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Singapore: MPA publishes Covid-19 precautionary measures for bunker operations

01 Sep 2020

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Saturday (29 August) published a notice to the Singapore bunkering industry outlining some additional precautionary measures that should be observed when conducting their respective duties during bunker delivery operations at port to minimise the risk of contracting Covid-19: 

Interim Precautionary Measures to Minimise Risk of Contracting COVID-19 During Bunkering Operations in Port of Singapore

This notice serves to inform all MPA licensed bunker suppliers, bunker craft operators and bunker surveying companies on the interim precautionary measures to be implemented to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19 during bunkering operations in the Port of Singapore.

The following interim precautionary measures should be considered by cargo officers (bunker clerks), bunker craft crew and bunker surveyors (if engaged) when conducting their respective duties during bunker delivery operations to visiting vessels. These additional measures are drawn in consultation with the Singapore Shipping Association and Singapore’s Ministry of Health.

Cargo officers, bunker tanker crew and bunker surveyors, as appropriate, should:

General Measures

  1. Carry out, and log, twice daily temperature checks.
  2. Practise safe distancing (2 metres apart) and minimise contact with the visiting vessel’s crew.
  3. If your work requires you to board a visiting vessel or interact with the visiting vessel’s crew, wear the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including the use of a surgical mask and gloves minimally as well as goggles/face shields (as appropriate), and ensure no close contact with the vessel’s crew.
  4. Seek medical attention promptly if feeling unwell.
  5. Observe good personal hygiene and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  6. Practice frequent hand washing with soap.
  7. Avoid shaking hands and adopt other non-contact greeting methods.
  8. Maintain a log of movements of all persons for the purposes of contact tracing.
  9. Only essential vessel crew and shore personnel to be in the same work area if necessary, which has to be well-ventilated at all times.
  10. Avoid consumption of food or beverages on board ships if possible, as removal of surgical masks increases the risk of exposure.

In addition to the above, companies are strongly encouraged to further minimise unnecessary exposure and mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 during bunkering operations, and the following personnel should comply with the following measures as far as practicable. To prevent any operational delays, it is strongly advised that proper communication between the relevant parties (bunker buyer, bunker supplier, bunker craft operator, visiting vessel crew, bunker crew, cargo officer, bunker surveyor, ship agent etc.) on the interim precautionary measures to be adopted are conducted prior to the visiting vessel’s arrival in the Port of Singapore. Upon request by the Master of the bunker craft and/or bunker craft operator, the Master/owner/operator/agent of the visiting vessel should provide the Maritime Declaration of Health to them for their information.

  • Cargo Officers:
    1. Communications between the bunker tanker and the visiting ship to be done with the help of walkie-talkie and/or via an agreed VHF channel.
    2. All pre and post bunkering documentations to be transferred/received via bucket and messenger rope. For those documents that can be shared and verified electronically, such as photos, it is encouraged to be done so via electronic means if available.
    3. Pictures of all sealing points and the seal numbers, with date and time stamp shall form a part of the pre and post bunkering documentation along with copies of the metering system diagram and latest seal verification report.
    4. Pictures with date and time stamp of opening / closing meter readings of the non-resettable totalizer along with the resettable totalizer readings (i.e. pre and post bunkering) shall also form part of the bunkering documentation.
    5. Request from the visiting vessel pictures, with date and time stamp of the sampling equipment and the operational seal of the sampling point.
    6. Records of all the above shall be maintained for a period of at least three months from the date of the bunker delivery. Such records must be provided to MPA as and when requested.
    7. If the cargo officer is required to go onboard the visiting vessel, they should perform their activity expeditiously and are restricted to the ship’s open deck, and not within accommodation space, engine room or pump room.
    8. The cargo officer must minimally wear a surgical mask and gloves as well as goggles/face shield (as appropriate), and shall maintain safe distance of at least 2 metres from the bunker surveyor or visiting ship’s crew at all times.
  • Bunker Crew:
    1. Bunker crew should avoid boarding the visiting vessels where possible, and the visiting vessel’s crew should be requested to assist in connecting and disconnecting the bunker hose to avoid having the bunker tanker crew board the visiting vessel.
    2. If the bunker crew is required to go onboard the visiting vessel, they should perform their activity expeditiously and any such activity should be restricted to the ship’s manifold area in the open deck, and not within accommodation space, engine room or pump room.
    3. The bunker crew must minimally wear a surgical mask and gloves as well as goggles/face shield (as appropriate), and shall maintain safe distance of at least 2 metres from the bunker surveyor or visiting ship’s crew at all times.
  • Bunker Surveyors:
    1. If a bunker surveyor is engaged, he shall be allowed to conduct all his duties in accordance with the relevant bunkering standards.
    2. Bunker surveyor immediately upon boarding the visiting vessel shall confirm with the ship’s responsible officer that all crew are well onboard. He shall immediately stop work if he observes any crew onboard is visibly unwell while he is onboard.
    3. Bunker surveyor shall request the Master of the visiting ship to provide a suitable isolation area that has been appropriately sanitized for him to carry out his documentation work while onboard.
    4. The bunker surveyor must minimally wear a surgical mask and gloves as well as goggles/face shield (as appropriate), and shall maintain safe distance of at least 2 metres from the cargo officer, bunker crew or visiting ship’s crew at all times.
    5. The bunker surveyor shall limit his interactions with the cargo officer and bunker tanker crew, to what is necessary for the conduct of his work, when onboard the bunker tanker.
    6. When entering the accommodation space of the bunker tanker to verify status of critical alarm, the bunker surveyor shall do so promptly and expediently and practice safe distancing.
    7. During his stay onboard the visiting vessel, he shall preferably conduct his interactions with the visiting vessel crew (limited to only personnel involved in bunkering) on deck and always maintain a social distance of 2 metres.
    8. Avoid consumption of food or beverages prepared onboard the visiting vessels. Bunker surveyors shall not eat or share food /beverage/utensil in the ship’s mess together with the rest of the crew members. Bunker surveyors may bring along their own food, beverage and utensils for consumption of food, if required. As the removal of surgical masks increases the risk of exposure, any consumption of food shall be in a pre-disinfected isolated room.

The above list of interim precautionary measures is not exhaustive, and individual supplier/craft operator/bunker surveyor companies may wish to take other reasonable precautionary measures to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19 to their personnel, while ensuring that bunkering operations in Singapore continue to be reliable, efficient and transparent.

As was separately communicated by MPA, we would like to remind those companies that are yet to make a one-time submission of your Safe Management Measures (SMM) for company personnel boarding vessels calling into Singapore port to MPA at BSD@mpa.gov.sg by 07 Sept 2020. Companies to only resubmit their SMM when there are any new revisions made to the measures in place.

We thank all stakeholders for your continuous efforts in ensuring that Singapore’s port operations remain uninterrupted and efficient. We also urge all to remain vigilant, resolute and united in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.


Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore 

Published: 1 September, 2020

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