Crew-change challenge remains while industry pushes for global seafarer vaccination programme
Crew change remains a top challenge
in the industry according to the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), while
both industry and authorities are pushing for a global vaccination programme
Singapore rolled out protocols for
crew change in June 2020, and this year has prioritised workers in the maritime
sector, including seafarers working in port waters, for vaccinations.
Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of the
Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said: “Thus far we have facilitated
more 120,000 crew changes in Singapore, and we have vaccinated more than 27,000
port and onshore marine personnel.
“On seafarers we’ve made a call right
upfront to vaccinate our onshore maritime personnel as well as our local
However, while Singapore has been
able to vaccinate seafarers working locally in the port, prioritising the
vaccination of the global seafaring workforce is another much larger,
“We have been working with the IMO to
encourage member states to prioritise and vaccinate their seafarers,” Quah
said. However, this remains a call for each individual country to make.
“We’re working on a global level to
see how we can get this momentum going for a global programme to vaccinate
seafarers. We are looking at some sort of global allocation of vaccines,” she
For the industry crew change remains
a major challenge despite the protocols developed by various countries.
“For the maritime sector the most
important is crew change, something we’re still challenged with,” Caroline
Yang, President of Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) told a media briefing
organised by the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) ahead of
Singapore Maritime Week 2021.
“Covid-19 was really not easy for
crew change. I will tell you the cost is just so mindboggling, but we decided
we needed to do it. We needed to make sure the crew goes home, we needed to
make sure the ship needed to move.”
For example, an airfare instead of
being $300 could be $3,000 per person if it was a charter flight rather than
scheduled and then there are quarantine costs.
Elaborating on the current situation
SSA’s Yang said: “I am of the view Singapore is the safest place, with other
countries there some leaks along the way…where we don’t have very accurate test
results, so it’s still a challenge in some other countries.
“But Singapore also has its
challenges because it’s very strict on its protocols so sometimes we also feel
it’s easier to do crew change in other countries. But every country has its
For Singapore the requirement of PCR
test from the last port of call before calling Singapore can be challenge. Yang
said while she understood the rationale it could be difficult to arrange a PCR
test in the last port of call.