Joint Media Release: International Tripartite Efforts Enabled Vaccination of More than 8,000 Foreign Sea Crew in Singapore

16 November 2021

     The Port of Singapore started vaccinating foreign sea crew, starting with resident foreign sea crew under the Sea-Air Vaccination Exercise (SAVE) since April 2021, and more recently non-resident foreign sea crew under the Sea Crew Vaccination (SEAVAX) Initiative since August 2021. Vaccinating sea crew against the COVID-19 virus provides them with an additional layer of protection as they continue to perform vital work behind the scenes from port to port. In Singapore, more than 37,800 frontline and essential maritime personnel are already fully vaccinated to ensure that Singapore continues to serve as a reliable node in global supply chains.

2   More than 8,000 foreign sea crew have received at least one dose of vaccination in Singapore, of whom 90% have been fully vaccinated, comprising some:

(A) 5,200 resident foreign sea crew working onboard local harbour craft in our port; and

(B) 2,860 non-resident foreign sea crew working onboard cruise ships, fishing and supply vessels, regional ferries, as well as yachts and pleasure crafts.

3  For the next phase of SEAVAX from 15 November 2021 till 30 June 2022, Singapore has made available at least 12,000 vaccine doses [1] to sea crew onboard ocean-going vessels calling at Singapore and sea crew signing on to ships in Singapore. This vaccination effort will be undertaken by the Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (STAR) Taskforce, an international tripartite alliance led by the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA). 

4  Singapore will also continue to facilitate crew change together with the shipping community so that sea crew need not work beyond their contract duration or can sign on ships to work. Since March 2020, Singapore has facilitated close to 190,000 crew changes. This is expected to reach 200,000 before end-December 2021. As part of facilitating crew change in a safe manner, the STAR Taskforce has also developed a CrewSafe audit programme with more than 30 accredited facilities in crew source nations with quality control checks to crew change processes across quarantine, medical, and testing facilities.

5  Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), said, “I welcome with appreciation the continuing efforts of Singapore to support crew change during the COVID-19 pandemic and to vaccinate seafarers including foreign seafarers calling at Singapore. I am heartened to hear of the extension of the programme to make available at least 12,000 vaccine doses to vaccinate sea crew onboard ocean-going vessels calling at Singapore and signing on to ships in Singapore. Initiatives like this strengthen my belief that we will be able to overcome the crew change crisis and safeguard the health and well-being of our seafarers as we strive to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.”

6  SSA President, Ms Caroline Yang, said, “The SSA-led STAR Taskforce audited more than 30 facilities in the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, enabling crew change to facilitate global trade amid the global pandemic. We are heartened that our continued efforts to champion the well-being of our seafarers have made progress with wider groups of eligible sea crew arriving in Singapore able to be protected against the Covid virus.”

7  “As a hub port and international maritime centre, Singapore is glad to do our part in vaccinating seafarers and facilitating crew changes. These are key to protect the health and well-being of seafarers onboard vessels and to safeguard global supply chains. I thank our industry and union partners for working closely with MPA on this important tripartite initiative. Singapore is ready to provide more vaccines beyond the 12,000 doses if there is further demand from the shipping lines and seafarers,” said Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport. 

8  The STAR Fund was formed in August 2020 as the first global ground-up tripartite initiative to bring together like-minded international partners from the industry, unions and government to serve the well-being of sea crew. The STAR Taskforce is led by the SSA, and comprises MPA, the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC). With a total funding contribution of about SGD 2 million (about USD 1.5 million), it is one of the first international tripartite alliance to work with stakeholders in seafaring nations on solutions for safe crew change.

Please refer to the quotes by other STAR Taskforce members in the Annex.

[1] Under the SEAVAX initiative, non-resident foreign ocean-going sea crew who wish to be vaccinated can receive one dose of the Moderna vaccine in Singapore during crew change or when their ships call at the Port of Singapore. This will be offered to unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated sea crew, as well as those who wish to receive a booster shot. The cost of vaccinating the sea crew will be fully borne by the industry. While the Moderna vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine available under the SEAVAX initiative for now, the STAR Taskforce may also source for other WHO-EUL vaccines under the Special Access Route (SAR).

SMS Chee Hong Tat and Mary Liew, General Secretary of the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) speaking to foreign sea crew who are going to be vaccinated 


One of the first non-resident foreign sea crew getting COVID-19 vaccination in Singapore