On Thursday, Subic Bay Freeport inaugurated a new crew transfer protocol, providing one more location for seafarers to embark and disembark as the crew change crisis continues on. Subic Bay’s new operation will supplement the crew change process at nearby Manila, relieving some of the congestion with a second site.
Five Filipino crewmembers of the LNG carrier Dapeng Star were the first to take advantage of Subic’s crew change process. Just off the port, they boarded a tug carrying officials from the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority, who gave them a health checkup and provided them with PPE. When they reached the pier, they boarded a van and headed to Subic’s airport for a PCR test, according to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Wilma T. Eisma. After the test, they took another van to the Manila Grand Opera Hotel, where they will be quarantined for 14 days.
End-to-end, the evolution took about three hours, Eisma said – far less time that the crewmembers had spent on board. “With the start of crew-change operations here, Subic becomes a part of the solution to this global problem,” Eisma told the Business Mirror.
Law enforcement patrols increased off Manila
After reports of increased risk of maritime crime at the anchorages off Manila and Batangas, the Philippine Coast Guard has upped its patrol presence to deter or catch criminals. PCG boat crews will be searching for and boarding suspicious vessels in the area, especially at night.
Two motorboats have already been apprehended on a technical violation as part of the stepped-up enforcement initiative; they lacked appropriate national licensing and registration.
In August, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) reported a string of robberies targeting anchored or moored vessels in Batangas.The first incident was aboard the product tanker Pacific Sapphire; the perpetrator boarded the tanker by climbing up the mooring lines and then entered the steward’s cabin. Pointing a knife at the steward, the perpetrator took personal belongings and left the vessel via the mooring lines.
Days later, a perpetrator boarded the bulker Vienna Wood at Batangas’ anchorage. The crew member who discovered the intruder tried to stop him and was accidentally cut with a knife. The perpetrator fled and the injured crewmember was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
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