Crew turnover can be tough and your flag may add more complications and requirements but generally:
- The Captain
is ultimately responsible for the discharge and repatriation of crew.
- Every Captain I know takes the crew members passport as security
that they won't jump ship. Maritime Law seems to confirm that and I know of very few crew who have objected - and they've been canned on the spot.
- In most cases, the Captain is responsible for returning the crew member to either their home country or point of hire. If your crew's B1/B2/visa has run out, it can get _very_ expensive.
- With crew off the manifest and soon to be off the boat, your responsibility as Captain isn't over. It ends when your former crew member is either legally admitted to their current
country or is on a plane/boat out. If your crew's B1/B2/visa's expired for the country you're sending them to, they won't be admitted and you're on the dime for another ticket.
- We all inform Customs
and Immigration of the discharge of a crew member. This is so that we won't get fined, imprisoned, or have the vessel impounded. I have had Immigration over for coffee as I finalized the paperwork on a particularly nasty crew discharge. The Immigration Officer impounded the passport and personally escorted the crew member to the airport
- We buy them a one-way ticket, refundable, to their destination
. No cash for the bus or train as there's no record
of your purchase
. If they bail or "miss" the flight/boat then we can recover the cost of the ticket - after informing Immigration and Police that our former crew member missed the way out.
- We pay them off in cash as that's what they demand.
When we consider bring on new crew:
- we tell them they _will_ surrender their passport to the Captain, which we lock in a safe place
- we have them fill out a simple crew agreement indicating their signing on port and the stipulation that if things don't work out, that's where they're going
- we check the passport very carefully making sure it won't expire during the passage
, that all visa's are current
for the destination
, stops along the way, and their hiring port. If they're not then you have the option of doing the leg and paperwork to get them legal
. You will not make friends if a crew member is discharged in a country where s/he has no visa. There are exceptions but that's on a case by case basis. In some cases, captains have had to keep the disgruntled crew member onboard until they reach a port where they can be legally discharged.
- we photocopy the passport and any visas they may have, just in case. There have been reports of crew skipping out of the airport
and later being nabbed by Immigration. That will not sit well with them and you may find yourself in deep trouble if you innocently return.
- we log the crew member discharge in the log book (another reason to keep a legal one) and have the sign off witnessed by another crew member
In 90% of the situations, the departing crew went smoothly and agreeably. It's the other 10% that keeps you up at night. It's your right to ask to see photocopies of passport pages and visa's to make sure that won't be a problem and make sure the crew member understands what'll happen should things go bad, or the trip end pleasantly.
Things happen and most Port Captains and Immigration folk are understanding and can be a very good source of assistance should you be forced into a port where some of your crew can't go ashore. They can be a great asset or your worst nightmare.