The Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) will set aside USD1 million to help cover the costs of accommodation and meals for seafarers staying at a hotel designated for crew change.
The 101-room Seacare Hotel was selected by the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore to accommodate crew unable to sign on to a vessel or be transferred immediately to a flight home. The hotel will serve as a temporary rest area for up to 48 hours and will start lodging crew members from 2 July.
Shipping companies that participate in the Seacare Sailors’ Home Scheme (SSS), a scheme that provides accommodation services for SOS members, will be able to redeem full board accommodation at the hotel using e-vouchers. For companies that are not part of the SSS but have seafarers staying at the hotel, the SOS will cover three meals a day for them during their stay.
The travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19 have hampered crew changes around the world; there are an estimated 200,000 seafarers stranded at sea or at home. Other countries have launched similar initiatives to help ease the burden. An Indian hotel chain, FabHotels, has teamed up the International Seafarers and Assistance Network to provide discounted hotel room prices for seafarers seeking accommodation during the pandemic.
In the UK several charities have launched emergency funds to help seafarers and their families who have been financially impacted by the crew change restrictions. Seafarers UK launched a USD2.5 million fund and the International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarer’s Trust made available welfare services and USD1.2 million for grants.
The Seacare Hotel is owned by a co-operative founded by the SOS.