The Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) has acted to assist ships and seafarers during the coronavirus pandemic by extending licences and postponing the renewal of official documentation for several months.
This policy position was approved by the Minister of Transport and Mining, the Hon. Robert Montague, who emphasised the critical importance of an uninterrupted supply chain for global trade. The Minister said: “Our seafarers must feel confident that the validity of their documents will remain so during this challenging period.”
This move will enable seafarers to work on board Jamaican flagged vessels for longer in cases where they cannot transit home, and will enable ships to operate legally even if their documentation has recently expired or inspections cannot be carried out.
Jamaica’s Flag State Jamaica Ship Registry (JSR) has announced a reprieve for certifications facing expiration, including certificates of registry, and various licences for vessels, as well as endorsements and record books for seafarers. In most cases these will be extended for three months. Time allowed for vessel surveys, inspections, registrations, and medical examinations is also extended.
The waivers are listed in the MAJ’s latest circular: Validity of Certificates – Coronavirus (COVID-19). The measures include:
- Registration documentation: A copy of the circular along with the original certificate of registry shall have the effect of extending the certificate currently onboard, for a term of up to three months until June 30, 2020.
- Seafarers’ documentation: The MAJ advises all seafarers whose certification will expire during this period, that their certification will remain valid until June 30, 2020. A copy of this circular along with the original seafarer’s documentation shall have the effect of extending the document, for a term of up to three months until June 30, 2020. In addition, the MAJ is also providing advice to seafarers who need to be repatriated.
- Medical fitness certificates: The Shipping (Medical Examination) Regulations, 1998, permits a seafarer whose medical fitness certificate expires during a voyage in a location where it is not possible to obtain a medical fitness certificate accepted for working on a Jamaican ship to continue working for up to three months without such certificate. If in exceptional circumstances this period is likely to be exceeded, the owner or manager should contact the MAJ for advice.
- Vessel surveys and inspections: Where Flag-state surveys and/or inspections become due on vessels and attendance by a Flag or RO surveyor is impracticable, a grace period of up to three months may be considered. Consideration for allowance will be done on the merit of each case. Owners and managers are responsible to submit a request for such consideration, through the associated RO.
Minister Montague commented: “These are difficult times for the shipping industry which transports 90% of world trade, and for the Jamaican maritime community. The Maritime Authority of Jamaica is doing all it can to support its clients and the shipping sector, to facilitate the smooth operation of vessels as well as support of our seafarers who are doing such an important job in ensuring goods get to the areas where they are needed.”
The MAJ remains operational with a small office team, while other staff are working from home.