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In its Annual Report 2020 on the German Maritime Labour Act, the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr comprehensively presents how it verified compliance with the requirements of the German Maritime Labour Act throughout the last year. A guidance document on the topic "Working and living on board" aids with the implementation of the German Maritime Labour Act.

Since 2013 the Maritime Labour Act implements the International Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) on ships under German flag. With these provisions, mandatory and comprehensive regulations regarding working and living conditions of seafarers have been established. Important topics like hours of work and rest, food and catering, payment of wages, occupational health on board and many more are now clearly regulated and are verified on a regular basis.

36 MLC surveyors inspect international ships abroad and nationally regarding their compliance with the requirements of the Convention for the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr. Maritime Labour Certificates and Fishing Labour Certificates are typically issued as electronic certificates by now.

The employees of the ISM / ILO Department attend to complaints of seafarers about working and living conditions, approve private recruitment agencies and ensure that shipping companies under German flag are informed about current topics of this topic area. The ISM / ILO Department has now published its Annual Report 2020.

With its MLC Guidelines, the ISM / ILO Department offers support with the implementation of the Maritime Labour Act on board German-flagged ships. These MLC Guidelines are available for download directly to your smartphone so that you have them at the ready whenever you need them:

QR-Code MLC-Leitfaden

Validity of MED certificates after the Brexit

The United Kingdom left the European Union on the 31st of January 2020 and is now a third country. At first, because of an agreed transitional period, there were no legal changes for products that have to comply with the EU Marine Equipment Directive until the 31st of December 2020.

However, as of 1st of January 2021, conformity assessment procedures in accordance with MED can no longer be carried out by UK notified bodies. Accordingly, certificates for MED marine equipment may no longer be issued by them as of 1st of January 2021.

In addition, certificates issued by UK notified bodies can no longer be used by the manufacturer of MED marine equipment in the context of the MED conformity assessment as of 1st of January 2021. A further affixing of the wheelmark on MED marine equipment is no longer possible on the basis of these certificates since 1 January 2021!

Read more on the following topics:

  • MED marine equipment
  • marine equipment in the United Kingdom
  • exit agreements between the EU and the United Kingdom

New safety requirements for sea-going vessels on sea trials

The new Safety requirements for sea-going vessels on sea-trials define the necessary general requirements for the special circumstances at a sea trial. As sea trials take place during a limited time and in a defined area, adapted safety requirements apply for example in regard to manning, watches, safety instructions of the persons on board and safety equipment in comparison to the normal operations later on.

Before it is put into service, a newly built, converted or repaired ship is tested comprehensively or regarding the converted or repaired elements at a sea trial. In order for the shipyard or shipping company, respectively, to be able to conduct a sea trial, the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr has to verify compliance with the safety requirements and confirm this with a Certificate of Sea Trial.

FAQ: German Flag about the coronavirus

We, as German Flag bear a responsibility to contain the Corona pandemic. For this, we adapt our procedures for ship certificates and ship surveys to the current situation. For seafarers facilitating measures are in place regarding certificates of competency and proficiency as well as medical fitness certificates. The most important information about this are given in an official statement by the German Flag.

In our FAQ "Corona Info", we answer all important questions about the implications of COVID-19 for seafarers and shipping companies. If you have any further questions, please mail via Feedback.

German Flag reacts to current Corona situation

The German Flag State Administration supports seafarers and shipping companies in their Corona pandemic management and has adapted their procedures to the current situation. For example, Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency are generally extended for 6 months. Ship surveys are currently only conducted in exceptional cases.

As in March, during the Corona lockdown German Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency that would expire are all valid for 6 more months. Seafarers do not need to apply individually for an extension of validity. If mandatory refresher courses are cancelled due to the Corona Virus but all conditions for an extension of validity are met, certificates will be extended regularly for 5 years. The proof of participation in the refresher course must be submitted at a later date. The BSH kindly asks to apply for this accordingly.

Medical fitness examinations can be performed with most of the physicians recognized by the BG Verkehr (compare https://www.deutsche-flagge.de/en/maritime-medicine/fitness-for-sea-service/authorized-physicians). If a medical certificate expires during a sea voyage and a renewal is not possible in the following port due to the corona restrictions in the ports (no crew change or visit at a qualified doctor is possible), the certificate remains valid until the next port in which a medical fitness examination can be performed – at the most for a further three months. The legal basis for this is the German Maritime Labour Act, Sec. 12 Para. 6, and the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), Standard A1.2 Para. 9.

