Dry bulk shipowner Genco Shipping has completed the first full crew change under new COVID-19 protocols in Singapore since March. A total of 37 seafarers were involved in this crew change of the Genco Liberty, a 180,032 DWT Capesize vessel.

‘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,’ says John C. Wobensmith, CEO of the US based shipping company. ‘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.’

The crew of the Genco Liberty had also been on board longer than planned. Their changeover was completed on 6 June, however, by applying protocols developed by Genco, Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) and the Synergy Group. These protocols established quarantine and repatriation procedures for seafarers. Factors such as testing, the availability of personal protective equipment, travel and logistical issues, and the safety of the local community were all taken account.

In practice, this meant that all arriving crew members were quarantined for fourteen days prior to boarding the vessel. In addition, they all received personal protective equipment kits and were administered Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests prior to travel. Genco hopes this crew rotation can serve as a blueprint to help return other seafarers to their families.