South Africa: COVID-19 lockdown stalls seafarer recertification

SAMSA headquarters in South Africa. Credit: SAMSA

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has granted a general extension to all seafarers whose certification expires during the country’s three-week lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

To stop the spread of the virus, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster and ordered the country into lockdown from midnight on 26 March until 16 April 2020.

“The result of such lockdown is that all businesses are required to close doors except for those offering essential services. As such, the services for seafarers which are rendered directly by SAMSA and/or its clients/stakeholders may not be delivered during the lockdown,” the maritime authority said in a statement.

Therefore, there won’t be any no short courses available to seafarers (although academic programmes may continue through e-learning platforms) and no eye tests or assessments for recertification during the 21 days.

“As a result, seafarers whose certificates expire during this period are not able to attend refresher training, while some are unable to sign off their vessels,” the statement said.

SAMSA has published a marine notice, which should be sufficient for seafarers working on vessels trading between South African ports. Sailors working on foreign vessels may be required to produce specific individual documents, which are available on the SAMSA website, expressing the extension of the certificate.