Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) pledged S$1.5 million to cover seafarers’ accommodation and meal costs during their stay at The Seacare Hotel while waiting for crew change procedures to be finalised. The move has received positive receptions from the stakeholders—The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA)—and crew in the maritime industry.
SSA’s Executive Director Michael Phoon applauded, “This act of solidarity is a testament to their commitment to support maritime companies and enhance the well-being of seafarers amid these challenging times. Knowing that there is a safe haven for crew in between vessel calls and flights will boost the confidence for crew change here. To ensure the continuation of smooth and safe crew change in the port of Singapore, we strongly encourage all relevant parties–shipping companies, agents and crew–to do their dutiful part and comply with all stipulated requirements.”
To fight against COVID-19 pandemic, not only did The Seacare Hotel open its door to exclusively house seafarers in transit, SOS came onboard to pledge S$1.5m to defray the crew’s accommodation and meals at the hotel. The initiative has garnered positive response from the maritime industry.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) expresses our deep appreciation to SOS for coming forward to provide a holding facility for crew change in Singapore. The Seacare Hotel holding facility provides a safe environment for seafarers to stay while waiting to go onboard the vessel or to their flight. It allows crew changes to take place in spite of the limited air connectivity. The MPA will continue to work closely with the industry and unions to review our processes to facilitate crew change through a ‘safe corridor’ so that crew change is carried out in a safe environment.
The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) applauds the initiative by SOS to help defray the cost of accommodation and meals for seafarers staying in The Seacare Hotel. This act of solidarity is a testament to their commitment to support maritime companies and enhance the well-being of seafarers amid these challenging times. Knowing that there is a safe haven for crew in between vessel calls and flights will boost the confidence for crew change here. To ensure the continuation of smooth and safe crew change in the port of Singapore, we strongly encourage all relevant parties–shipping companies, agents and crew–to do their dutiful part and comply with all stipulated requirements.
– Mr Michael Phoon, SSA Executive Director
Mr Phoon also pointed out to Samudra that without seafarers, ships cannot operate and deliver goods necessary for every part of our economy.
“First and foremost this is a humanitarian crisis that must be solved in order to protect seafarers who have been on ships for far too long. But the urgent need to solve this crisis also extends ashore,” he added.
“On the backdrop of a nationwide policy, the shipping industry has faced challenges in bringing seafarers into a safe ‘land transit’ between signing-on and signing-off their vessels. As one of the two authorised providers for designated holding facilities for seafarers, we are pleased that SOS have opened up The Seacare Hotel to provide additional accommodation for this purpose.”
The Seacare Hotel is also making available demarcated areas, known as the transit lounge, for unanticipated early arrival or late departure of crew who are hotel guests. Shipping companies can book six-hourly blocks for their crew to wait in a cosy environment and have meals and free-flow beverages provided by SOS.
Jerryco Sain De Lima, Ordinary Seaman who served onboard a Hong Kong-registered Container Ship, had his nine months contract extended by another three months. He could not sign off because of the pandemic.
“I am happy to go home,” he shared, “because I have not seen my family for almost a year. I miss my wife and two boys aged five and two years. I am thankful that there’s a holding facility that is clean, safe and there’s nice ‘chow chow’* during my short stay before catching my flight home.”
To stay positive, he watched movies and participated in activities organised by his shipping company. He also regularly stayed in touch with his family through Messenger, as the ship had WiFi.
* English-Chinese pidgin term “chow chow,” also means “food.”
One Yang Peng, a cook, whose hometown is in Shandong; he left for Shanghai from Singapore after a night’s stay at The Seacare Hotel. He highlighted, “For the safety and welfare of our fellow seafarers onboard, we were united in following all the rules and precautions prescribed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Before reiterating that, “Though we had to stay onboard as countries went on lockdown, we tried to focus on doing our job and stay positive. I am just glad that all of us are safe and will be going back to be with our family.”