Indian seafarers on coastal ships can heave a sigh of relief as the Chennai Port has agreed to grant shore leave to them, provided they adhere to basic protocols of undergoing dual vaccination and wearing masks. The decision was taken after port authorities held a meeting after TNIE on July 10 highlighted the plight of the sailors. Seafarers of foreign vessels, however, would not be granted shore leave.

This also comes after the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) sought a report from the port authorities on the status of grant of shore leave to seafarers in their respective jurisdictions. Shore leave is the period during which a sailor is allowed to take a leave from the ship while the vessel is docked in the port. The period of the leave varies from a couple of hours to a few days, depending on the time the ship is scheduled to be on the port.

The DGS said despite India being a party to the Maritime Labour Convention, some ports were not granting shore leave to seafarers on one pretext or the other.“Denial of shore leave can be extremely detrimental to the mental wellbeing of seafarers and may result in fatigue impacting the safe navigation of vessel,” a letter accessed by TNIE said. “If the shore leave is not being permitted for any reason, then the reason for denial of shore leave may be given,” it added.

A port health official told TNIE that shore leave was granted to sailors provided they adhere to safety protocols. “The master and the ship owners have been asked to monitor those sailors, who have gone on shore leave for two weeks, to ensure they don’t catch any infection,” he said.

Manoj Joy, Community Development Manager, Sailors Society, said shore leave was crucial for seafarers’ mental and physical wellbeing. “As the seafarers’ right to shore leaves is legally recognised, we are hopeful that the ports, too, will take a positive step in this regard,” he said while welcoming the intervention of the Directorate General of Shipping.

Source : maritimegateway