The Samoan company has approved 60 local qualified sailors eligible for employment with the MSC fleet.
The departure dates remain subject to flights availability amidst COVID-19 restrictions.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Shipping Services, Lautimuia Afoa Uelese Vaai confirmed the number while speaking with Savali reporters Tuesday.
He said over 80 applied, unfortunately, the 60 approved are the only sailors on island with valid U.S Visas for travel.
The processing of Visas for employment with MSC are processed via the U.S. Embassy in NZ, and COVID-19 restrictions will make it difficult to process the entry visas.
Meanwhile, the Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Samoa Shipping Services has begun negotiations to map out a plan for the remaining number of sailors without a Visa.
Lautimuia said the negotiations are at its beginning stages.
The sailors though have extended their thanks to the Government for the opportunities provided.
“It’s always good to be home, but to be working and given the opportunity to work, is something I’ve been hoping for,” said Falaniko Seleni Filipo, 34, of Si’usega and Alamagoto.
“I understand at this point with COVID-19, we have to be very careful. The Prime Minister really has reached out with his visit to encourage us sailors preparing to ship out. So we are ensured that a whole new step higher in security procedures are being followed,” he said.
Fa’agagalo Samuelu, 24 of Sa’anapu has called the opportunity an open door.
“I’ve just been roaming around and not do much, haven’t made any money for my family, but thankfully the Government has been actively looking for these opportunities,” he said.
“I wish to convey a heartfelt sense of gratitude towards the Government of Samoa and SSS, for always pursuing these opportunities for us sailors locally. I know things aren’t ideal at this point in time with the disease, but they’ve continued to look out for us sailors,” he added.
The 60 approved have yet to be set a date for their departure.
The SSS will be in close communications with NEOC and MFAT regarding flights that would initially ship out the selected few in groups.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi met with a group of local sailors last week.
In his address, he reassured the sailors that the Government is actively scouring the market for opportunities for sailors in Samoa to work abroad.
Photo SSS file