Overview of Crewing a Singapore Ship

Are you new to crewing a Singapore-registered ship? This section will provide you with an overview of Singapore’s manning requirements.

Nationality of your crew
There are no restrictions on the nationality of your crew working on board a Singapore-registered ship. 

However, companies should make reasonable efforts to consider and attract Singaporean seafarers on merit, as well as to train and develop their potential and careers. Companies can tap on national training schemes to employ and train Singaporean seafarers. More information on these schemes can be found under Employing Singaporean Seafarers.


Certificates of Competency
Officers must only hold certificates of competency (COC) issued by countries that are recognised by Singapore. The list of countries can be found in MPA Shipping Circular No. 21 of 2017.

These officers must also hold certificates of endorsement (COE) issued by MPA. This COE is:
  • valid for five years from the date of issue; and
  • not valid when the COC expires
Companies must ensure that your officers are holding a valid COC and COE prior to working on board your ship. The original COC and COE certificates must be placed on board your ship.

Ratings are not required to hold any MPA flag state endorsements. 

More information can be found at MPA Shipping Circular No. 10 of 2010.
Minimum Safe Manning Document
Companies must ensure that their Singapore-registered ship is manned at all times with crew of appropriate qualifications who have been properly trained and certificated for the safe operation of the ship and the protection of the marine environment. The number of certificated officers and certificated and non-certificated ratings must be in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Manning) Regulations.

Companies must make an assessment of the numbers and qualifications of your crew for the safe operation of your ship.

Proposals based on the assessment must be submitted to MPA which, when satisfied that the proposed manning levels are adequate, will issue a Minimum Safe Manning Document (MSMD).

Note: Companies must engage a qualified cook on board a Singapore-registered ship with ten or more seafarers in accordance with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. However, this cook will not be considered for meeting the ship’s safe manning requirements.

More information can be found at MPA Shipping Circular No. 22 of 2013.


Tanker Endorsements
In accordance with the STCW, all officers and ratings (including masters, deck officers, marine engineer officers, and ratings) assigned specific duties and responsibilities related to cargo or cargo equipment on chemical, oil or liquefied gas tankers must hold a tanker certificate or a tanker endorsement on their certificate of competency (COC) to work on board these tankers. 

Officers must hold tanker certificates or a tanker endorsement on their COC issued by countries that are recognised by Singapore. The list of countries whose COC is recognised by MPA can be found in MPA Shipping Circular No. 21 of 2017.

Officers holding a tanker certificate or a tanker endorsement on their COC must also hold a flag state tanker endorsement issued by MPA. These tanker endorsements are issued at two levels:
  • Basic level: Officers and ratings assigned specific duties and responsibilities related to cargo or cargo equipment; and
  • Advanced level: Masters, chief engineer officers, chief mates, second engineer officers and any person with immediate responsibility for loading, discharging and care in transit or handling of cargo 
Tanker endorsements are:
  • valid for five years from the date of issue; and
  • not valid when the tanker certificate or the COC expires
Ratings (including Able Bodied seafarers (AB), ratings forming part of a navigational or engine room watch, pumpman etc.) assigned in any duties related to cargo or cargo equipment must hold a tanker certificate issued by their national administrations. They are not required to hold flag state tanker endorsements issued by MPA.

Companies must ensure that your officers and ratings are holding a valid tanker certificates or tanker endorsements on their COC and MPA’s flag state tanker endorsements prior to working on board your tanker. The original tanker certificates or tanker endorsements on their COC and MPA’s flag state tanker endorsements must be placed on board your tanker.

More information can be found at MPA Shipping Circular No. 18 of 2011.
Electro-Technical Officers (ETO) and Electro-Technical Ratings (ETR)
Electro-Technical Officers (ETOs) performing electrical, electronic and control engineering at the operational level (as stipulated in STCW Table A-III/6) must hold a certificate of competency-electro-technical officer (COC-ETO). 

ETOs must only hold COC-ETOs issued by countries that are recognised by Singapore. The list of countries can be found in MPA Shipping Circular No. 2 of 2016.

These officers must also hold certificates of endorsement (COE) issued by MPA. This COE is:

• valid for five years from the date of issue; and
• not valid when the COC expires

Electro-Technical Ratings (ETRs) performing electrical, electronic and control engineering at the support level (as stipulated in STCW Table A-III/7) must hold a certificate of proficiency-electro-technical rating (COP-ETR).

ETRs, including Able Bodied seafarers (AB), are not required to hold COEs. 

Companies must ensure that your ETOs and ETRs are holding valid certificates (i.e. COC-ETO, COE, or COP-ETR) prior to working on board your ship. The original certificates must be placed on board your ship.

Note: The Minimum Safe Manning Document (MSMD) covers ETOs and ETRs under “other engine-room personnel”. Your company must assess whether there is a need to carry specialist officers (e.g. ETOs) or ratings (e.g. ETRs) based on your ship’s operational requirements. 

Ship's Cook
Singapore-registered ships with ten or more seafarers: Companies must engage a qualified cook in accordance with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC). A copy of the ship’s cook certificate must be submitted to MPA prior to working on board your ship.

Note: Companies do not need to engage a qualified cook for Singapore-registered ships with less than ten seafarers. Seafarers on such ships who are assigned duties in processing food in the galley must be trained or instructed in areas including food and personal hygiene, as well as handling and storage of food on board ship.

Certification of ship’s cook: MPA will issue a certificate of proficiency as Ship’s Cook to a seafarer who has completed training in an institute recognised by MPA.

Ship’s cook trained overseas: MPA recognises ship’s cook certificates issued by a country that is party to the MLC or the ILO Certification of Cooks Convention, 1946. MPA will not be issuing a document to recognise such certificates. However, a copy of the certificate must be submitted to MPA prior to working on board your ship.

Companies must ensure that your ship’s cook must hold a valid cook certificate prior to working on board your ship. The original cook certificates must be placed on board your ship.

More information can be found at MPA Shipping Circular No. 3 of 2013.


Medical Fitness Certificate
All seafarers working on board Singapore-registered ships must hold a valid medical fitness certificate attesting that the seafarer is medically fit to perform the duties they are to carry out on board the ship. 

MPA recognises medical fitness certificates issued by the following:
  1. Registered medical practitioners licensed to practice in Singapore and familiar with the guidelines on the medical examination and certification of seafarers; or
  2. A medical practitioner recognised by a country on the “STCW White List” (see IMO document MSC.1/Circ.1163/Rev.7 dated 24 May 2011, as updated from time to time);
  3. iii. A medical practitioner recognised by a country party to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) and who is  familiar with the IMO guidelines on the medical examination and certification of seafarers
Note: The list of registered medical practitioners in Singapore can be found at: www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg. 

Part 3 of the IMO guidelines on the medical examination and certification of seafarers provides the information needed in a medical assessment and the medical certificate to be issued to seafarers.

Note: A sample format for the “Record of Medical Examinations of Seafarer” and “Seafarer Medical Certificate” can be found at Annex B and C of MPA Shipping Circular No. 13 of 2013.