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SBMA reaps P65.7M windfall from crew change program

  • Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority generated an income of P65.73 million from the government’s crew-change program since September 2020
  • The total came from P14.64 million earned from September to December 2020, and P51.09 million collected in 2021
  • SBMA recorded 254 crew-change operations undertaken in Subic in the 16 months since September 2020 involving 62 vessels in 2020 and 192 ships in 2021

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) generated a total of P65.73 million in income from the government’s crew-change program since 2020.

SBMA chairman and administrator Wilma Eisma said the additional revenue was realized after 16 months of processing seafarers following the designation of Subic Bay Freeport as a crew-change hub in September 2020.

The total income–broken down into P14.64 million earned from September to December 2020 and P51.09 million collected in 2021–does not include income earned by local hotels and other tourism-related businesses that provided quarantine rooms and other services for the disembarked seafarers.

“The P65.7-million income is an additional windfall that SBMA earned by banking on Subic’s strict enforcement of health safety protocols,” Eisma noted.

“And it was realized after Subic took the opportunity—despite initial disapproval by some neighboring LGUs [local government units]—to provide much-needed service at a time when only a few ports wanted to take in seafarers because of the virus threat,” she added.

Eisma said SBMA decided favorably on the crew-change project because it would not only bring crewmen home to their families but would also help unlock congestion in ports and reboot the global supply chain heavily impacted by the pandemic.

According to the SBMA Seaport Department, a total of 254 crew-change operations were undertaken in Subic in the 16 months since September 2020. These involved 62 vessels in 2020 and 192 ships in 2021.

On average, around 12 to 15 ships arrive in Subic each month for crew change, said Seaport Department general manager Jerome Martinez. But during busy times, as many as 33 ships call Subic a month, as they did last November.

The ships arrive either to take in new on-signers to refresh the crew, or disembark off-signers who must go on vacation or visit their families.

Martinez said that in the last 16 months, the port of Subic processed a total of 2,001 on-signers, of which 1,931 were Filipinos and 70 were foreigners of various nationalities.

At the same time, a total of 1,927 off-signers came onshore through Subic. These included 1,743 Filipinos and 184 foreigners, Martinez said.

The seafarers arrived aboard all kinds of ships such as the MT Dapeng Star, a liquified natural gas tanker, the first vessel to call Subic under the crew-change program; MV Mindoro, a Panama-flagged vehicles carrier; MT Jason, a chemical tanker from Marshall Islands; MT Euro Integrity, a Liberian-flagged crude oil tanker; MV Nine Eagle, a Panama-flagged livestock carrier; and CS Cable Retriever, a dredging and cable-laying ship based in Singapore.

The Philippines was one of 13 countries which in 2020 had committed to the International Maritime Organization to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers. Aside from Subic, other designated crew change hubs include Manila South Harbor, Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan, Port of Sasa in Davao, Port of Batangas, and Cebu port.

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