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SG port 3.JPG Photo: Lee Hong Liang

Singapore beefs up safety measures for crew change

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has announced enhanced safety measures in Singapore port amid the ongoing risks of importing coronavirus (COVID-19) cases into the country.

Singapore has seen three cases within one week, where crew members scheduled to sign-on to ocean-going cargo ships were found to be COVID-19 positive upon arrival. This has prevented the shipping companies concerned from conducting successful crew changes.

MPA said it is now working with the industry taskforce to provide more detailed guidelines on the ‘safe-corridor’ procedures to safeguard the crew change process including the need to self-isolate while serving the 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN), to ensure accurate COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, and direct transfers from airport to ship for the crew while in Singapore to minimise contact.

“Given the increasing number of crew change applications, MPA will also need to prioritise new crew change applications. These will include crew with expiry of contracts which flag states are not extending further, Singapore-registered ships, and crew sign-offs,” MPA said.

“MPA would like to urge the industry – shipowners, managers and agents – to play its part to carry out safe crew changes. As there have been some instances of procedural breaches leading up to performing crew changes in Singapore, MPA has recently reminded shipowners, managers and agents to adhere strictly to the ‘safe-corridor’ procedures including ensuring accurate COVID-19 tests and compliance to self-isolation while serving SHN,” the port authority stated.

In the event that a crew member is found positive with the virus whilst in Singapore, crew changes will be suspended for a “stipulated period” to allow the company sufficient time to review its internal processes to ensure strict adherence to the ‘safe-corridor’ crew change procedures, MPA said.

In July, Singapore has been facilitating an average of about 300 cases of crew change per day through the ‘safe corridor’ procedures as detailed in the Singapore Crew Change Guidebook. This Guidebook was developed by an industry taskforce led by the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), in partnership with the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union and supported by MPA.

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