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BHP Requirement for Crew Change - COVID-19 Quarantine and Testing Procedures for Vessel owners and Customers

The health and wellness challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents for the global shipping industry continue to weigh on global supply chains. In all countries, protecting the health and safety of the port communities where international vessels arrive is paramount. In parallel, the ability to implement crew changes, which protect the health and safety of crew, mitigate the growing seafarer wellness crisis and safeguard global supply chains, remains critical. Crew changes do not as yet have a globally recognised guideline or standard, and each country/region has largely developed their own nuanced approach with support from the IMO.

During the pandemic, BHP has implemented a number of additional checks and protocols by which we require the vessel owners to provide evidence of how they intend to control the COVID-19 infection risk during crew changes. We recognise the significant effort that all our partners have put into controlling and managing this risk and the fact that these controls have in most instances been successful. There is, however, no doubt that procedures vary between shipping companies and different service providers and that some are better, or applied more consistently, than others. 

In recent months, we have seen a small number of ships arriving in port with COVID-19-positive crew members on board following crew changes. It is not acceptable that a Covid-19 positive seafarer is ‘at work’ and risking his/her wellbeing and that of others around them. In some cases, this has resulted in significant disruption for BHP and its customers. While BHP appreciates that all parties involved in managing this process are dealing with an unprecedented situation, the industry must address the gaps and control failures that are leading to these incidents. Local authorities and regulators in the jurisdictions in which we operate have indicated that they are not willing to tolerate the occurrence of further similar incidents.

COVID-19 Quarantine and Testing Procedures for Vessel owners and Customers

1. Pre-embarkation: Seafarers to quarantine for 14 days in a Secure Quarantine Accommodation (SQA) location and depart SQA for vessel only after both SQA entry and exit PCR testing has returned a negative result. The entry PCR test is to be done on the first day of quarantine and exit PCR test is to be done 48 hours prior to boarding the vessel. Seafarers to transit from SQA to embarkation port/terminal via single private vehicle not shared with anyone other than crew members of the same embarkation rotation wearing PPE provided in personal COVID-19 kit, and board the vessel via launch with crew only of the same embarkation rotation. Appropriate infection control protocols to be observed by travelling crew, private hire driver and launch boat crew.

2. Post-embarkation (during the voyage): On vessel, antigen rapid tests should be completed for embarking crew on day 1 and day 8 from embarkation and for any crew displaying potential symptoms of COVID-19. Temperature checks should be conducted and recorded twice-daily for all crew during voyages and in each case verified by Master. In the event of a positive result, an immediate notification must be sent to charterers, the relevant authorities in the destination jurisdiction and all other relevant parties. The vessel crew must follow COVID-19-related health and safety protocols in line with WHO-approved method and process, including isolation of any crew members suspected or found to be COVID-19-positive.

3. Port Arrival (prior to berthing): Further antigen rapid tests should be conducted prior to the pilot’s expected time of arrival on board at next port of call after crew change and all crew members must record negative test results prior to allowing pilot on board and/or proceeding to berth. As antigen rapid testing is illegal in some jurisdictions without prior authorisation from the local authorities, all testing should be conducted in international waters.

4. Berthing and time at berth: Once clearance to berth is provided, twice-daily temperature checks should continue with continuous communication with charterers, local authorities and shore personnel regarding health and welfare of crew.

5. Disembarkation process: In addition to complying with all local regulatory requirements, any seafarers disembarking at a port or having contact with shore personnel should have completed and be able to evidence steps 1 to 4 above. Vessel owners should have measures in place to conduct all testing and reporting with WHOapproved methods and process, with verifiable reporting documentation. In cases where controls have failed, the cause of the failure should be investigated by the vessel owner, the cause understood and gaps in existing policies and protocols closed.

Listed below are antigen testing kits recommended by experts engaged by BHP. These test kits or equivalent are suitable.

1. Manufacturer: SDBiosensor Inc (Korea – Republic of)

Name of test: STANDARDTM Q COVID-19 Ag Test

Australian sponsor: Biocelect Pty Ltd

2. Manufacturer: Abbott Rapid Diagnostics Jena GmbH (Germany)

Name of test: PanbioTM COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device

Australian sponsor: Abbott Rapid Diagnostics Pty Ltd

3. Manufacturer: Access Bio Inc (United States of America)

Name of test: CareStartTM COVID-19 Antigen

Australian sponsor: Pantonic Health Pty Ltd

4. Manufacturer: Becton Dickinson and Company (United States of America)

Name of test: BD VeritorTM System for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2

Australian sponsor: Becton Dickinson Pty Ltd5. Manufacturer: BioNote Inc (Korea – Republic of)

Name of test: NowCheck COVID-19 Antigen Test

Australian sponsor: Life Bioscience Pty Ltd


For more information

BHP’s priority is the health and safety of communities we operate in and of seafarers on-board

vessels managed by vessel owners in our supply chain. We thank you for your commitment to the

wellbeing of all seafarers.

For further information please contact BHP


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