MANILA – A Japanese mariner’s group on Friday said that about 90 of its member vessels and 900 seafarers will be diverted to the Philippines for crew changes.

In a letter addressed to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the International Mariners Management Association of Japan (IMMAJ) said the figures would result in an average of three vessels per day and 10 seafarers replaced among each of the country’s three crew change hubs — Port of Manila, Port of Capinpin in Orion, Bataan; and Subic Bay Freeport.

“These numbers are subject to change, depending on the situation that may affect a ship’s arrival in Manila Bay,” the letter read.

The letter, signed by IMMAJ Chairman Captain Koichi Akamine, thanked the PPA for opening the Port of Capinpin, noting that the Philippines was one of the few countries in the world that remained open for crew changes.

“This time, you have opened another door by enabling us to use Bataan. We would again appreciate your understanding and cooperation as well as the time and efforts you dedicated to the shipping industry,” the IMMAJ said.

Through the crew change hubs, it said shipping companies will have the opportunity to “efficiently replace seafarers,” enabling the continued operation of many commercial vessels.

On August 28, the Philippines, represented by the Maritime Industry Authority, committed to becoming a major international hub for crew change during the 39th Meeting of the Maritime Transport Working Group of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

According to the Department of Transportation, crew change hubs are ports that have ‘one-stop-shops’ for health screening, customs, immigration, and quarantine facilities to process off-signed and on-signed seafarers–both Filipino and foreign. (PNA)

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