British authorities are expected to release a set of requirements for the cruise industry a few weeks before the return of operations, which is expected to begin in mid-May, after further easing of COVID-19-related restrictions. The UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency, which oversees the inspection of all vessels operating in the UK, is the first to announce the necessary actions for all passenger ships seeking to resume operation after being suspended due to an epidemic.
In “Notice to all surveyors, ship operators, port authorities, captains, police officers and crew”, the MCA sets expectations for extended UK inspection of cruise ships operating in UK ports aboard UK resident passengers. The agency notes that it has historically conducted extensive inspections of cruise ships operating in British ports to provide a level of assurance to the traveling public.
Noting that cruise ships have been in service for more than a year, MCA’s policy is that all cruise ships operating from British ports on board British passengers will undergo “expansion checks” by MCA surveyors prior to commencement. Number of jobs regardless of previous inspection history. The scope of inspections performed on UK-registered vessels such as Cunard, P&O, Princess Cruises and Saga is determined on a case-by-case basis based on the level of supervision maintained by the MCA during the epidemic period.
International cruise ships scheduled to depart from the UK this summer, including Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Fred. However, Olsen, MSC, Royal Caribbean International, and Viking all have to undergo extended screening. MCA says this will be regardless of the ship’s or organization’s history.
The MCA will follow extended inspection standards as specified in Port State Control’s Paris MOU, an organization made up of 27 maritime administrations in Europe, Iceland and Canada. The Paris MOU’s inspection routines cover 14 categories, from structural conditions including watertight conditions and machinery to lifesaving, emergency, fire safety, navigation and pollution control. This includes living and working conditions and documentation of the ship.
In addition, the MCA says it does not have the relevant capacity to assess the effectiveness of certain protective measures implemented on board for COVID-19 management, but each ship must have a COVID-19 management plan. Such plans must be confirmed by a competent and independent third party.
MCA verifies that the vessel has a COVID-19 management plan and that the plan is subject to external verification. Ships that do not have a COVID-19 management plan or cannot demonstrate that they have been externally verified may be banned from carrying passengers until the associated risks have been assessed and demonstrated to have been mitigated.
It is expected that UK health authorities will issue detailed instructions on ship operations to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for passengers and crew. The cruise ship stated in its announcement that the policy of the British authorities is still under review.
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