The S$1.68 million SG-STAR Fund Aims to End the Crew Change Crisis and Save 1.4 million Seafarers—Here's How

In brief:

  • In a bid to resolve the crew change crisis, Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS), the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), and Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) established the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund.
  • International bodies like The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) strengthened the cause—both in financial and professional terms.
  • The total amount of the SG-STAR Fund is at S$1.68 million today.
  • ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton finds that 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.

Visit e-Samudra or Issue 3 (20/21) for more stories.


SOS Samudra: SG STAR Fund

Credit: MPA


To accelerate the process and propagate best practices of safe crew change, MPA, SSA, SMOU, and SOS, pulled their resources together to establish a S$1million Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) responded to Singapore’s call for like-minded international partners to participate in the tripartite initiative and contribute to the Alliance fund so that actions can be scaled up.

ITF and IMEC have jointly contributed US$500,000 to the SG-STAR Fund that is set up to work with stakeholders in seafaring nations on concrete solutions for safe crew changes, such as initiatives on best practices for crew holding facilities and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing centres. The total fund now amounts to S$1.68 million (approximately US$1.2 million).

Besides ITF and IMEC, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has extended its technical expertise in shipping to provide additional support for SG-STAR Fund.

In the joint release, it was reported that 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 fund will be disbursed for use upstream in countries where seafarers come from. 

“This has been a trying time for seafarers,” said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, “They have been working tirelessly to keep goods flowing around the world. But due to health and safety concerns, many have encountered difficulties to call on ports and undergo crew change, and that has severely affected their well-being. It is therefore very important for all stakeholders to come together to ensure safe port operations and safe crew changes.”

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton highlighted that 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,” Mr Cotton shared, “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.”

SOS Samudra: SG STAR Fund

Credit: MPA

Following the signing of the letter of intent for the SG-STAR Fund on 28 August 2020 between SOS, MPA, SSA and SMOU, a task force has been formed to work with stakeholders on solutions for safe crew change. Spearheaded by SSA Council Member and Chair of SSA Services Committee, Nitin Mathur, with initial members from SOS, MPA, and SMOU, the task force will first work with seafarer supplying countries such as the Philippines and India on key initiatives, which include the accreditation of quarantine and isolation facilities, COVID-19 PCR testing certification, “white-listing” of clinics for PCR testing, digital solutions for tracking crew change, and interactive training sessions for crew to help them understand crew change procedures and guidelines.

SSA President Caroline Yang will chair the Governance Committee for the SG-STAR Fund, comprising MPA Chief Executive Quah Ley Hoon, SMOU General Secretary Mary Liew, SOS President Kam Soon Huat, ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton, and IMEC Chairman Capt. Belal Ahmed. Appointed as the Senior Advisor to the Governance Committee is Dr Lam Pin Min, Honorary Member of SSA and CEO of Eagle Eye Centre.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that demands a global response. Only by pulling our resources together can we accelerate safe crew change and help distressed seafarers who have been severely impacted worldwide. We look forward to more international partners coming on board and participate in the SG-STAR Fund to make timely and safe crew change possible.

– Mr Kam Soon Huat, SOS President