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COVID & Off-hire - Pilot's refusal to have his body temp. measured

Most onboard COVID-19 protocols require the seafarers to implement certain measures before allowing 3rd parties onboard. One of the measures is measuring their body temperature. What if this 3rd party is a ship pilot who refuses to comply with the request? Can the ship be put off-hire for the time lost? That was the question before the Tribunal in London Arbitration 4/22.

What happened was that the crew took the temperature of the 3 pilots using a infrared thermometer (which was meant for measuring high temperatures of machinery in engine room) and the result was in excess of 37.5 deg C. The crew then requested the pilots to have their temperature taken again with a mercury thermometer for confirmation. The pilots refused and disembarked. Charterers put the vessel off-hire by reason of ‘default of crew’ and/or ‘failure to follow charterer’s orders’. Owners said that the Master had an overriding responsibility in respect of safety.


The Tribunal said that although the steps taken by crew “reflected a genuine concern as to the risk of coronavirus” and there was no default of the crew, but they could have used a more appropriate thermometer and dealt with the pilots in a more effective way. This was a shortcoming on the part of the crew and their owners and was interpreted as failure -- (a) to follow the legitimate orders of the charterers, and (b) to prosecute the voyage with due despatch. Charterers were CORRECT in putting the vessel off-hire.


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