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Singapore working with global shipping industry to facilitate crew changes

SINGAPORE has been working closely with shipping partners, seafarer unions and shipping companies to facilitate crew change in a safe manner, such as through the use of "safe corridors", and the Maritime Port Authority has approved nearly 3,000 cases of crew changes since March 27, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a Facebook post on Tuesday. 

"We have gone further and started facilitating crew changes in larger numbers via chartered flights," he added. 

The first such flight took place in Changi Airport last Saturday, in accordance with the protocol set up by the International Chamber of Shipping and supported by the International Maritime Organisation. There will be three more such chartered flights for shipping crew this week, he said. 

The Financial Times reported this week that up to 400,000 crew are stranded either at sea or at home by travel restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

One German-owned tanker refused to sail unless replacement crew could be brought in; the fear is that others will follow after June 16, when emergency extensions to the labour agreements governing seafarer's contracts expire. 

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According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, around 80 per cent of world trade by volume is carried on vessels that range from container ships to fuel tankers and dry-bulk carriers. 

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