SPRO[2020]08--Recent Cases of Emergency Rescue and Repatriation of Foreign Crew Members

Circular Ref No.: SPRO [2020] 08

Date: 16 June 2020

Subject: Recent Cases of Emergency Rescue and Repatriation  of Foreign Crew Members

Dear Sirs/ Madam,
Due to spread of COVID-19 across the world, disembarkation of injured/ill crew and crew changeover on international ships have become a big challenge faced by the shipping industry. Huatai marine has been providing strong support and timely assistance to the Clubs/Shipowners to face the challenge.
According to the guidance on emergency rescue and treatment of injured/ill crew issued on April 12th, 2020 (please refer to Huatai Circular PNI [2020] 07), injured/ill crew in Chinese ports should be guaranteed to get rescue in time. Although the guidance does not make it clear whether repatriation of foreign injured/ill crew is permitted, Huatai Marine has made great efforts not only to arrange emergency rescue of injured/ill crew, but also to arrange repatriation for the crew who are not fit for working on board anymore. In particular, our Guangzhou office successfully arranged disembarkation and repatriation of a crew member who suffered mental illness while our Tianjin office arranged for repatriation of a crew who was hospitalized last December but has been detained in China due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Recent Cases
Qingdao Office: Successfully arranged emergency treatment and repatriation for ill crew member 
At the end of May 2020, a Romanian crew member was suffering abdominal pain while working on the ship. Huatai Qingdao Office was instructed to assist the crew in receiving emergency treatment when the ship called at Yantai. Our Qingdao marine team engaged in urgent communication with a number of government departments and obtained the permission for onshore medical treatment before the ship arrived at the port.The ill crew was disembarked and received medical treatment immediately after the ship took her berth. The crew member was then diagnosed as pancreatic tumor and the attending doctor advised that the crew should return home for surgery soonest. Qingdao marine team established contacts with relevant government departments and Romanian Embassy in China and obtained the entry permit of the crew within one and a half days. The vessel sailed from Yantai Port without any delay and the crew member was successfully repatriated via Dalian. 
In early June 2020, a Filipino crew member suddenly vomited and fainted on the ship. The Club instructed our Qingdao Office to arrange treatment immediately when the ship arrived at Lanshan Port. Qingdao marine team obtained the permit for onshore medical treatment in time and the crew member was successfully disembarked and sent to the hospital within two hours after berthing. According to the doctor, the crew member was no longer fit for on board work due to his serious condition. Qingdao marine team then contacted a number of government departments and the Philippine Embassy in China and obtained the entry permit of the crew member over the weekend, causing no delay to the vessel. The crew member is being treated in the hospital and we will help him to be repatriated when he recovers.
Guangdong Office: successfully arranged the repatriation of a crew member suffering mental illness
On April 3, 2020, a foreign ship arrived at a shipyard in Guangdong Province to refit the desulfurization tower. On April 15, the Ukrainian chef on the ship experienced mental problems. His situation gradually deteriorated and his leg was injured. Owners and the Club wish to arrange for the crew's disembarkation for medical treatment. Taking into account his mental condition, Owners and the Club decided to arrange for the crew's repatriation after medical treatment.
As the crew member's leg injury was only a scratch and not applicable for emergency disembarkation, it was difficult to obtain permit to leave the ship for treatment. The local agent failed after 10 days of hard work. Under such circumstances, the Club commissioned Huatai Guangdong office to provide assistance. Guangzhou marine team arranged doctors to board the ship to provide medical services for the crew and coordinated with a number of government departments to get the permit for disembarkation. After 22 days of hard work, Guangzhou municipal government gave “green light” and the crew was successfully repatriated via Shanghai.
Tianjin Office: the successful repatriation of a Filipino crew member who were hospitalized before the COVID-19 outbreak
A Filipino crew member was hospitalized for treatment in Tianjin Port since last year due to diabetes complications. Due to the impact of the epidemic, the crew member could not be repatriated after his treatment was completed. Our Tianjin Office was then instructed to provide assistance. After times of communication and detailed explanation with the Entry and Exit administration Bureau and other relevant departments, the Philippine Embassy in China, Tianjin Municipal Health Committee, the Visa were finally obtained and the crew was successfully repatriated after going through complicated procedures.
Thanks to its strength, ability and efforts, Huatai is able to achieve the surprisingly good results in these cases.
Being a comprehensive company, Huatai provides a variety of services. We have a number of service teams, including a dedicated personal insurance service team. We have a long-term cooperative relationship with many international medical institutions and rich medical resources with doctors having fluent English communication abilities. These resources enable us to arrange appropriate doctors to board the ship to provide emergency medical treatment to injured/ill crew during the epidemic.
Being a subsidiary to China Reinsurance (Group) Corporation, Huatai maintains a smooth communication channel with different government departments. For this reason, we managed to go through complex formalities with various government departments in those cases involving disembarkation and repatriation of injured/ill crew during the COVID-19 outbreak. In the case handled by our Guangdong Office, we managed to persuade the Guangzhou municipal government to organize a meeting attended by experts and all related government departments to discuss this matter and formulated a special repatriation plan for the crew.
Huatai will always do its utmost to complete the tasks entrusted by the Club/Members. Again, in the case handled by our Guangdong Office, the crew did not suffer serious injury to his leg and the main reason for repatriation was his mental illness. However, mental illness is not considered as an emergency situation, so arranging for the repatriation of the crew in this case looks like an impossible task. But the crew's state of mind was no longer fit for work on the ship. Taking into account the interests of the crew, Shipowners and the Club, Huatai made every effort and tried to seize every possible opportunity to have the crew disembarked, which finally led to the perfect result.
This is Huatai Marine Team! We are always here to assist Clubs and Members.
Best regards,

Yu Limin 

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