Russian Freighter Changes Out Entire Crew After COVID-19 Infection

A Nornickel vessel under way (file image)

Published Apr 1, 2020 4:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Russian metals producer Nornickel announced Tuesday that an engineer aboard one of its freighters, the Norilskiy Nickel, has tested positive for COVID-19. The company adopted an unusually thorough response: it disembarked the whole crew, sanitized the vessel and embarked a replacement crew. 

During a voyage from Murmansk to Dudinka along Russia's Northern Sea Route, the vessel called in Arkhangelsk. At that port, the engineer received notification that he had traveled in a train with an individual who was possibly infected. He was disembarked and taken to a medical facility for evaluation, and he tested positive for COVID-19. The full crew has also been placed in observation, and Norilsk Nickel said that it is awaiting the results of testing for the other crewmembers. 

On Tuesday, the vessel departed for Dudinka with a replacement crew. 

Nornickel has not yet experienced a COVID-19 outbreak amongst its mining and metal processing workforce at the closed city of Norilsk, nor at the port of Dudinka. At the port, "contacts of coastal services and ship crews are completely excluded, ladders are not allowed to be lowered," Nornickel said in a statement. 

Norilsk Nickel is the world’s largest of palladium and high-grade nickel, and it is also a major producer of platinum and copper.