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04 Sep 2020
4 mins
Maritime Tripartite Partners Streamline Safe Crew Change Processes
Photo Credit: MPA

Seafarers play an important role in keeping global supply chains moving, as they work tirelessly to keep goods flowing around the world.

With the heightened risk of importing COVID-19 cases into Singapore, crew change has been done with caution to ensure the safety of crew, shore personnel and the local community.

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) introduced enhanced measures on 28 August to further secure safe port operations and facilitate crew change.

Enhanced Precautionary Measures in Port of Singapore

To strengthen the safety of port operations, ships that call at the port of Singapore that require shore personnel to board the ship will have to give a prior three-day notice of arrival. Additional measures have also been required of these ships such as disinfecting working areas to prevent potential spread of the virus. These protocols will safeguard workers and the processes that take place daily at our ports.

Crew Facilitation Centre

With the support of PSA Singapore, MPA announced the utilisation of the existing floating accommodation at the Tanjong Pagar Terminal to set up a new Crew Facilitation Centre (CFC). From 1 September, the CFC will be dedicated to sign-on crew, housing them for up to 48 hours prior to them boarding their ships in the event that their ship and flight schedule do not match.

The self-contained facility is equipped with an onsite medical centre, with testing and holding facilities for seafarers to wait for their ships to arrive. The CFC will not only expedite the crew change process in Singapore, but keep the crew and our local community safe.

Floating accommodation Bibby Progress is repurposed into Crew Facilitation Centre for international seafarers to support crew change for ships calling at the Port of Singapore.

In line with current crew change safety measures with isolation protocols in place, seafarers who are due to sign-off and depart from Singapore will be housed at the Seacare Hotel and the POSH Bawean accommodation vessel for up to 48 hours. The entire process will continue to involve segregation from the general community to prevent any potential transmission of virus.

“SMOU, together with our tripartite partners, have been collaborating to overcome the crew change challenges of seafarers since the beginning of the pandemic. With the new initiative of a dedicated crew facilitation centre which will involve segregating crew in the floating accommodation, we will be able to enhance Singapore’s crew change protocol in a safer manner for seafarers and a more sustainable solution for shipping companies. This is the result of a committed tripartite effort in the maritime industry which will assist more seafarers to be reunited with their families back home and at the same time, allow fresh crew to sign on safely so as to provide for their families,” said Ms Mary Liew, General Secretary of SMOU and President of NTUC.

More Streamlined Crew Change Procedures

Streamlined crew-changing procedures are also being introduced such as reduced stay-home notices (SHN) for seafarers from specified low-risk countries who are signing on ships in Singapore. This will expedite relievers and crew movement so that support can be strengthened for manpower on board ships.

The newly introduced infrastructure will enable more seafarers to return home to their families from ships, and for those who have been looking for jobs, to start working on ships again.

SMOU will continue to work with our maritime tripartite partners and the industry to review and improve our crew change procedures, while ensuring that utmost safety of our workers and community is observed.