Maritime Operations

The maritime industry is playing an essential role in the short-term emergency response to COVID 19, by facilitating transport of vital commodities and products. Despite the current difficult times, a vast majority of ports have succeeded in staying open to cargo operations. However, most of them still remain closed to passenger traffic because they are perceived as incubators and spreaders of the virus.

The fear of the seaman and the voyager is encapsulated in two words, “Free Pratique”, which is a declaration that no infectious disease or plague is aboard. Hauling up a Yellow Flag to communicate this claim (as iconic to coastal communities as seeing the Jolly Roger appear on the horizon) has now been replaced by radio communications in most, but not all ports. But how does a Master now have confidence that the crew and passengers are actually virus free?

The average cargo voyage is 93 days, often with multiple stops at ports on the way to the final destination. Contemporary crews are recruited by commission agents and flown to distant ships as ensembles according to the instructions of a shipowner's crew manager, and the individual crew members often come from poor communities from around the world. Medical expertise on board is very patchy so medical screening in transit is a challenge. When a ship approaches harbour, visitor numbers to the ship escalate dramatically from various agencies all under pressure to conduct their checks at speed so that laytime and demurrage is minimized.

This is a cocktail of risk that requires new global standards, and we contribute to this with our own cocktail of Royal Naval, medical and technology expertise.

We have rapid and accurate testing technologies, deep sanitization nano technologies, and fast movement crew and passenger screening technologies based on thermal imaging and temperature reading, that are solutions to these challenges. These solutions work for every maritime environment from short hop ferries to deep water voyages, and for cargo and cruise liners. They are underpinned by risk mitigation protocols designed to prepare for, protect against and prevent the spread of pandemics.

For cruise liners these new protocols include:

  • Enhanced new sanitation procedures

  • New protocols for “community and crowd “entertainment and restaurant provision on board

  • New health protocols for passengers over 70

  • New measures to protect the staff and prepare them for future outbreaks

  • Measures to prevent extended periods of ships being stranded at sea

  • Repatriation plans for crew if they are stranded far from home

  • Prohibiting shore leave for personnel in “at risk” ports

  • Mandatory virus testing, temperature and oxygen level checks

  • Keeping accurate logs of crew movements

  • Establishing protocols for Pilots and other temporary visitors on board