Medical Refresher Courses take place – exceptions excluded. If there are any problems in this area, please contact the Maritime Medical Service of BG Verkehr (seeaerztlicher-dienst@bg-verkehr.de).

Currently, the BG Verkehr conducts ship surveys only in exceptional circumstances. In regard to flag state surveys, shipping companies should contact the BG Verkehr to find individual solutions as to how and if upcoming surveys can be conducted. If a survey is not possible in a port due to COVID-19 safeguard measures, the German Flag can waive the survey on a case-by-case basis and after assessment of the following documents:

  1. Declaration of the shipowner explaining what circumstances / special conditions arising from COVID-19 restrictions make it impossible to conduct a survey
  2. Declaration/recommendation of the classification society responsible for the ship, including consultation of the latest class status records
  3. Evaluation of existing conditions of the classification society responsible for the ship (class conditions)
  4. Access to the report of the last inspection of the ship’s bottom, indicating IW (In-Water) or Dry-Docking
  5. Evaluation of the results from the databases of the respective port State control regime (PSC MoUs)
  6. Evaluation of the latest ISM audit report
  7. For non-convention ships (which are not subject to international conventions, such as SOLAS and others) and fishing vessels with a length of more than 24 metres: evaluation of the latest flag state reports

In these exceptional circumstances, the German flag can issue electronic short-term certificates that are valid until the date on which a survey of the ship is possible. Even in these exceptional circumstances, shipping companies must comply with all technical and operational provisions on their ships.

Currently, Port State Control in German ports only takes place due to overriding factors (please find the explanation on the website of Paris MoU ).

The German Flag has compiled its most important measures in an official statement which is available in the FAQ section regarding corona on our website: https://www.deutsche-flagge.de/en/coronavirus.

On its 75th session on 20 November 2020, IMO's Maritime Environment Protection Committee MEPC adopted several measures to further reduce the world's merchant fleet's fuel consumption and thereby its CO2 emissions. For the first time, these provisions include existing ships as well.

With two measures MEPC wants to make sea-going ships more efficient, and therefore more environmentally friendly:

  1. All ships of 5000 GT and more have to meet certain efficiency standards with the new EEXI (Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index). In order to achieve this, ship operators have to implement technical means to significantly lower their fuel consumption and thereby the CO2 emissions of their ships. Already since 2013, a similar requirement, the EEDI (Energy Efficiency Design Index), has been in place for existing ships. The EEXI engages nearly the complete trading global merchant fleet to reduce their current CO2 emissions by up to 50 % depending on the ship type from 2023.
  2. Moreover, the IMO requires that from 2023 the ship operations are aligned with stricter CO2 emission levels. Every ship receives an assessment of its CO2 intensity, which is divided into five categories from A to E. This categorization is done with the CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator). A similar assessment is already known from electronic devices and cars. Based on the Carbon Intensity Indicator CII, shipping companies whose ships are assessed as class D or E in three in consecutive years have to develop a list of measures to reduce CO2 sufficient to return to class C. This instrument is also meant to increase pressure on ship operators to deploy only their most efficient ships on the market. In addition, the CII creates transparency for all market participants and a comparable data pool.

Currently, international working groups develop guidelines for the implementation of these measures to ensure the starting date 1st January 2023. Furthermore, the IMO panels plan further measures to reduce emissions from shipping such as alternative fuels, emission trade, as well as a CO2-free maritime transport of goods in the long run. The MEPC has not made any concrete decisions to this regard, however.

The Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution regarding the classification of seafarers as key workers. All states must still ensure the facilitation of crew changes. Seafarers should receive vaccination against the Corona Virus as soon as possible.

Seafarers are key workers – this is the central message of UNO Resolution A/75/L.37 that was adopted by 71 member states. This fact lays the groundwork for concrete measures within the resolution, which governments, international organisations and relevant involved parties can implement. These include mostly safe crew changes, unrestricted arrivals and departures of seafarers and repatriation of "stranded" seafarers.

According to the United Nations, about two million seafarers on 98,000 merchant vessels provide for the transport of 80% of the goods in the global trade and ensure the seamless provision of medical equipment, food and other essential goods, despite the Corona pandemic.

Crew-Uno

The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization IMO, Kitack Lim, was pleased about the adoption of the resolution. He thanked the states that have recognized seafarers as key workers. Resolving the ongoing crew change crisis is, after all, a human rights issue, says Lim.

