Western Australia’s almost complete re-write of its crew change rules earlier this week now means it is almost impossible to carry out a crew change anywhere in WA except Perth. And even there, it is not easy.
Crew changes now really only possible in Perth
On-signing seafarers can fly into Perth (which includes Fremantle in this context) and will be directed into a 14-day quarantine before they can travel to join their ship.
Seafarers who are signing off can do so in Perth. They have to go straight to the airport and fly out of Australia within eight hours of leaving the ship.
Seafarers who cannot fly out within eight hours will be directed into quarantine until near the time when their flight is due to leave.
While these rules make it ‘possible’ to change crew in Perth, none of this is necessarily ‘easy’ to do. There are many moving parts in a crew change particularly related to visas and lining up flights with ship arrival / departure times.
Seafarers elsewhere in WA must fly to Perth
The new rules require seafarers disembarking in Western Australia anywhere other than Perth to take a charter flight to Perth.
So even if a seafarer were to disembark at, say, the Port of Broome, which has an international airport near to the port, the seafarer would have to in fact fly to Perth. Similarly, nor would the seafarer be allowed to exit WA via the Northern Territory border about 680 km away via very remote country.
The ‘Catch 22‘
Seafarers are required to fly to Perth on private charter flights. But Shipping Australia has been advised that air charter companies require a current negative COVID test before they will allow passengers to fly.
Pathology labs in in north west Australia can carry out tests but there is a three-day turnaround for results. But WA state regulations require seafarers to leave the country via Perth within eight hours of disembarking their ship – this makes it virtually impossible for the crew change to take place.
Unless arrangements can be made for COVID testers to be flown out to a ship to carry out tests onboard vessels three days before sign-off, this rule makes crew sign-off in north west Australia impossible.
Visit our COVID-19 Pages.
Details of the new WA Maritime Crew Approval rules can be found here.