This BIMCO COVID 19 weekly report for the week ending 4 March covers the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Singapore, Ukraine, Paris MoU, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the latest from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Every week, BIMCO summarises measures imposed by governments for sea transport, including for crew change, as well as updates from United Nations bodies such as the IMO, WHO and the ILO.
The below circulars represent the latest information to-date from the IMO.
- Addendum no. 44 to IMO circular letter No. 4204, issued on 28 February, publishing a joint IMO/ILO/UNCTAD /WHO statement urging continued collaboration to address crew change crisis, safeguard seafarer health and safety, and avoid supply chain disruptions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- Addendum no. 4/Rev. 4 to IMO circular letter No. 4204, issued on 28 February, providing an updated version of the ICS guidance for ship operators for the protection of the health of seafarers.
- Addendum no. 35/rev. 9 and rev.10 issued on 1 and 10 February 2022 respectively provide consolidated lists of the IMO members that have so far notified IMO on their designation of seafarers as key workers. The latest list is shown below with the addition of Maldives and Peru:
- Addendum no. 43 to IMO circular no 4204 "Coronavirus (COVID-19)" issued on 1 November 2021 offering a list of global ports offering vaccinations for seafarers.
2. Government States
The Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has issued a PMC circular no. 3/2022 dated 2 March taking immediate effect on revised crew change requirements.
A summary of the revised and updated requirements as provided below but please read the circular superseding MPC circular no. 39, for full guidance:
Signing-on crew requirements as follows:
- Fully vaccinated crew from specific countries/regions under the Vaccinated Travel Lane may sign-on without serving Stay-Home-Notice (SHN).
- sign-on crew are required to serve SHN in the crew’s originating country/region in the period immediately prior to his/her departure flight/ferry to Singapore. Please refer to the ICA's website for the latest list of countries/regions and their respective SHN period.
- The crew must have a negative result from a COVID-19 test (polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type) taken at a government-approved or ISO 15189-accredited testing facility at his/her originating country not more than 2 days prior to departure for Singapore. For example, if the test is taken on 1 November 2021, it will be valid for departure (for air/sea checkpoints) or arrivals (for land checkpoint) up to 3 November 2021, 2359 hours.
- Alternatively, the crew may produce a negative, professionally administered4 Antigen Rapid Test (ART) result taken within 2 days prior to departure from Category I/II/III/IV countries/regions.
- Fully vaccinated crew is no longer required to be certified fit-to-travel (FTT). This requirement still applies to unvaccinated crew to be certified FTT not more than 24 hours prior to departure for Singapore.
- Unvaccinated crew can only join the ship in Singapore after all high-risk shore-based personnel have completed and disembarked the ship.
- Sign-on crew shall have MPA’s Final No Objection email prior to departure from his/her home country.
- During the entire crew change process, including during the journey to Singapore, the crew should not be in a group of more than five (5) persons, and must remain in the same group.
- Crew that is fully vaccinated and has recovered from COVID-19 ( within 90 days of the last infection) are exempted from all testing and SHH requirements provided appropriate documentary proof is produced. For unvaccinated recently recovered crew, they will be exempted from pre-departure testing requirements but SHH will apply.
Signing-off crew requirements as follows:
- Certified fit-to-travel by doctor in Singapore not more than 24 hours before disembarking the ship; and
- has not gone ashore in the last 7 days before disembarking and has remained well and not had contact with any known or suspected case of COVID-19 throughout that period and has not interacted with shore-based personnel at previous ports of call in the last 7 days ( this has been reduced from 14 days to 7).
- Crew subjected to serology test shall remain onboard until production of a negative COVID-19 serology test result.
- During the entire crew change process, the crew shall not be in a group of more than 5 persons and must remain in the same group.
- All crew shall be transferred directly from the airport/ferry terminal to the vessel/holding facilities/vaccination centre and vice versa without any detour
- Unvaccinated sign-on crew and sign-off crew may stay at the designated holding facilities in Singapore for up to 24 hours. Fully vaccinated however can stay up to 5 days.
