The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has caused significant concern and has been shown not to be a local problem for this terrible disease. The worst-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria all have substantial ports with shipping being the main method of import/export of goods.

As such, just as with the civil aviation industry, the marine industry has had to adapt to a threat that has ramifications far beyond the obvious risks to crew members of Ebola, but includes quarantine of the vessel, ports declining to allow entry and the crew not being allowed to travel freely by authorities. This combined with the logistical challenges and that few countries have existing infrastructure to handle a potential outbreak create a complex risk for operators. There is the further issue as to where a loss would fall in the event of a vessel being quarantined and whether (and for how long) she would be off-hire.

The International Group of P&I Clubs as well as the fixed premium P&I and Charterers insurers have been issuing circulars to their members with advice on how to manage a potential outbreak. We would recommend that any operators calling at ports in the affected region contact their Clubs for advice in advance to mitigate the risks to crew. Please contact us to learn more or receive Club circulars on this important issue.