New Delhi:

The shipping ministry on Tuesday said it has facilitated change of more than one lakh crew members at Indian ports and through chartered flights amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya lauded the efforts to help stranded seafarers during the pandemic and called for having a robust grievance redressal mechanism for seafarers.

"Ministry of Shipping has facilitated more than 1,00,000 crew changes on Indian ports and through charter flights. It is the highest number of crew change in the world," the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement.

Crew change consists of replacing one set of a ship's crew members with another set of people and involves sign-on and sign-off procedures.

Despite the maritime sector being one of the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the statement said that all the Indian ports were operational and were providing essential services throughout the pandemic. They stood as main pillars ensuring smooth supply chain for India and the world, it added.

Seafarers were impacted due to closing of sign on & sign off in ships, and lockdowns and movement restrictions imposed by the various countries worldwide, the statement said.

The Shipping Minister appreciated the continued efforts done by the Director General of Shipping, especially for facilitating the stranded seafarers crew change during this difficult time.

The minister strongly emphasised the need to ensure that seafarers should be able to approach the ministry during the difficult time and no seafarer should suffer due to poor grievance redress system, the statement said.

To sustain the maritime transportation during the pandemic situation, DG Shipping had taken various initiatives like extensions of certificates required for sailing and online e-pass facility for travel.

"An online utility has been created for verification of seafarers for charted flights and for uploading details of stranded seafarers along with online ship registrations and online charter licensing." DG, Shipping Amit Kumar said.

As per the statement, DG Shipping had received communications via emails, tweets, and letters from more than 2,000 maritime stakeholders and took immediate responsive action to facilitate their needs.

E-learning for module courses and online virtual course have also been conducted by DG Shipping and more than 35,000 students enrolled for e-learning, it said.

Besides, online Exit Exam is being conducted for seafarers after completing online courses and they can now appear for the exam from the comfort of their homes in this unprecedented time of the pandemic, the statement said.