- For sign-on crew who had undergone the CrewSafe protocol, the submission of the 7 days ( reduced from 14 days as per this circular ) application can be shortened to 3 days.
- All crew that utilise Marina South Pier (MSP) or West Coast Pier (WCP) shall remain at the designated holding areas while waiting to clear immigration ( paragraphs 7 - 9).
- Precautionary measures for service providers facilitating crew change - please refer to paragraphs 10 -13 for full details, in particular donning of full personal protective equipment (PPE). The requirement to do the 7-day Rostered Routine Testing (RRT), take an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) on the third and fourth day (D3/4) of the 7-day RRT cycle, and be fully vaccinated has been removed.
- Where sign-off crew requires a COVID-19 pre-departure test (PDT) before departing Singapore, note that it is crucial that MPA’s approval is required for the said crew to take the PDT in Singapore as well as their approval required before crew with PTD negative result is allowed to sign off. When MPA’s approval has been given, a medical service provider can carry out the PDT test onboard vessel ( paragraphs 14-16)
- Crew vaccination application has to be submitted 3 days prior to vessel’s arrival in Singapore. Please go to link for the application process.
The Ukrainian government has informed the IMO that due to Russian invasion, all ports in Ukraine are closed and only ships under the flag State of the country are allowed to sail in the territory ( ref: IMO circular letter no. 4518).
In addition to extending the seafarers' certificates and seafarers' identity documents to 31 December 2022 due to the COVID pandemic as reported earlier, the Ukrainian government has now appealed to all IMO member states, shipowners and ship managers to do the following under the Russian invasion of its country for their seafarers ( via IMO circular letter no. 4519) :
- provide maximum assistance to Ukrainian seafarers wishing to be repatriated earlier with no penalties imposed for termination of contracts to Ukraine or to the EU states neighbouring Ukraine as well as the Republic of Moldova:
- to renew their employment contracts if they wish to continue working on the ships,
- remittance of seafarers' salaries by uploading funds on personal cash passport card and providing minimum cash advance in no less than 500 USD for travel allowance; and
- providing Ukrainian seafarers additional opportunities for communication with their relatives, including free access to the internet.
3. Paris MoU
The Paris MoU issued on 2 March 2022, guidance (PSC circular 101) on repatriation of seafarers due to situation in Ukraine, placing emphasis on the need to apply flexibility under such circumstances taking into account of similar experiences gained under COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) issued the following on maritime labour issues and COVID-19:
5. World Health Organization (WHO)
On 21 January 2022, WHO issued an updated global technical brief and priority action required for Member states to enhance readiness for Omicron ( B.1.1.529), of which WHO has given an overview. The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high for a number of reasons (eg significant growth advantage over Delta leading to rapid spread in the community) and continuing to result in significant increases in hospitalisation as well as posing overwhelming demands on health care systems in most countries. The rise is also due to evidence indicating immune evasion causing the quick spread of Omicron and research efforts are ongoing to better understand Omicron’s escape potential against vaccine- and infection induced immunity. A risk-based approach to adjust international travel measures in a timely manner is recommended and efforts to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination coverage as rapidly as possible should continue. See WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant for additional information.
Please see BIMCO-WHO for more information.
6. IMO Crew Change - National Focal Point for Crew Change and Repatriation of Seafarers
According to GISIS today, the list of countries (48) informing the IMO of their national focal point of contact for crew change and repatriation of seafarers are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Ecuador ( new) Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Libya , the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco ( new) Myanmar, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Singapore , Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden,Thailand , Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Vanuatu.
There is no news issued this week.
BIMCO General COVID-19 Links
BIMCO is continuously monitoring COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on the shipping industry in particular on crew changes. Below are some of the type of information currently being provided by BIMCO :
You can also view all information on our COVID-19 landing page.