The latest Crew Change Indicator shows that the number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract has increased from 3.7% to 4.2% in the last month, while the number of seafarers onboard vessels for over 11 months has remained stable at 0.4%.
Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator since it was first published in May 2021.espite the increase, these remain the second lowest numbers recorded by the
The Neptune Indicator also reports a 7% increase in seafarer vaccinations, from 59.8% in January to 66.8% in February, as seafarers are increasingly gaining access to first and second vaccine shots.
Moreover, ship managers describe new challenges to crew changes that confirm the worsening crew change trend. Because of the fresh wave of omicron infections in several major crewing nations, large numbers of seafarers are falling ill, leading to the postponement of crew changes. This has also led to some reported crew shortages.
Additionally, local authorities have again tightened restrictions in the face of increased positive cases, which has further complicated crew changes. Flight cancellations have also delayed the repatriation of seafarers, with severe challenges being noted in China.
There are however some positive news from Australia, where some ports have eased quarantine requirements, which has increased the ease and flexibility of crew changes in the region.
In the meantime, seafarer vaccination rates are increasing, and are reported at 66.8% in February. Despite this positive progress, ship managers still report vaccine hesitancy among some seafarers.
There are also issues related to access for booster doses for seafarers as several countries are changing travel rules to require a booster or vaccine certificate that is no older than a specific period.
Additionally, difficulties with recognition of vaccines continue as many countries only accept a subset of WHO-approved vaccines for travelling.
Finally, there are reports that some shipowners and charterers require vessels to be manned with only vaccinated crew, which disadvantages crew from areas where access to vaccines remains limited.
Though the observed increase in the number of seafarers onboard beyond the expiry of their contracts does not confirm our worst fears over the impact of omicron, reports by ship managers describe continued challenges in carrying out crew changes
highlights Kasper Søgaard, Managing Director, Head of Institutional Strategy and Development, Global Maritime Forum.