INTERTANKO warns tanker industry to prepare for Covid-19

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The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) has advised its Members to take measures to assist the global efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19 and is urging charterers to take the same flexible and pragmatic approach taken by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Control measures put in place to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus have hit the tanker industry in four areas: the ability to relieve crews from ships; the ability to arrange SIRE and CDI inspections; the ability to complete repairs and supply spares; and the issuance of statutory and Class certification.

The inability for seafarers to travel and join ships is something that affects the entire shipping industry. The impact on families, the mental welfare of seafarers and issues related to long-term fatigue are very real concerns, says INTERTANKO. For tankers there is the additional impact upon the crew matrix and the breaching of statutory limits on crew trip length.

The tanker industry is reliant on the seamless implementation of vetting and inspection regimes administered by OCIMF and CDI. However, ships are unable to undertake SIRE and CDI inspections due to the inability of inspectors being able to travel to ships. This means that many tankers are unable to maintain their regular (six-monthly) inspection schedules.

Tankers are also complex pieces of machinery and rely on maintenance from specialised technicians joining ships from manufacturers and spare part providers. With increasing travel restrictions, those specialists and spare parts are hard to come by.

Flag and Class inspectors are also being prevented from joining ships and therefore are unable to issue certificates.

In light of these issues, INTERTANKO has advised its Members to assume that the problems will last for several months; plan ahead and undertake a SIRE / CDI inspection at the earliest opportunity, including on loading or idle if possible; and inform charterers of any cancellation of inspection.