The annual Day of the Seafarer pays tribute to seafarers and acknowledges the contributions they have been making in maintaining the flow of goods. During this trying time of COVID-19 pandemic, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) recognises the challenges seafarers face and has been working with the industry, unions and seafarer missions to address their needs, wherever possible.
MPA has been facilitating an increasing number of crew change requests for seafarers. This is being done in a controlled and regulated environment through a ‘safe corridor’ to minimise any risk to public health within Singapore as well as to the shipping community. Since 27 March 2020, MPA has approved more than 13,000 cases of crew sign-ons and sign-offs involving some 650 companies and 1150 ships. These ships comprise 42% tankers, 23% bulk carriers, 22% container ships, and the remaining of other ship types. MPA also continues to facilitate requests from vessels requiring medical care for seafarers. Since the pandemic, MPA has facilitated some 100 cases of seafarers requiring medical attention ashore to date.
Day of the Seafarer
As we celebrate the Day of the Seafarer, we constantly look at innovative ways through technology and digitalisation to engage our seafarers, and encourage local companies to tap on such opportunities. 3D-printed face shield is one such innovation. MPA, the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS), and Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) prepared 1,000 care packs for ships in the Port of Singapore, reaching out to some 10,000 seafarers. Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Dr Lam Pin Min, Chief Executive of MPA Ms Quah Ley Hoon, General Secretary of SMOU Ms Mary Liew, President of SOS Mr Kam Soon Huat, and President of SSA Ms Caroline Yang, presented the care packs to signing-on seafarers at Marina South Pier today. Dr Lam, Ms Quah and the senior union/industry representatives also presented 3D-printed face shields to signing-off seafarers for their additional protection when wearing a mask during the journey home. These face shields were manufactured by a local start-up, Siege Advanced Manufacturing.
Those present also witnessed the delivery of care packs to a PIL vessel, ‘Kota Nasrat’, using a drone. This shore to ship delivery was conducted by another local start-up ‘F-Drones’ and demonstrates the use of new technologies to enhance safety and efficiency of deliveries traditionally performed by small launches or boats.
MPA has also accepted the use of tele-medicine consultation since 18 June, for a doctor to assess if the crew is fit-to-travel for the purpose of crew signing off in Singapore. Instead of arranging doctors to go onboard, clinical assessment can be done via real-time video using end-point devices. Those present observed the process of tele-medicine consultation and how the fit-to-fly certificate is being issued.
In addition, Dr Lam presented MPA’s contribution of S$200,000 to seafarer missions in a ceremony to Mr Vitalii Chaika, Honorary Secretary, Management Committee of the Mission to Seafarers Singapore. This grant will be distributed to the Norwegian Seamen’s Mission, the Danish Seamen’s Church, and the International Lutheran Seafarers’ mission, which support the work of the missions including counselling services and pastoral care, ship visitations and on-demand transportation for seafarers. This is part of MPA’s annual contribution to support the work of various seafarers’ missions. As announced in the MaritimeSG Together Package on 29 April, MPA is providing a one-off increase of S$50,000 to its annual contribution of S$150,000 to the seafarer missions.
“During this pandemic, seafarers have been working tirelessly to keep our ports open and cargoes flowing. Today, we join the international maritime community to celebrate this important Day of the Seafarer and thank our seafarers for their contributions. Through facilitating crew changes, financial contribution to seafarers’ mission, as well as the adoption of new technology such as 3D printing, drones and tele-medical consultation, Singapore is glad to play our part to bring some relief to seafarers calling at our shores,” said Dr Lam.