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The recent cases of crew arriving in Australia COVID infected on board ships arriving in Australia is of major concern. 25 of the crew on board one vessel have now all returned positive. The crew were nearly all changed over in the Philippines. The Singaporean Maritime Port Authority have introduced new crew change requirements as follows;
The Singapore Maritime Port Authority issued revised crew change requirements today in the form of PMA circular 38. BIMCO gives a short summary of these requirements.
The PMA revised its crew change requirements on 1st September together with the set-up of the Crew Facilitation Center as reported in our news piece of 1st September 2020. After undergoing some weeks of this protocol, the PMA has now issued another circular; PMA 38 superseding PMA 36, revising the crew change requirements to take into account of some practicality issues. For example, a crew member must now obtain a negative COVID-19 test result not more than 72 hours rather than 48 hours prior to departure flight to Singapore as requested earlier. Some guidelines are also issued on the acceptability of a positive PCR test taken of a crew member before he is allowed in as part of the crew change.
BIMCO provides a brief summary of the revised crew change requirements:
Signing-on crew requirements as follows:
(BIMCO hint: a quick way to check the latest list - go to MOH's FAQ section and click on 'H - Border Measures and Changes to Stay-Home-Notice requirements' and find the latest measures for inbound travellers)
Signing-off crew requirements as follows:
Sign-on and sign-off crew may stay at designated holding facilities for up to 72 hours. Ship owners/managers/agents must apply for crew change in Singapore, at least 14 days before the planned crew change, by filling up the online form atwww.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home/port-ofsingapore/operations/crew-change or scan the QR Code embedded in the said circular.
BIMCO is continuously monitoring COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on the shipping industry in particular on crew changes.”
Source website; BIMCO; https://www.bimco.org//sitecore/content/bimco/home/news/ports/20200922-singapore-revises-further-crew-change-requirements.aspx (accessed 19th October 2020)
The Philippines has hopes to establish itself as the “Crew Change Capital of the world” 1, but it appears that the measures are not enough or not being adhered to adequately. A more detailed guideline may be found on the following link; https://safety4sea.com/philippines-launches-guidelines-to-ease-crew-change/
Seafarers are the most vital asset for any ship owner. The health and wellbeing of the crew must be realized by ship-owners. The Covid virus has seen many seafarers stuck in limbo globally. The protocols of the Maritime Authorities must be adhered to strictly. Agencies and authorities that bend these rules must be held account for their actions.
With Singapore’s strict enforcement on crew change and potentially the banning of ships in Australia with crew change based in the Philippines, ship owners must weigh up the costs for ship delays and crew health over quick and cheaper options.
1; website splash 24.com; https://splash247.com/philippines-positions-itself-as-the-crew-change-capital-of-the-world/#:~:text=The%20Philippines%20is%20trying%20to,to%20become%20crew%20change%20locations. (accessed 19th October 2020)
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