Genco bulker completes first full crew change under Singapore COVID-19 protocols

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Image released by Wilhelmsen shows incoming crew of Genco Liberty headed for bulker

New York City headquartered dry bulk specialist Genco Shipping & Trading Limited (NYSE:GNK) reports that its 180,032 dwt Genco Liberty has completed the first full crew change to be carried out under Singapore’s COVID-19 protocols.

A total of 37 seafarers were involved in the operation, which was completed on June 6, 2020, and executed in accordance with protocols established by Genco, Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), and Synergy Group, the Genco Liberty’s ship manager. The change was coordinated by Wilhelmsen Ships Agency.

The new crew—14 Sri Lankans and four Indian seafarers—arrived in Singapore from Sri Lanka by charter jet early morning June 6 after having been requested to remain in home quarantine for 14 days and testing negative for COVID-19 before their departure flight. They were met at the airport by an agent with a private transport that complied with safe distancing measures. Face masks and hand sanitization were also provided for all arriving crew.

The 19-man Indian crew they replaced left Singapore by the same charter jet. They disembarked the ship after an approved medical doctor had certified prior to sign-off that all were fit-to-travel. There was no sharing of passenger launch boats for crew and service engineers/technicians. The crew were then conveyed in private transport that complied with safe distancing measures, and fresh face masks and hand sanitization were provided for all crew before boarding the vehicles. The designated agent also reminded crew members that the donning of face masks is compulsory in Singapore.

“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,” said Genco CEO John C. Wobensmith. “Port restrictions, difficulty 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. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we have worked diligently to promote the health, safety and well-being of our crew and to find a solution to return these individuals to their home country. 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. We thank the MPA for their leadership and collaboration efforts with Genco and the Synergy Group in establishing innovative protocols that facilitated the first full crew change in Singapore since March and in making this industry-led engagement a possibility. We also thank our crew members for their perseverance and sacrifice during such difficult times.”

Captain Rajesh Unni, founder and CEO of Synergy Group, commented, “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.”

“It is encouraging to see how regulators, industry bodies, customers and indeed competitors now coming together to address such a critical matter, the welfare of seafarers,” said Neal De Roche, executive vice president, Wilhelmsen Ships Agency. “As port agents, we are committed to supporting the industry in any way we can to get our seafarers home, and new crews redeployed safely and efficiently.”

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