Ship manager proposes “collective crew changes”

Captain Rajesh Unni, founder and CEO of Singapore-based Synergy Group, has called for shipmanagers and owners to organize collective crew changes at key hub ports.

Captain Unni said that the closure of borders and strict quarantine rules in the wake of the coronavirus spread was preventing crew changes from being completed in accordance with employment contracts and international conventions including the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

He said that thousands of seafarers were currently stuck on ships, unable to return home. For some of those stranded at sea, conditions were deteriorating rapidly.

“I believe that collective, carefully managed crew changes at designated ports could help us tackle this crisis,” Unni said.

Unni has suggested bunkering hubs Singapore, Gibraltar and Houston as good global crew repatriation centres. Countries where new ships were being delivered and drydocked, such as China, South Korea and Japan would also need to come onboard the crew repatriation scheme, he said.

Unni said that seafarers returning home would have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period. Those joining ships would need to pass a mandatory medical, including a test for the presence of Covid-19.