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crewchangewilh.jpg Photo: Wilhelmsen

First crew change under new Singapore guidelines

A full crew change has been conducted in Singapore using new guidelines developed by the industry and authorities, with seafarers on chartered flights.

The first batch of 37 seafarers were able to sign on and off the bulker Genco Liberty, managed by Synergy Group on 6 June with the crew change coordinated by Wilhelmsen Ship Agency.

Some 18 seafarers, 14 from Sri Lanka and four Indian nationals, arrived in Singapore on a chartered flight, with 19 Indian crew from the Genco Liberty returning home on the same chartered aircraft.

Singapore recently relaxed its restrictions on crew changes put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 allowing for seafarers who have finished their contracts to disembark following procedures developed by the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) with the Singapore Crew Change Working Group, (SGCCWG).

The guidelines include a 14-day home quarantine and negative Covid-19 tests for the seafarers signing-on and for those signing off medical clearance that they were fit to travel.

Neal De Roche, executive vice president, Wilhelmsen Ships Agency “As an integral part of the Singapore Crew Change Working Group, (SGCCWG) we are very happy to now be coordinating the first full crew change, performed in line with the new crew change protocol we worked so hard to put together as part of the SGCCWG. 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. 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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Rajesh Unni, founder and ceo of Synergy commented: “At Synergy Group we have desperately been trying to conduct crew changes since the outbreak of COVID-19. In early March, we proposed the idea of a safe corridor for seafarers to facilitate crew changes, founded an alliance of leading maritime companies in April to push for collective crew changes and most recently have been one of the participants in the Singapore Crew Change Working Group.

“It is no accident that this latest success has been achieved in partnership with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore government who have been endlessly supportive and proactive.”

The new guidelines in Singapore are seen as providing a solid foundation for more structured crew changes than have been seen in recent months.

Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of the MPA said: “We are glad that together with Wilhelmsen and the Synergy Group, and by using a chartered flight, we have been able to help 37 crew members sign-on and sign off. Such chartered flights provide an effective means of crew change under the established procedures.”

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