MPA Singapore: SafeEntry@Sea protocols take effect

On 15 January 2021, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) officially introduced new requirements for shore-based personnel boarding ships in an effort to improve the safety of maritime operations.

Illustration. Image Courtesy: MPA/Facebook
Illustration. Image Courtesy: MPA/Facebook

MPA, together with relevant agencies, tested some 27,000 shore-based personnel in a one-time sweep between 2 and 8 January 2021 following two COVID-19 cases in late December 2020.

All have been tested PCR-negative except for one person who was tested PCR-positive and serology-positive, and has been assessed to have recovered from COVID-19 infection, MPA revealed.

As explained, with the new requirements, MPA wants to safeguard the health and safety of shore-based personnel and their families amid the evolving COVID-19 situation internationally.

SafeEntry@Sea and checks of COVID-19 tests

In order to enhance the safety of operations, MPA is leveraging technology — SafeEntry@Sea — at its piers, where shore-based personnel boarding ships will scan a unique QR code to provide information on the ships they are boarding.

Specifically, to facilitate contact tracing should the need arises, all shore-based personnel are required to perform a SafeEntry@Sea check-in/out when embarking and disembarking at all waterfront facilities. They must provide details of their company and vessel(s) to be boarded, and comply with the safe management measures on board the vessel.

The waterfront facility’s owner, occupier or manager is required to conduct stringent checks and disallow any personnel from going on board if proof of a negative test result is not produced or if the personnel fails to use SafeEntry@Sea.

Apart from SafeEntry@Sea, all shore-based personnel about to board vessels for work or visits must produce proof of a valid negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test from a rostered routine testing programme, an ad hoc COVID-19 PCR test or Antigen Rapid Test taken within 72 hours before boarding the vessel.

The frequency of rostered routine testing for shore-based personnel who go onboard vessels regularly has increased from every fourteen days to every seven days.

Non-compliance with the rules

MPA said it requires the owner, master, agent of the vessel, which the shore-based personnel is boarding, to verify that the personnel has the requisite test results. The owner, master, agent of the vessel must also implement safe management measures on board the vessel when the shore-based personnel is on board.

If a shore-based personnel boards a vessel to work without proof of test results, fails to check in via SafeEntry@Sea, and/or fails to comply with measures on board the vessel, the personnel will also be held liable for non-compliance. Firm actions will be taken against individuals and companies for non-compliance, the maritime authority noted.

On 13 January, vaccination for shore-based personnel started at the Port of Singapore. As part of the government’s measures to protect frontline workers, shore-based personnel who are required to board a vessel in port in the course of their work will be prioritised for vaccination against COVID-19.