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News: UAE Ports Update

24 March 2020

Various ports are placing restrictions on crew changes causing ships to retain the same crew for unusually long periods of time during this COVID-19 pandemic.  As a consequence, it is expected that shipowners will face issues relating to crewmember wellbeing during the long or extended contracts, and an increased demand for onboard decontamination and cleaning services.

The United Arab Emirates government has undertaken steps restricting crewmember transfers and shore access in order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and to safeguard the wellbeing of all the port users and workers, and has adopted the following measures:

● Crew changes are strictly prohibited for vessels arriving from outside the United Arab Emirates.  Please find attached circulars from Ports of Fujairah (17 March 2020) and Abu Dhabi (10 March 2020).

● No crewmember will be allowed to disembark the vessel during its call at DP World’s Ports.  This includes access to the berth/jetty.  No shore leave is permitted, including access to the seafarers' club.

● A crewmember will only be allowed to disembark in case of emergency with the Port Harbor Master's prior approval.

● Boarding on any vessel by vessel agents/owners/representatives and surveyors will be permitted only in exceptional circumstances and will be subject to prior approval from the Port Authority. At present no surveyors are being allowed to board vessels in Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi ports.  Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah have not yet restricted surveyors' attendance.

● Implementation of the Abu Dhabi directive took immediate effect on 10 March 2020 and shall apply for a period of three months.

Kindly note the above guidelines are in effect and any further changes will be communicated by the authorities whenever new regulations are implemented.

Should members have any concerns in respect of these port restrictions we recommend they liaise with agents as far in advance as possible to prevent any issues or delays. The club are also available to assist members whenever required and, should members have any questions about this article or generally require assistance, the first point of contact should be your usual claims handler at the club.

We thank our local correspondents Gulf Agency Company Ltd. at Dubai for providing this information relating to the ports of UAE.