Crew Changes & COVID-19 in Trinidad & Tobago

  • calendar

    12 August 2020

  • location

    Trinidad & Tobago



Measures introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have brought widespread disruption to normal crew change operations, with many seafarers prevented from disembarking or joining their vessels.

Delicia Villaroel, Operations Manager for GAC Energy and Marine Services Ltd in Trinidad & Tobago, presents a guide to the current status of crew changes in the country including: where they may be conducted; what restrictions are in place; what requirements must be met; and how many changes GAC has handled to date.


What challenges and restrictions do shipowners/operators face when arranging crew changes in Trinidad & Tobago, and how have your local contacts helped to ease the situation?

As the country’s borders closed to all commercial travel, absolutely no crew changes permitted for in-transit vessels. Further, no ex-patriates or non-nationals may enter without government approval.

The government has implemented cover approvals for crew changes for vessels  directly supporting the Oil and Gas sector. Exemptions are permitted for non-national crew members to enter the country under approved framework after undergoing strict quarantine, PCR testing, adherence to strict social distancing rules.


How many crew change operations have you successfully executed since COVID-19 lockdowns started?

We have successfully completed four private charters since lockdown.


Are there any specific crew change examples you wish to highlight?

Our first crew change out of Amsterdam led to the conception of the approved framework we now follow to conduct crew changes. It took a month of submissions and re-submissions to the Ministry of National Security before being approved.

Our client needed to conduct crew changes under the charter agreement, but the vessel was not permitted to depart Trinidad. A private charter was the only option at the time and has now become the norm for future crew changes until normality is restored.


There is great uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic; how long it will last, and what its impact will be. How are you managing this from a crew change and lay-ups perspective? What are your expectations for the coming months?

Now that we have an approved framework it has simplified the process from the agent’s perspective, but there is a big economic impact.

At this time, it is still very difficult to make any predictions. An election has been called for August and anything can happen thereafter.


Is there anything else you wish to add?

Despite the negative impact Covid19 had on businesses globally, it has taught us to work smart and adapt the way we do things to the “new norm”.


For the latest updates about COVID-19 status/measures and the impact on shipping, including crew changes, in countries around the world, go to www.gac.com/coronavirus.