As of this writing, the union has returned to approximately 70 percent of its normal volume of crew changes. For the most part, things are going well – but we know there are exceptions, especially with the overseas shuttle ships.
The SIU is actively coordinating with the vessel operators, State Department, Department of Defense, U.S. embassies, International Maritime Organization, International Labor Organization, World Health Organization, and directly with the host nations to get it done. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of red tape and there are widely varying guidelines which themselves can and do change. (In one recent case, an officer from a foreign-flag ship travelled from one overseas port to another, by plane, to join his ship. When he arrived, the regulations for boarding the ship had changed, and he wasn’t grandfathered. He wasn’t allowed to board the vessel. This is only one example but it illustrates the complexities and obstacles.)
We know everyone has a breaking point. We applaud the dedication of everyone who’s overdue for relief and ask that you hang in there – this is a top priority and we are making progress.
As an example of the teamwork that’s happening, for those who don’t know, several of our vessel operators recently chartered a plane to make crew changes in Diego Garcia. That plane returned to the U.S. last weekend after the changes were made.
June Meetings Cancelled; Cautious Optimism for July
In an ongoing effort to keep everyone safe, the union’s executive board this week voted to cancel the June membership meetings.
While nothing formally has been decided about July, we are cautiously optimistic that those meetings will take place, undoubtedly involving social distancing, PPE and the modifications that already have been made in most of the hiring halls.
The standard caveats apply: Everything is subject to change, especially when complying with widely varying state and local guidelines that often differ even within the same state.
Pre-Boarding Quarantines are Serious Business
It’s extremely important that all members adhere to the agreed-upon protocols prior to joining a ship. This applies whether you are self-isolating at home or in a hotel.
While we are navigating these uncharted waters, think of the pre-boarding safety regimen as your part of helping ensure the vessel’s crew remains COVID-free. And remember that if you fail to comply, you are affecting not only yourself but your future shipmates and the fellow members who are awaiting reliefs.
No one is happy about any of this but it’s the hand we’ve been dealt. Let’s continue to pull together and do the best possible job, both at sea and ashore.
Jobs Available; Register and Ship
We have plenty of jobs available, and for anyone concerned about document expiration, please note that the Coast Guard and the TSA have extended the valid periods/date ranges for various credentials. Call your port agent to register and for more information.