Singapore eases up on crew change restrictions

Singapore. Credit: Getty Images

Singapore is easing up on its restrictions on crew changes under certain circumstances.

Similar to many other countries, Singapore has suspended crew changes during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, amid a heightened risk of imported cases resulting in increasing infections within the country.

However, on 27 March, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said that exceptions may be made under certain circumstances.

Among some of these reasons are if the crew members have completed their work contract on the ships and no further extension of the contract on board is offered. Crew change may also be permitted if any of the crew members is found to be medically unfit to perform tasks on the vessels.

Compassionate reasons, such as the death of a family member, necessitating the crew member to catch a flight out of Singapore, may also be considered.

Under such special circumstances, shipowners and ship agencies may submit their requests to the MPA for consideration.

Supporting documents, such as work contracts and medical certificates, are needed.

The shipowners and ship agencies must also assure that the seafarers who are signing on and signing off have been in good health in the last 14 days before embarkation or disembarkation, and have not been in contact with a known or suspect case of COVID-19 in those 14 days.

“The MPA recognises that seafarers play a critical role in global seaborne trade. We have worked closely with international organisations, shipping associations, and unions over the years to address the needs and welfare of both local and foreign seafarers. We also hear the feedback from our unions and the industry. We understand that there would be special circumstances where crew will need to disembark or embark,” said an MPA representative in a statement.