"Two million seafarers among which are about half a million employed by European shipowners play a key role in maintaining the global logistics chain. We thank the seafarers for their hart work" says Martin Dorsmann, Secretary General of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, ECSA. In Addition, ECSA affirms their support of IMO's call to consider priority for seafarers regarding the upcoming vaccination campaign against the Corona Virus.

As of now, shipping companies can apply for their cabotage approval online via www.deutsche-flagge.de/en. In addition, companies can now register their interest in transports online. This way, the Generaldirektion Wasserstraßen und Schifffahrt (GDWS) optimizes their service for sea cabotage.

Cabotage is about the carriage of persons or goods with ships under foreign flag in German coastal waters. A cabotage approval is required when persons or goods are intended to get transported commercially from one place to another within German territory using German coastal waters (12 nautical mile area) on ships without a European flag (except Norway).

During the application process, the GDWS checks whether EU-flagged ships are available for the intended transport (a shipping space capacity verification). If this is the case, the cabotage application is denied.

This online option for cabotage applications and registration of carriage capacity, e.g. dry cargo ships, dredgers and construction site traffic, improves the economic chances of companies with EU-flagged ships.

The new online service has been programmed by the IT department of BG Verkehr and can be found under the heading "Flag · Register".

Tips for seafarers and shipowners

The Corona virus has become a maritime issue as well. We give advice to seafarers and shipowners how to protect oneself from the virus and what to do in the event of suspected cases.

  1. The  "Medizinisches Handbuch See" by the Maritime Medical Service of BG Verkehr published in November 2019 contains direct recommendations for hygienic measures to be taken when treating possibly infected persons on board. Which include among others
    • for the person treating the patient:
      • Personal protection by wearing the personal protection equipment (PPE) on board, e.g. examination gloves, face masks covering mouth and nose as well as disposable apron
      • Hand hygiene with virucidal disinfectant (no. 18.01 of the German medicine chest) to avoid transmission of pathogens
    • for the patient:
      • Isolation measures of infected persons or those suspected of being infected and people they have been in contact with
    • for medical rooms on board
      • Hygiene measures in rooms and for facilities used for medical purposes
    • The necessary information about the procedure when contacting the radio medical advice service and cooperation with the port health authorities, including the required reporting procedures, are given in the "Medizinische Handbuch See". The "Medizinische Handbuch See" is available at Dingwort Verlag and can be ordered on its website (https://dingwort-verlag.de/medizin/). The English version will be available from spring.
  2. In the event of suspected cases, contact the radio medical advice service TMAS Cuxhaven as early as possible where you will receive further advice on the treatment of the ill person.
  3. On a European level, the working group "EU Healthy Gate joint action consortium" has compiled preliminary recommendations for shipping companies when dealing with the Corona virus. Pages 2-8 of the "Interim Advice for ship operators" contain direct recommendations for cruise ships, page 9-11 for cargo ships.
  4. If there is a suspected case on board a ship that will call on a German port, please contact the port health authorities prior to the arrival. Their experts will inform you about further measures. The contact data for the port health authorities in German ports are listed on the website of the city of Hamburg.
  5. Current and detailed information about the Corona virus in general are given on the website of the Robert Koch Institute, the central institution in Germany regarding disease control and prevention, as well as on the website of the World Health Organization WHO.
  6. The latest travel notices for the countries where the Corona virus has occurred can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

A medical emergency at sea – no rescue service, no hospital, no doctors. It is the master's or navigational officer's obligation to help. The newly published handbook can help to facilitate the best medical care possible in places far away from medical infrastructure.

This book from practitioners for practitioners offers compact treatment recommendations for emergencies, injuries and illnesses on board sea-going vessels.
350 illustrations and texts that are illustrative, easy to understand and, above all, aimed for application during sea voyages support medical care on board.

As a special service, educational films showing step-by-step sequences of complex treatment measures can be watched with QR Codes.

The English version of the Maritime Medical Handbook is now available at the price of 159,00 € at:

Dingwort Verlag in Hamburg.

It can also be ordered online via https://dingwort-verlag.de/medizin/.

Handbuch-See-neu.jpg

In a new video, the Maritime Medical Service of the BG Verkehr explains how to put on and take off personal protective equipment in the right way. By following the instructions, navigational officers responsible for medical care on board can protect themselves effectively against infectious diseases. The video is now available.

