Filipino seafarers banned from ships sailing through Red Sea

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Photo by Maxime Felder.
  • The Department of Migrant Workers banned the deployment of Filipino seafarers onboard passenger and cruise ships set to sail through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden
  • The move comes after recent amendments to the International Transport Workers’ Federation and International Bargaining Forum list of “High-Risk Areas” and “War-like Zones”, which now includes the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden
  • Under Department Order No. 2, licensed manning agencies must sign an “affirmation letter” guaranteeing the vessels their seafarers board will not navigate the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) banned the deployment of Filipino seafarers onboard passenger and cruise ships set to sail through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The move comes after recent amendments to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and International Bargaining Forum (IBF) list of “High-Risk Areas” (HRA) and “War-like Zones”, which now includes the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

DMW Department Order (DO) No. 2 (series of 2024) also comes from collective discussions during last month’s meeting between the DMW and the Philippine Maritime Industry Tripartite Council (MITC). The DMW and MITC agreed to underscore the urgent need for stricter protocols to ensure the safety of Filipino seafarers navigating the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Under DO No. 2, licensed manning agencies (LMAs) must sign an “affirmation letter” guaranteeing the vessels their seafarers board will not navigate the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden.

This commitment, along with the vessel’s detailed itinerary, must be submitted to the DMW during the documentation of crew employment contracts or before their deployment.

Filipino seafarers listed as crew members onboard the vessels must also sign the affirmation letter acknowledging their vessel will not enter the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden.

The affirmation letter executed by the LMAs with the seafarers’ consent must be uploaded to the DMW’s Online Processing System for Sea-based (DOPS-Sea) together with the processed Standard Employment Contract. DMW said this stringent measure ensures a transparent process, fostering accountability and compliance with the new safety protocols.

DMW said it “remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding the well-being of Filipino seafarers.”

“These measures reflect the DMW’s dedication to ensuring safe working conditions and protecting our seafaring workforce,” it added.

DO No. 2 does not cover seafarers on cargo ships but they have the right to refuse sailing onboard ships that navigate at areas designated an HRA.

Since late last year, Houthi militant rebels have attacked commercial vessels plying the Red Sea with the goal of ending Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip triggered by the October 7 attack in southern Israel of Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The attacks have forced various shipping companies to suspend ship traffic through the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden, a major shipping route, and have been diverting some of their vessels to a longer journey through Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

Last March 6, a Houthi-launched missile strike on M/V True Confidence off the Yemeni Coast resulted in the death of two Filipino crew members.