crew and limit the spread of COVID-19:
BUNKERING AND COVID-19
COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for shipowners relevant to compliance with the January 1, 2020 amendments to the MARPOL 73/78 Convention, Annex VI, regulation 18, Fuel Oil Quality.
The “MARPOL delivered sample” as per MARPOL73/78, Annex VI, regulation 18 is the mandatory sampling which needs to be taken during the entire bunker supply operation in the presence of all parties, i.e. vessel personnel, bunker supplier and, if present, the bunker inspector (see the attached diagram).
It is important that all parties involved should establish prior knowledge about the local regulations of the port in which the bunkering is to take place.
The shipowner’s surveyor, vessel’s Chief Engineer or other representative, charterer’s surveyor and bunker supplier representative should then agree to a COVID-19 survey protocol, including their policies in regard to physical contact, before bunker operations are commenced. At a minimum, the protocol should address, but not necessarily be limited to, the following elements of best practice, taking account of Chapter 1 of the Club’s Bunkering—A Compendium:
Use of cameras or video recorders in lieu of personnel being on site during bunkering and fuel sampling
In lieu of bunkering personnel being physically present onboard the vessel for the duration of the bunkering operation, and the collection and securing of bunker samples, shipowners, charterers and bunker suppliers may consider the use of explosion-proof cameras or video recorders. Subject to mutual agreement between the parties, the taking, sealing and tagging of samples might be witnessed through a camera or video recorder and the exchange accomplished without the need for bunker barge crew to come on board the vessel.
If cameras or video recorders are to be used, a protocol should be established for how these recordings are shared between the shipowner, charterer and the bunker supplier.
Members are reminded that the Club maintains dedicated website space containing a range of information and updates on both the COVID-19 virus and bunkering, respectively, at: https://www.american-club.com/page/infectious_diseases and https://www.american-club.com/page/bunker-fuels
A full copy of the circular is available for download here.
Photo credit: Sergio Souza
Published: 9 April, 2020
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