Bjørn Højgaard, CEO of Hong Kong shipmanagement Anglo-Eastern Univan Group, is blaming port states as the real cause of the ongoing crew change crisis.
s Mr. Højgaard wrote in a LinkedIn post, two years ago, seafarers were sent to a ship to relieve a colleague in a matter of days.
However, he adds that the “way we treat seafarers in 2021 is absolutely shameful”:
Since the pandemic started, crewing departments the world over have scrambled to facilitate crew change against increasingly difficult odds. Seafarers at home are often unable to get a contract, perhaps because they live in a country with a high Covid load. And seafarers onboard are increasingly being treated as pariahs
In addition, Mr. Højgaard mentioned that seafarers live with the “constant fear of interacting with possibly Covid-infected pilots, port officials, immigration and customs officers, stevedores etc., worrying that someone onboard might get a Covid infection.”
However, for the worsening of the crew change crisis, Mr. Højgaard believes that it’s not the ship owners and ship managers who are being difficult:
The real culprits here are the ports and nations who decide that, yes, they want the ships and their cargo, but no, they don’t allow crew change
What is more, mental health issues, including suicide are on the rise, while depression and apathy onboard is making navigation, cargo operations and critical maintenance more risky.
So where’s the outrage against the ports and nations that are the real culprits in this crisis? Nobody is refusing to deliver goods/cargoes to ports that don’t play their important role in ensuring that the 1.5 million men and women who serve onboard can do so under acceptable conditions
Mr. Højgaard wonders, concluding that “adding insult to injury, it makes absolutely no change to these ports’ policies whether the seafarers are vaccinated or not.”