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As Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia rein in crew change freedoms, calls grow for a crackdown on Filipino manning agencies

As Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia rein in crew change freedoms, calls are growing for authorities to crack down on manning agencies in the Philippines.

Singapore on Friday enacted more restrictions on crew changes. Effectively, only Singapore-flagged ships can now change crews in the Southeast Asian republic, and with plenty of further restrictions crew changes are now logistically and financially very tricky.

In the run up to cutting off crew changes, Singaporean authorities had highlighted how they had discovered a number of Filipinos had been flouting quarantine regulations, some even carrying coronavirus tests that had been altered or tampered with.

Carl Martin Faannessen, a crewing specialist based in Manila, has called for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to step in.

“The manning agencies involved should be identified and lose their license immediately, with no right of appeal. Trust in local regulatory bodies will vaporize unless stern action is taken,” Faannessen wrote on LinkedIn in a post that was swiftly endorsed by many including Carl Schou, the president of Wilhelmsen Ship Management.

Splash has obtained pictures of fake coronavirus certificates being sold in Manila for as little as $2 (see below).

Hong Kong over the weekend has decided to ban all crew changes for ships that have no cargo operations scheduled in the southern Chinese city. Hong Kong had been one of Asia’s most open ports for crew changes in recent months but the city is now gripped by a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic with a slew of new regulations coming in to try and halt the spread of the virus. The crew change restrictions come into effect on Wednesday.

Malaysia has also decided to toughen up its stance on crew changes over the weekend. Malaysia is imposing 14-day quarantine for foreigners arriving at Kuala Lumpur airport.

Elsewhere, due to the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in Oman and a spike in daily confirmed cases, all crew changes have been halted.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Just because of some irresponsible no brains individuals, now all seafarers are stuck-no sign on and off.Thank you so very much,idiots!

  2. Must work with govt to use isolated ports /air ports for crew change. Places like gawader in Pakistan. Indra point in sirilanka, any remote island in Malaysia or Indonesia where airports are available. From main airports to these small make small planes charter flights. Sailors to be directly transfer to those areas. Like from dubai to & from gwader. From Colombo to Indra point. From Jakarta. KL to the island with small airport.

    1. The you plan the crewing. See whether your superintendent approve your plan. Then you go contact the local agents.
      Cannot be done

  3. Wait a minute! Some smart guy is alleging there is rampant fabrication of fake corona virus certificates based on the pics posted here? Is he sure that guy is a seafarer? And what are the proofs licensed manning agencies are behind this scheme of intentionally breaking health protocols and fabricating certificates? Come on. Come up with proofs. Don’t ruin Filipino seafarers and licensed manning agencies by generalizing unproven allegations.

  4. IMEC and INTERMANAGER was aware of this from the beginning. Shipmanagers are not reliable and this is a problem.

  5. Here is my two cents on crew change crisis, to help all Countries to understand, cargo comes by ships, and ships are operated by seafarers, yes, seafarers are human being and they work night and day on board to bring the goods to your Country.
    So prior of any vessel arrival in your country, you shall have procedures in place to be ready for crew change, if this does not work with you, simply don’t expect cargo to arrive, your call !

  6. Filipino seafarers is being tested in a certified hospitals/clinic and result is transmitted directly to manning agency.under no account seafarers have their hand on the result to alter or tamper it.thats the reason why our President is stopping this b*”# s@*t media reporting.racist

  7. Blaming uselessness of IMO, ITF to Manning Agencies. This organizations are a waste of taxpayers dollars and every seafarer knows that.

  8. impossible! seaferers dont have direct access to their swan test results..what the manning agencies doing now is that rigt after the swab test of their seaferer they quarantined them immediately in hotels waiting for the result.and if you are positive with covid they they will coordinate to the LGUs where you lived and that lgus will be the one picking uou up from hotels and transfer you to government facilities for isolation until you will be tesred negative of covid…

  9. If you can’t allow crew change but you want the ship to come with cargo. That’s the double standard of all the country. If you can’t change crew better you stop your port. If you can

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