A pilot run of a new platform is set to begin, aiming to tackle the crew change crisis by deploying remote health monitoring technology to track crew healthiness from shore to sea and back to shore.
The “SafeCrew Platform”, designed by Captain Milutin Gojkovic, managing director of Alpes Maritime Consulting (AMC), will utilise FDA-grade sensor devices, artificial intelligence and smart apps to monitor crew health starting at their home town once they are hired and continuing on the vessel until returning to shore.
Run by the SafeCrew Consortium, which compromises of AMC, digital health company DynoSense and IT consultancy EVVO Labs, it is hoped that the verification of health status will enable as many as 400,000 seafarers to return home after being stranded due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.
The platform works by having the crew members’ health status certified by medical doctors and stored in a private cloud, enabling pre-distribution of data to port and health authorities and discharge ports.
Shipowners and crew management companies will also have access to data for easy monitoring and onshore clearance so that crew changes can take place as normal.
Last month, Gojkovic, a former head of regional operations at CMA CGM, told CM: “Keeping the crew on board for one year is not safe, no matter how much it costs. The maritime industry needs to work with authorities on faster acceptance of the crew to step down and for new crew to step in.”
COVID-19 restrictions on travel and transit have led to the contracts of many seafarers being extended by several months despite pleas to governments to designate them as essential key workers and to facilitate their travel.
Some seafarers have now been at sea for 17 months without a break, well beyond the 11-month limit set out in the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) while another 400,000 are unable to join ships.
Besides the hardship caused to crews, the crisis has inflicted significant operating costs on shipowners and ship and crew management companies.
The pilot run will be carried out soon with shipowners and port authorities and the results will be reported to the International Chamber of Shipping.
A statement from the SafeCrew Consortium noted that it is ready to offer this “sustainable and effective” solution for the collective benefits and welfare of crews and shipowners, ship management companies and port authorities to address various regulatory and management requirements.