Singapore has approved more than 4,000 cases of crew change to-date during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a move made possible with collaboration between the local authorities and industry players.
Since 27 March, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has approved more than 4,000 cases of crew sign-on and sign-off for over 300 companies involving some 500 ships including tankers, bulk carriers, containerships and offshore vessels.
MPA recognises the importance of seafarers and crew change to safeguard the health and safety of seafarers, that and global shipping needs to continue to operate 24/7 to bring food and essential goods around the world.
Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of MPA, said, “There is a global need for large numbers of crew changes to take place. We have seen a sharp increase in the daily crew change applications since our last Port Marine Circular (PMC).
“As a major port state, Singapore has a responsibility to facilitate crew change in a safe manner for both the country and the ships, given the ongoing pandemic. We are also heartened to receive kind notes of appreciation from seafarers and companies whose crew we have made a difference,” she said.
MPA has been working closely with other government agencies, unions, and the shipping industry to facilitate and support crew change. An industry taskforce led by the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) in partnership with Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) recently published the Singapore Crew Change Guidebook. The guidebook details a set of procedures for a ‘safe corridor’ which allows crew change to be carried out in a safe environment to minimise any local public health risk and to the shipping community.
Last Friday, MPA, together with agencies including the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, as well as shipping companies, facilitated a second chartered flight for crew change. 54 crew members onboard a flight from Mumbai, India will join six ships at the port of Singapore. 87 crew members will take the same flight back to Mumbai.
Executive Ship Management (ESM) has helped to charter the maiden direct flight carrying Indian seafarers.
Two more chartered flights for crew change are scheduled to take place this week.
ESM initiated the chartered flight project from India to Singapore and offered the opportunity to nine other ship managers for their crew changes in Singapore.
B.S. Teeka, CEO of the Executive Group of companies, of which Executive Ship Management (ESM) is a member, said, “It’s a time to unite and share our resources to add value to our ship owners and other stakeholders so that we can find a working solution to the vexed problem of crew change during this challenging time.”
Chairman, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Esben Poulsson, said, “The shipping industry is obviously encouraged by the increasing number of crew changes taking place in Singapore, and we are appreciative of the great efforts made by the MPA and other agencies to bring this about. Given the enormous global scale of the problem, let alone the serious implications of governments not dealing with crew change as a matter of the greatest urgency, we hope that Singapore will continue to take a leading role and at the same time continue to work with the industry to review the protocols.”
MPA said it will continue to review the crew change procedures taking into account Singapore’s circumstances and the global situation.