Maritime body MASSA hails Centre”s decision to permit sign-off of foreign seafarers at Indian ports

Hailing the Centre”s decision to permit sign-off of foreign seafarers in India as a historic move, global maritime body MASSA on Saturday said they will facilitate the travel of foreign seafarers.

MASSA said the move comes as a huge relief for about 1.2 million seafarers globally who are involved in the international trade routes.

The Ministry of Home Affairs on July 17 accepted a proposal of the shipping ministry and issued a Standard Operating Protocol for repatriation of foreign seafarers from Indian Ports during COVID -19 pandemic.

It permits sign-off of foreign seafarers working on vessels other than cruise vessels at Indian ports and to allow these seafarers to go abroad on Vande Bharat flights or non-scheduled commercial flights or chartered flights.

“We believe this is a historic decision taken by our government recently in the interest of Indian ship manning companies as our pending demand stands accepted. This development is a huge relief for MASSA as we assist in development of infrastructure which helps business interest of member lines, primarily related to employment of seafarers onboard ships,” MASSA CEO Captain Shiv Halbe told PTI.

The Maritime Association of Shipowners Shipmanagers and Agents (MASSA) and global maritime bodies have been demanding from the Indian government to allow sign-off of foreign seafarers working on vessels other than cruise vessels at Indian ports.

As per the Centre”s circular, it has also been decided to permit, as a special case , grant of TLP (temporary landing permit) for up to one month by the Immigration Officer concerned to such foreign seafarers who have expired Indian visas subject to their having a valid passport and a valid seaman”s identity document i.e CDC.

“We will certainly facilitate the travel of foreign seafarers signing off at Indian ports through chartered flights currently being operated by MASSA between India and Qatar,” added Halbe.

Earlier, MASSA had sought the intervention of Prime Minister”s Office and the shipping ministry for bringing back the stuck Indian seafarers.

The shipping ministry had come out with a standard operating procedure for easing out the sign-on and sign-off process of Indian seafarers at Indian ports.