Singapore Bans Crew Changes


Published Mar 24, 2020 8:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) has extended its COVID-19 precautionary measures to include a ban on crew changes. The MPA also urges all crew members onboard to have their temperature taken twice daily. 

With the application of the additional precautionary measures, crew and passengers on short-term visits will not be allowed to disembark in Singapore. 

The MPA has implemented temperature screening at all sea checkpoints, including ferry and cruise terminals, PSA terminals and Jurong Port, for inbound travellers since January 24. Singapore ceased port calls for all cruise vessels from March 13.

The latest measures come as additional precautionary measures were announced by the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH). From March 23, 2359 hours, all short-term visitors, from anywhere in the world, will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.  

The Port of Singapore remains open for cargo operations and marine services, including shipyard repairs. 

Marine Pilots in Malaysia

Malaysia has also taken action to restrict crew movement. It has instituted quarantine for cargo ships arriving from a number of countries including China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran and the U.S. Crew members are not allowed ashore. Port related operations have been classified as an essential services by the government of Malaysia, and Captain Martin Lim, President and Chairman of Maritime Pilots Malaysia (MPM), says there are no major delays to cargo operations despite the Movement Control Ordinance (MCO) announced by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Maritime Security Guards

Maritime intelligence company Dryad Global warns of impacts to security personnel as a result of the ever-widening global lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19. The situation for embarking armed security reams is currently in-flux, says the company. To illustrate, Sri Lanka recently imposed restrictions that would have prevented disembarkation and movements of personnel at Galle. However, these restrictions were then relaxed following industry lobbying.

“Beyond the risks of infection, for vessels with embarked armed personnel, there are very real commercial risks to embarking armed security teams at this time,” states Dryad. “States are increasingly seeking to restrict movement in an out of their borders. Consequently, there is a growing risk that vessels with embarked security personnel will be unable to offload guards and be incapable of fulfilling their commercial schedule. 

“Restrictions placed on international travel in many key countries mean that only guards currently ‘in circulation’ are available to be placed onto vessels, as no fresh crews can be brought in. The operational impact on extended crew deployments is not yet fully understood. However, fatigue caused by insufficient rest among embarked security teams could over time lead to reduced operational effectiveness.”

RMI Call

Meanwhile the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), one of the world’s largest maritime registries with more than 4,700 vessels and nearly 100,000 seafarers serving on RMI-flagged vessels, encourages countries to recognize and protect seafarers. The RMI Registry urges governments to recognize the contribution of seafarers towards keeping vital supply chains open, and to devise plans to allow them to board a designated ship and to be repatriated at the end of their contracts.