MS Amsterdam awaiting permission to dock at Port of Durban
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Durban - A cruise ship carrying no passengers is waiting for permission to dock in the Port of Durban to refuel and restock. The MS Amsterdam arrived outside the port on Sunday, but has not yet received clearance from the port health unit of the national Department of Health.
The ship started a four-month global voyage at Port Everglades in Florida in the US on January 4.
However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak and worldwide restrictions, the cruise was forced to end prematurely in Fremantle, Australia, on March 22. The ship is now on its return voyage to Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
Deputy Harbour Master at the Port of Durban, Captain Justin Adams, said the clearance the ship was waiting for was a declaration of “free pratique”, which is a clean bill of health from the port health unit.
Adams said even before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was standard procedure for all foreign vessels entering the ports to receive “free pratique”.
“There are no passengers aboard, as all passengers disembarked and returned home earlier in the
“Should there be any South African crew members, they will only be permitted to disembark once the ship has been granted clearance and it has been confirmed that there are no Covid-19 cases on board,” he said in a statement issued by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).
The TNPA said the vessel’s master would need to declare before docking in the port whether there were any persons aboard showing signs of illness.
If illness was reported, a doctor would need to board the ship to take swabs from the sick person, and those would be sent to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) laboratory for testing.
Once the results were received
from the NICD, a decision on the
way forward would be made by the South African Maritime Safety Authority, the Department of Health, the Department of Transport and the TNPA.