Coronavirus (COVID-19)

MSIB: COVID-19 Crew Change Issues

The Coast Guard Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance has issued MSIB 04-21 “COVID-19 Crew Change Issues” to provide guidance for U.S. mariners who may be experiencing crew change issues abroad and for foreign mariners who may be experiencing crew change issues while in the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significant impacts on the U.S. Marine Transportation System, the Global shipping industry and on seafarers themselves. Travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world have created significant hurdles to crew changes and repatriation of seafarers. The physical and mental fatigue of seafarers who are unable to leave the vessel at the end of their contracts has led to growing humanitarian concerns as well as concerns for the safety of seafarers and shipping. On January 25, 2021, the U.S. joined 53 other International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states in Circular Letter No.4204/Add.35/Rev.3 in pledging to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers.

U.S. Questions and concerns about this policy may be directed to

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

2 replies »

  1. The mental health Of ocean going seaman is essential To not only vessel operations but also the safe operations while In port. Hand-in-hand with that is their physical health. Shore leave Must be weighed with the possibility to Corona virus exposure when Going ashore from transiting through a facility to transiting in a taxi cab or other vehicle all the way to Being exposed to the general public whether in a shopping mall or a Club or facility for socialisation.

    Often in the past There were a few Circumstances where individuals found it difficult to go ashore to a facility. The majority of the reason Was generally attributable to Visa and custom and border protection issues. However many ship owners did not afford for The seaman To be In receipt of Visa’s. Show the majority of shoreside facilities Where providing means for shore leave and a very smalle segment was not. Hence we ended up With certain shore leave Regulations which put a tremendous burden On the facility owner operator. Fortunately it has been left up to local captain of the ports To interpret what is best suitable for local areas.

    With the bitter taste of the few facilities that gave shore leave a bad name and the innumerable amount of instances where visas were the real culprit of restricting shore leave It becomes a hard balancing act In this covert 19 environment to know what is best for the health and safety of the seamen, facility personnel, taxi and transportation companies In individuals who are charged with escorting the semen through facilities weather coming ashore, Flying in from foreign countries sometimes on the restricted list To coming back from Shore leave where exposure might have occurred.

    What do we do to ensure everyone safety from the semen to the escort person at the facility to the rest of the crew when somebody boards to the personnel in the facility who may come in contact with Semen that have exposure or are asymptomatic.

    There is no one size fits all answer but everyone should be afforded Safety of Non exposure.

    • Thank you for your comments. Please continue to share your concerns. When we post about issues effecting the maritime industry we look to include applicable contact information for the agencies, programs or individuals responsible so you can communicate your concerns directly to them. Please look for these contacts of the bottom of each post. You are also welcome to continue to share your concerns and concerns here and I will forward them on as needed.

      CWO Kurt Fredrickson
      Editor, Maritime Commons

Leave a Reply