Singapore takes the lead in crew changes during pandemic

As a major port state, Singapore has taken the lead to facilitate crew change in a safe manner for both the country and the ships.

Despite the pandemic, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) continues to facilitate the disembarkation of seafarers on medical grounds, for compassionate reasons and for contracts which cannot be further extended. MPA also continues to facilitate medical treatment of seafarers who require emergency attention.

MPA has been working closely with other government agencies, unions, and the shipping industry to facilitate and support crew change.  To date, MPA has approved more than 4,000 cases of crew sign-on and sign-off for over 300 companies since 27 March 2020. The cases involved some 500 ships that include tankers, bulk carriers, container ships and offshore vessels.

“I would like to thank MPA, the Governments of Singapore and India for facilitating this crew change. I hope that more countries will be able to provide such crew change as well,” said Arya Pankaj, Master of STI Carnaby, Focal Shipping Services.

“I am very grateful to be able to sign-off at Singapore through a chartered flight,” said Cpt Manjit Singh Bhasin, Marco Polo Shipping.

On 12 Jun, MPA, together with other government agencies and 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. 

The use of such chartered flights offers a direct passage to facilitate crew changes in a safe and efficient manner during this period. Two more chartered flights for crew change are scheduled to take place this week. 

An industry taskforce recently published the Singapore Crew Change Guidebook which details a set of procedures for crew change to be carried out in a safe environment.

Quah Ley Hoon, MPA’s Chief Executive, 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. 

“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. The Singapore Crew Change Guidebook sets out a “safe corridor” which companies can now use consistently and reliably for crew changes. We understand that shipping companies face immense challenges operating in this pandemic. 

“MPA will continue to work with the industry and unions on creative solutions, one of which is a floating holding facility for crew; we are finalizing the details. We are also heartened to receive kind notes of appreciation from seafarers and companies whose crew we have made a difference.”

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