Sailors SocietyThe Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology CimbriaCoaltrans Virtual World Coal Leaders Network 2020TelestackTBA Group
  • Port of Vancouver USA
  • Port of South Louisiana
  • Cleveland Cascades Ltd
  • Telestack
  • TMS Awards 2020
  • Port of Stockton

Synergy calls for crew crisis action

(Posted on 31/03/20)

The organisation of collective crew changes at key hub ports by ship managers and owners has the potential to solve the seafarer welfare crisis currently threatening global supply chains, believes Captain Rajesh Unni, Founder and CEO of leading Singapore-based ship manager Synergy Group, which employs over 12,000 seafarers on more than 300 vessels.

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

“Seafarers returning home would have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, of course. And those joining ships would need to pass a mandatory medical, including a Covid-19 test.

“Even if Covid-19 infections subside, which we all hope they will do, putting a plan in place now will be good preparation for the future.”

Over 1.6 million seafarers keep the world’s merchant fleet at sea, delivering fuel, medicines, food and equipment to those countries where large portions of the population are currently under curfew as governments try to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

However, as a number of organisations including Human Rights at Sea and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have made clear in recent days, the closure of borders and strict quarantine rules are preventing crew changes from being completed in accordance with employment contracts and international conventions including the Maritime Labour Convention.

The upshot is that thousands of seafarers are now stuck on ships unable to return home. Moreover, for those stranded at sea, conditions are deteriorating rapidly.

“In many ports crew changes are simply prohibited,” said Captain Unni. “Elsewhere, vessels from some origins are now forced to remain at anchorage in quarantine for up to 14 days before they can dock.

“To make matters worse, it is also becoming increasingly difficult for crew to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables such are the restrictions placed on port agents and captains.

“And how are seafarers with medical conditions supposed to get treatments if they can’t leave the vessel?

“This is a safety issue and it’s a mental health issue.

“Seafarers are key workers and they need to be treated with more respect and support. People in any profession should have the right to return home and see their families.”

To facilitate the continuation of world trade without interruption and to protect the human rights and mental well-being of seafarers, Captain Unni is now reaching out to like-minded stakeholders to expedite collective crew changes.

“We have already spoken to a number of leading ship owners and they agree this is a positive way forward,” he said. “We have also identified a number of ports where we think this can be actioned.

“We are now approaching leading shipping organisations and have contacted the IMO about how we can move this forward with the utmost haste.”

In any given month around 100,000 seafarers reach the end of their employment contracts and are repatriated, according to ICS.

“This is a time bomb,” said Captain Unni. “Even under normal circumstance, seafaring is stressful and involves spending long periods of time away from friends and family.

Latest News

North to enhance routing risk advice

(Posted on 23/10/20)

Leading international shipping insurer North P&I Club has launched a new marine risk awareness solution... Read more


IMEC commissions Ocean to develop competencies for Ratings

(Posted on 23/10/20)

The International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) has commissioned Ocean Technologies Group... Read more


Piracy increasing off West Africa

(Posted on 18/10/20)

ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) figures show a rise in piracy and armed robbery on the world... Read more


CCS fleet grows to 155m GT

(Posted on 16/10/20)

China Classification Society (CCS) grew its serviced fleet to 34,974 vessels in 2019, marking another... Read more


Pandemic has some positive effects on training

(Posted on 16/10/20)

Leading international catering management and training provider, MCTC has revealed that COVID-19 has... Read more


INTERCARGO address key issues

(Posted on 12/10/20)

The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO) has held its Annual General Meeting... Read more


Jones steps down as BRS chairman

(Posted on 12/10/20)

The BRS Group has a new chairman. As the partnership agreement stipulates, on reaching the age of 65... Read more


Høglund and Veracity to collaborate

(Posted on 12/10/20)

Høglund Marine Solutions (Høglund) and Veracity by DNV GL (Veracity) have signed a collaboration... Read more


German Shipowners welcome LNG investments

(Posted on 07/10/20)

“As one of the world’s major shipping nations, Germany needs an LNG infrastructure for its... Read more


Thome and Carsten Rehder agree JV

(Posted on 07/10/20)

The Thome Group and Carsten Rehder have agreed to cooperate in a joint venture.Under the agreement,... Read more


China Coaltrans 2020TOC EventsPort of South LouisianaCleveland Cascades LtdPort of Vancouver USATMS Webinar Series COVID-19: A Leadership Perspective - ‘Container Terminals in the Pandemic - Rapid bounce back or slow recovery?
  • TBA Group
  • Cimbria
  • China Coaltrans 2020

Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest global news in bulk cargo handling and shipping