How do you protect yourself when an infectious disease occurs with a person on board? This is not a new question, but the COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness with seafarers once again. The "Maritime Medical Handbook" by the Maritime Medical Service, which has recently been released, gives clear answers and has now been supplemented with a new video. 

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The best protection against contagious infections on board is regular washing of the hands, disinfection and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, an oronasal mask and safety goggles. But even the best protective equipment is only effective if the seafarer puts it on and takes it off in the right way. The new video by the Maritime Medical Service "Putting On and Taking Off Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)" gives advice. The film takes about three minutes and explains, among other things, in which order the protective equipment is to be put on to avoid unwanted infections.

With a QR code or the direct link https://www.medizinisches-handbuch-see.de/Schutzausruestung_en.html, seafarers can watch the video in German or English. The film is part of the "Maritime Medical Handbook", which is an essential practical guide to medical care on board sea-going vessels.

QR-Code-Video_PPE.jpg

Since the video was developed after the recent version of the medical handbook had been published, the QR code could not be included in it. Users of the handbook should stick the QR code onto the pages 26 and 485. In the English version of the Maritime Medical Handbook, which will be published soon, the QR code will be included.

For a long time, asbestos was considered a miracle product: the natural mineral is fire resistant, an insulator, easy to process and inexpensive. But asbestos causes illness and can give rise to cancer. BG Verkehr summarized the things shipping companies have to observe when they flag-in a ship that is contaminated with asbestos.

Those who worked with asbestos in the past often used to breath in the dust and thereby the fine asbestos fibres. A possible result: malignant cancer tumours or changes in the lining of the lung. The employer's liability insurance associations recognize asbestos as a cause of a lung disease known as asbestosis, and as an occupational disease. Asbestosis is the most common cause of death among the terminal occupational diseases. There can be several decades between working with asbestos and the onset of the disease. On average the latency period is 38 years.

Since 1993, asbestos may not be produced or used in Germany, and on a European level since 2005. From 2019 all ships under EU flag from 500 GT must have an inventory of hazardous materials, which must also include asbestos. With the Regulation EU/1257/2013 the EU legally implements the provisions of the Ship Recycling Convention (“Hong Kong Convention”).

Globally, however, there is no ban on asbestos. So, there may still be asbestos present on older ships. If such a ship flags-in under the German flag, the shipowner will have to conduct a risk assessment, compile an asbestos cadaster and arrange mandatory medical check-ups for the seafarers. The prevention division at BG Verkehr has developed a compilation of the shipowner’s obligations when operating an asbestos-contaminated ship.

In addition to this compilation, ship operators have to comply with the provisions of the international SOLAS Convention regarding the ban of asbestos on sea-going vessels. The Circular by the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO MSC.1/Circ.1374 "Information on prohibiting the use of asbestos on board ships" provides more detailed requirements and information on the topic asbestos on sea-going vessels:

  1. On ships built before 1 July 2002, asbestos containing materials (ACMs) may be installed and approved as long as they do not pose a risk to the crew's health.
  2. On ships built on or after 1 July 2002 and before 1 January 2011, new installation of ACMs has been allowed only in exceptional cases.
  3. On ships built on or after 1 January 2011, ACMs have not been allowed to be installed (refer to SOLAS Chapter II-1/3-5).

The Circular was published in the German "Verkehrsblatt" (transport gazette) 19/2013 on 23 September 2013 in the German language and is mandatory for ships flying the German flag.

Specialists discover asbestos on some sea-going vessels during inspections at a later point in time – for example while compiling an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) in accordance with EU Regulation 1257/2013 and the Hong Kong Convention on the Recycling of Ships. In these cases, a transitional period of three years applies to carry out an asbestos abatement on board or an exchange of all of the ACMs (refer to Circular MSC.1/Circ.1374). This transitional period of not more than three years cannot be extent, not even if:

  1. during this time period the ship was temporarily flying a different flag or
  2. asbestos had already been identified three years prior on a ship that was flying a foreign flag and is now about to change to the German flag.

For questions regarding these requirements, the experts of the Machine Department of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr are gladly of assistance (e-mail maschine@bg-verkehr.de or contact qualified engineer Holger Steinbock via phone: +49 40 361 37-217).

The German flag is always available for you - on 365 days of the year. You can reach our specialists under the phone number +49 3190-7777 for all questions about maritime shipping under German flag

The maritime 24/7 hotline is offered by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, BSH. In addition, the stand-by service of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr is also available. More information is given under "Contact Details".

Hotline (klein)