AsiaMaritime CEOOperations

Synergy Marine: The technical partnership model for shipmanagement

Founded 15 years ago, Singapore’s Synergy Marine Group has grown very fast to become one of the world’s largest shipmanagers with close to 400 ships on its books. Without legacy issues that older shipmanagement companies face today, Synergy has been able to tap into the new, more collaborative era of shipowning, creating a new business template for shipmanagement that has served it very well to date.

Founded by Captain Rajesh Unni, Synergy positions itself today as a partner to owners trying to navigate the complex regulatory, digital and green pathways the industry is facing.

“I am more and more convinced the future is not third party management but a technical partnership model whether it be on decarbonisation, diversification, digitalisation or commercialisation. How can we help our customers and our customers’ customers succeed,” Unni says in conversation with Maritime CEO.

You’re going to have a completely different type of workforce in the future – the machine/human interaction will be totally different

Other managers have tried to go down this collaborative, joint venture path with owners with mixed fortunes in recent years.

To make this technical partnership model work incentives need to be aligned, Unni reckons, saying: “B2B partnerships need integrity and core values that filter down to every employee.”

Unni is acutely aware of the risks managers will face in attracting quality crew after all the traumas seafarers have endured during the ongoing pandemic. A complete rethink in how to pitch shipping as an exciting career is needed, the Synergy boss argues.

“As leaders in this industry we are not attracting the real good talent that is available,” Unni says. “What we need to do is go out and tell people the amount of opportunity shipping offers today.”

The olden days of mechanical engineers, for instance, are coming to an end with the rise of dual fuel engines.

Decarbonisation, digitalisation and sustainability resonate with young people

Likewise, a ship’s bridge tomorrow will be totally different with tech taking over.

“I feel you are going to have a completely different type of workforce in the future – the machine/human interaction will be totally different,” Unni says. “We need to invest into the knowhow or else there will be a delta when these new ships come out.”

Getting the message to prospective new employees just right will be vital.

“This is the chance to be on an amazing transition journey,” Unni argues. “Leaders need to be at the forefront, telling them the opportunities and what we can offer them. You have to excite them with the possibilities. Decarbonisation, digitalisation and sustainability resonate with young people.”

For the past month, Unni has upped sticks from Singapore, returning to his native India to help out wherever he can in the fight against Covid.

Unni and his team have been sourcing hospital beds, oxygen concentrators and medication packs across the country as well as setting up vaccination centres.

On vaccines for those at sea, Unni has a solution at hand that he is keen to air to the international community – using port health offices as hubs for vaccines, something that would be easy to make scalable.

“I don’t see this going away in the next two years,” Unni warns. “We will all need boosters, so countries that are less affected could use their port health officers to get jabs done.”


  1. Pleasure to see transparent ship management model being practised, which could lead to opportune expansion of ship management to the 70% of the ships which are managed in-house by Ship Owners currently.

    Ship Owners with large fleet (with economy of scale) could manage their ships in-house most efficiently and economically by:

    – empowering their people at sea and on shore to look after their fleet;

    – shore managers taking the role of ‘support staff’ of seafarers.

    However, availability of crew to manage the ships, with the GHG goals could pose serious issues with the current treatment the crew face from the Governments and stakeholders and their pre-mature attrition.

    Though good Ship Owners invest in crew training to safeguard their operations and standards, 3rd party Ship Managers (with their economy of scale) are better positioned to invest on a larger scale for crew pool, colleges, shore facilities etc for crew training.

    Ships are best managed in-house by the Ship Owner where crew is recruited by their in-house technical manager and crew works for the owner, rather than a crew manager. However, this model will be stressed.

    Transparent Ship Management in technical partnership with Ship Owners (without the economy of scale) has good future.

  2. He is correct industry going to disrupt and plenty of new opportunities , lot of new thinking ,new technologies to manage ships, ship will operated efficiently using technologies ,data analyzing ,the moment fast and cheep data available across the ocean industry will explode with digitalization

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