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Singapore establishes Crew Facilitation Centre and safe crew change fund

The Crew Facilitation Centre uses an automatic mass temperature screening system with AI capabilities developed by the MPA
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) enhanced measures to further secure safe port operations and facilitate crew change.

Among these, ships seeking to conduct activities such as repairs, servicing, surveys and inspections which require shore personnel to board the ship must inform the port master at least three days prior to arrival and undertake additional measures including disinfecting working areas in the ship. MPA has also issued a notice to all harbour pilots on additional precautionary measures when conducting pilotage duties on ships.

Crew Facilitation Centre

Singapore has been facilitating crew change for all nationalities from ships of different flags during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MPA is now using its existing floating accommodation to set up a Crew Facilitation Centre at the Tanjong Pagar Terminal. This is a self-contained facility with an onsite medical centre, testing and holding facilities. Dedicated to sign-on crew, the centre will house the crew for up to 48 hours prior to them boarding their ships, if required, when their ship and flight schedule do not match. Crew signing off will proceed to depart Singapore or stay at existing designated holding facilities Seacare Hotel or accommodation vessel POSH Bawean for up to 48 hours, and be strictly segregated from the community.

Streamlined procedures

In line with the risk managed approach taken by Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce, crew members who have stayed at least 14 days from specific low-risk countries/regions to sign on to ships in Singapore will either no longer be required to serve a stay-at-home isolation in the originating country/region or only serve a shorter isolation of seven days prior to departure for Singapore. Crew from other countries/regions will continue to serve an isolation period of 14 days prior to departure.

Shipowners, managers and agents are to ensure the pre-departure COVID-19 PCR tests are carried out at government-approved or ISO 15189-accredited testing facilities.

MPA said it will continue to work with the industry to review crew change procedures to adapt to the fast-changing COVID-19 situation.

Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience Fund

To accelerate the process and propagate best practices for safe crew change, MPA, Singapore Shipping Association, Singapore Maritime Officers' Union and Singapore Organisation of Seamen plan to establish a S$1m Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund to work with stakeholders in seafaring nations on concrete solutions for safe crew changes, such as initiatives on best practices for crew holding facilities and PCR testing centres.

Supported by Kitack Lim, secretary-general of  the International Maritime Organization, and Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labour Organization, Singapore welcomes like-minded international partners to join in this tripartite initiative and contribute to the fund so that actions can be scaled up. More details of the SG-STAR Fund will be released in due course.

Singapore Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung noted it has been a trying time for seafarers, who have been working tirelessly to keep goods flowing around the world while encountering difficulties to call at ports and undergo crew change, severely 'affecting their well-being.

'It is therefore very important for all stakeholders to come together to ensure safe port operations and safe crew changes,' he said. 'This dedicated facility for crew change and the Fund are the results of the collaboration between MPA, industry associations and seafarer unions. As shipping is a global business, we hope that more ports and stakeholders will join us in such initiatives, so that seafarers can continue their work and keep the supply lines of the world open.'