ISLAMABAD, Jun 8 (APP):Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) on Monday rejected a news on aired on a section of press regarding crew change on PNSC managed Vessels terming it baseless.
The news stated that PNSC managed vessels are held up at sea/ports because of crew overstay is totally wrong. It is noteworthy that all vessels are operating under normal conditions without any unrest, said a news release issued here.
It is reiterated that it is not a national, but international challenge, which PNSC would conclude soon, it said.
In addition, Minister for Maritime Affairs has also taken up the matter with Secretary General International Maritime Organization (IMO).
According to PNSC, over 53000 merchant vessels carrying over 1.6 million of
crew members are operating world over. PNSC manages a fleet of 11 vessels including six Tanker Vessels (AFRAMAX) and five Bulk Carriers operated by around 300 crew members. Being the National Flag Carrier, all vessels are entirely manned by Pakistani crew.
Most of the Tanker Vessels generally ply between Gulf and Karachi to meet National Fuel Oil requirements. Whereas Bulk Carriers are engaged internationally across the continents to have commercially viable cargo through Time or Slot Charter besides upholding  diplomatic significance by showing Pakistani Flag world over.
All PNSC vessels are to have License To Operate (LTO) and required to be compliant of IMO, Port State and Flag State Regulations besides meeting International Safety Standards.
Crew change is a regular process in shipping industry after completion of employment contract. Since our vessels are completely manned by Pakistani Seafarers, therefore they have to resort to Port of Convenience for crew change
at foreign ports owing to various visa endorsement delays and other associated restrictions.
It may be noted that after spread of COVID-19, all domestic and international means of communication including rail, road and air were halted for substantial time period, whereas PNSC fleets was and is undertaking its normal operations/business activities without any interruption.
This speaks competence, commitment and dedication of Pakistani Seafarers. Management timely implemented apt measure to keep seafarers safe from this Pandemic.
It is to be stated that at present, all PNSC managed vessels are healthy and crew is motivated despite the chaos engendered by COVID-19, the news release said.
There is no issue of crew change onboard Tanker vessels.
However, some of the crew members onboard Bulk Carriers are overdue owing to international operations vis a vis restrictions imposed by various nations to curtail spread of pandemic and their employment contracts have been extended accordingly.
The issue of crew change has been declared as a Global Challenge and happened to be center of attention lately as port state restrictions and the global lockdown have led to many seafarers being onboard vessels and having their contracts extended until their sign off.
Most Port States are still not allowing international crew change all over the world. So no crew embarkation or disembarkation is possible at foreign Ports.
There are visa endorsement restrictions/prolonged time required for Pakistani Seafarers at various ports especially Europe, USA and China in the wake of
COVID-19.
There are no regular International flights available for in/out country travel thus Sign On/Off crew is unable to arrive at foreign ports/back home during a stipulated
time frame.
Notwithstanding, PNSC Management is fully cognizant to prevailing situation and putting in all efforts to change crew on the first available opportunity. All options are being explored in this regard including deviations in vessels’ voyage plans where possible, to arrive at port of convenience and through chartered flights.
In addition, efforts at government level are also in hand, where Secretary Maritime Affairs has asked Foreign and Aviation Secretaries to accord priority to seafarers travel and Pakistani Embassies world over  be directed to facilitate their
sign on/ off.
Moreover, overdue crew members are also being incentivized as per the contractual obligations and their families are kept posted about the situation/ progress.