Genco, Synergy carry out first full crew change on a ship in Singapore under new protocol

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on June 08, 2020

Representative image   -  Bloomberg

The New York Stock Exchange-listed Genco Shipping & Trading Limited (Genco) has carried out the first full crew change on one of its ships under the new Covid-19 protocols in Singapore as ship owners chase a June 15 global deadline to swap staff working beyond their contract tenure on board.

The largest US headquartered dry bulk shipowner, completed the crew rotation on ‘Genco Liberty’, a 180,032 dead weight ton (DWT) Capesize vessel.

The crew change involved 37 seafarers that included Indian seafarers, which was completed on Saturday and executed in accordance with protocols established by Genco, Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) and Singapore-based ship manager, Synergy Group.

John C. Wobensmith, Chief Executive Officer, Genco, said that amid the outbreak of COVID-19, many individuals have been onboard oceangoing vessels in excess of the duration of their contracts, keeping them away from their families.

“Port restrictions, difficulty in arranging travel and ensuring the health of the on-signing crew members have all posed unique challenges that have prevented many shipowners from being able to undertake crew rotations in a safe and effective manner. For the Genco Liberty, we identified an opportunity to undertake a crew rotation in Singapore, as many of the dedicated 21 crew members have been onboard this vessel for longer than their original contract timeline due to COVID-19,” Wobensmith said.


The protocols developed by Genco, the MPA and the Synergy Group established quarantine and repatriation procedures for seafarers to protect health and safety, taking into account factors such as testing, the availability of personal protective equipment, travel and logistical issues, and the safety of the local community.

These industry leading protocols stipulate all arriving crew members to be quarantined for 14 days prior to boarding the vessel, receive personal protective equipment kits, and were administered Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests prior to travel.

Genco continues to work on conducting crew changes where permissible by regulations of the ports and origin of the mariners, in addition to strict protocols to safeguard crews against COVID-19 exposure, Wobensmith added.

“At Synergy Group, we have been working diligently to conduct crew changes since the outbreak of COVID-19 and we are grateful to Genco for taking the lead together with the MPA and the Singaporean government. We would like to continue to see more crew rotations occur globally as other countries can now look to the successful Genco Liberty crew rotation as the blueprint to help return these seafarers to their families,” said Captain Rajesh Unni, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Synergy Group, which carried out the crew change on ‘Genco Liberty’.

International Maritime Organization (IMO) framework

On May 5, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) circulated a framework of protocols to 174 member states, for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

On May 13, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) have given governments time until June 15 to repatriate crew working beyond their stipulated contract time, by following the IMO guidelines.

“We ought to scale up across geographies, the number of successful crew changes we have achieved through safe transit corridors. Else, we are staring at a trade logjam. Protecting seafarers’ well-being and the integrity of global supply chain are two sides of the same coin,” Unni said.

Despite directives from the IMO, International Labour Organization, ITF and IMEC, it is still impossible to implement crew changes freely, said Captain Rajesh Tandon, Global Director for Industrial Relations and Seafarer Development at ship manager V. Group Ltd.

“Whatever little is happening is a drop in the ocean,” he said.

Some 150,000 seafarers trapped on-board ships across the globe due to travel restriction, will need to be changed over to ensure compliance with international maritime regulations, according to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the world’s top shipping association. Ends/

Published on June 08, 2020

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