By Capt. Gultekin Tugcu, Silver Houston
The COVID-19 outbreak became the top concern of everyone onshore and onboard.
In addition to the standard measures as instructed by company circulars, we performed frequent and brief extraordinary safety meetings. Despite very simple measures being implemented, it can be difficult to become accustomed to them. Brief meetings are useful to convert these measures into habits as they will need to be maintained for longer than expected. Such short meetings are also very useful to pass updated information, correct use of material and protecting crew from irrelevant and inaccurate information posted on social media channels.
The measures implemented against this new pandemic will only be effective with the strict adherence of each crew member onboard. We must be rigorous in implementation for the safety of everyone involved.
Some of the measures onboard were as follows:
- Isolation of accommodation
When vessel arrived China for dry-dock, the number of the people we deal with daily increased. In order to contain the risk of third party personnel onboard we implemented a few measures:
- Converted the gym room into a meeting room for port officials and shipyard laborers
- Assign a toilet on upper deck, reserved for people other than ship’s crew.
- The surrounding of the A/C air inlet was isolated for passage
- Chlorine solution was placed at the entrance of accommodation and staircases and used for cleaning the soles of shoes.
The pilot was escorted to the bridge avoiding the accommodation. 1 set of equipment (Radar and ECDIS) reserved for pilot use only. Maximum possible distance was maintained during pilot / Master information exchange. All equipment used by pilot including radar/VHF / ECDIS keyboards were disinfected with alcohol upon his disembarkation. The bridge /including floor was cleaned thoroughly.
- Port officials
Officials are accepted in dedicated meeting rooms only and escorted at all times in the accommodation areas. Spaces inspected by port officials such as the provision store and its passageways are cleaned after the inspections.
- Daily cleaning
All public places are cleaned with detergent and chlorine solutions at the end of working day once everyone has disembarked. Cleaning of public spaces, handrails, floors, etc.
- Coping with side effects
Extended contracts and limitation of shore leave will be another challenge for us in the near future. Since the shipyard period is very hectic for us, we have not felt such side effects yet. To help with this we have organized regular social activities on board after departure and purchased new games and equipment.