Tools developed to reduce COVID-19 risks onboard ships and boost operations

BV worker checking social distancing measures onboard vessel. Credit: Bureau Veritas

Classification societies are developing tools for the shipping industry to return back to normal operating capacity and address risks associated with COVID-19 onboard

Both Attica Group, a ferry transportation service, and CroisiEurope, a cruise ship operator, have implemented Bureau Veritas (BV) ‘Restart your business’ service under the SAFEGUARD label.

Launched in May, the BV service tackles the biological risks of COVID-19 by providing a framework of procedures and measures to implement onboard to protect both passengers and crew. A risk assessment is carried out and sensitive areas and operations identified, then policies, procedures, and work instructions are developed accordingly.

“Measures to be implemented related to hygiene and disinfection in all areas on board (cabins, public spaces, toilets, etc.) as well as social distancing will, likely, include: Plexiglas at reception counters / areas and in restaurant and shops; Floor markings and seat allocation to maintain social distancing,” Andreas Ullrich, global market leader, Passengerships BV, told SAS.

Other measures include the mandatory use of personal protective equipment (PPE) onboard, increased disinfection protocols including touchpoints such as handrails and lift buttons, and changes implemented to air conditioning systems. Special filters will be installed to avoid the recirculation of air and spread of COVID-19 onboard.

Crew will also undergo proper training. “Alongside such procedures, protocols and work instructions implemented on board to minimize the risk of infection it is vital that crew should be properly trained and equipped and understand social distancing measures and the proper use of PPE as important disciplines to help secure and maintain passenger confidence,” said Ullrich.

Social distancing and temperature readings will be taken at embarkation and disembarkation of the vessels, which may cause delays. However, Flag State administrations require that vessels reduce the number of passengers onboard vessels to mitigate COVID-19 risks and aid social distancing, which in turn will help with embarkation and disembarkation times.

“All stakeholders benefit from the visibility that Restart provides. The Safeguard badge demonstrates an operator has addressed health, safety and hygiene requirements, has properly implemented necessary procedures, has trained the crew and all employees on board and has well agreed procedures with ports and terminals,” concluded Ullrich.

Meanwhile, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) launched its ‘Restart Risk Model’ to assess the high-risk areas of potential COVID-19 transmission onboard as well as onshore work-places, and provide clear procedures for crew to mitigate these. DNV GL too launched its infection prevention notification, for the maritime industry, specifically (CIP-M). The notation was originally designed to reduce infections spread within hospitals and prescribes protocols and procedures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 onboard vessels. These include the use of PPE, social distancing measures, and more regular cleaning and disinfecting onboard. Genting Cruise liner, Explorer Dream, is currently working towards obtaining the CIP-M notification.