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MPA and partners step up crew change initiative

Kotor, Montenegro - September 18, 2013: A deckhand at work during the docking of the cruise ship Azamara Quest in Kotor, Montenegro.
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The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) have jointly contributed $500,000 to the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund to support countries that adopt best practices for crew change, according to the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

This adds to the S$1 million SG-STAR Fund established by the MPA, Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), and Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS). The total fund now amounts to S$1.68 million ($1.2 million).

Furthemore, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) will also lend support to the SG-STAR Fund including technical expertise in shipping. With the contribution and support by ITF, IMEC and ICS, the SG-STAR Fund is the first global tripartite initiative bringing together like-minded international partners from the industry, unions and government to facilitate safe crew changes, the MPA said.

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said the SG-STAR Fund has the potential to support practical solutions to reduce the severity of the crew change crisis for the world’s 1.4 million seafarers.

“For over six months, the crew change crisis has seen hundreds of thousands of seafarers either trapped on ships or unemployed at home, desperate to get to work. For the world’s seafarers, they need practical solutions now, not tomorrow, to end this humanitarian crisis and get seafarers to and from ships in a safe manner.

“This joint initiative, working with tripartite partners to promote practical solutions to the crew change crisis, will be key to breaking the current deadlock.

“We need to see progress especially on ways seafarers can show authorities and employers their negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test results from verified medical institutions, so that quarantine times can be reduced on board and while waiting to join vessels,” said Stephen Cotton.

IMEC Chairman, Capt. Belal Ahmed also commented: “The crew change crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought various maritime players to work together more closely than ever before.

“IMEC has participated and contributed to both global and Singapore based discussions aimed at finding solutions and providing guidance as the crisis evolved. We are pleased to join the SG-STAR Fund and hope bring our expertise to help find solutions to this crisis.

“I am confident this determined partnership will lead the way to practical approaches to a crisis that is expected to stay with us for months to come.”

Guy Platten, Secretary General of the ICS, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is unfairly trapping seafarers. This initiative is exactly the type of project needed to resolve the crew change crisis.”

Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of International Maritime Organization, said: “This is a commendable global initiative bringing together the collective efforts of governments, the shipping industry and maritime unions to take concrete steps to address the urgent issue of crew change.”

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