At the opening of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) International Safety at Sea webinar series yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport, Mr Chee Hong Tat said that, “Singapore will continue to do our part to facilitate crew change safely. It is the right thing to do and we will do it right. We work very closely with industry associations, unions, maritime companies and international organisations to implement a safe crew change protocol.”
Mr Chee added that Singapore will be moving to phase two of its crew facilitation centre (CFC). The CFC in Singapore is being promoted by the MPA as a “centre of excellence” for crew change protocols to test emerging technologies that support safer crew change procedures. The MPA said these procedures will be published so as to share Singapore’s practices with other ports.
Following Singapore’s experience in operating the CFC, a crew safety audit programme has been developed to assist crew source nations with pre-departure protocols at medical and holding facilities. This is an initiative under the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) fund that was launched to “support best practices” amongst seafaring nations in promoting safe crew change. The MPA said it would also reach out to members of the Port Authorities Roundtable to encourage them to join these efforts. This aims to ensure consistent safety standards for crew change across ports, and to increase the confidence of countries in conducting crew change.
A taskforce led by the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), comprising members from the MPA, Singapore Maritime Officer’s Union and the Singapore Organisation of Seamen, has also been formed to work with stakeholders in the maritime industry on solutions for safe crew change under the SG-STAR Fund. The taskforce has shortlisted two digital solutions companies – KaHa and Viatick – under a trial programme to provide wearables digital solutions that support overseas crew change processes such as quarantine and health monitoring. Both solutions are claimed to be tamper-proof, smart wearable technologies, where companies, “can have better assurance in ensuring that seafarers had adhered to their quarantine requirements in their home country before leaving for Singapore for crew change.” To date, seven companies have confirmed their participation for the trial.
At the event, Mr Chee also announced the launch of phase one of GeoSpace-Sea, Singapore’s national marine spatial data infrastructure, designed to integrate and share marine and coastal spatial data and information from various sources and disciplines, creating the first-ever comprehensive picture of Singapore’s sea space. The GeoSpace-Sea web portal will be accessible by participating government agencies in Singapore for a start. Subsequently, GeoSpace-Sea will be made available to more users from the public including academia, research institutions and industry so that end-user applications can be built using its data. GeoSpace-Sea was built to support and enable solutions to tackle complex problems and future challenges in areas such as maritime safety, marine coastal spatial planning, climate change and environmental sustainability.
The MPA said the International Safety at Sea event welcomed 600 participants from over 60 countries at the first day of the event, centred around the theme “Maritime Safety: New Normal, New Paradigms”. Speakers included Dr Heike Deggim, Director of Maritime Safety at the International Maritime Organisation, Mr Esben Poulsson, Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, Dr Cao Desheng, Director General, China Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) and Mr Li Hongyin, Deputy Director General, CHINA MSA. Mr Ishak Ismail, Chairman of the National Maritime Safety at Sea Council, Singapore, moderated a panel discussion at the event.
Dr Deggim discussed how the Covid-19 pandemic has fostered increased cooperation and collaboration between IMO member governments and accelerated the use of “new and innovative” technology in the shipping industry. Mr Poulsson, in his presentation, emphasised the importance of seafarers in the shipping industry and their contribution to facilitating global trade and improving global living standards. Dr Cao spoke about how the maritime community should address issues on topics such as global maritime governance, shipping sustainable development and maritime safety together.