The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator that covers crew change developments in the first quarter of 2023 suggests that the situation remains stable. The number of seafarers vaccinated is at 96.3%, a slight increase of 0.7 percentage points from the previous quarter.
ikewise, the number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract is down by 0.5 percentage points, now at 2.2%. The number of seafarers onboard vessels for more than 11 months remains at 0.2%. Ship managers report that crew change operations of foreign crews at Chinese ports are relatively back to normal. Overall, there is a trend towards pre-covid conditions.
Ship managers are now reviewing their covid protocols. Some no longer test crew prior to departure from their home country, or prior to boarding a ship at the port of embarkation. As part of their reporting, the contributing ship managers have also highlighted the following key developments that have impacted crew changes in the past quarter.
- Domestic lock downs and flight cancellations have reduced.
- Crew change operations of foreign crew at Chinese ports are relatively back to normal.
- Brazil has resumed their immigration protocol for crew changes within Brazilian territories.
- Ship owners are now reviewing their COVID protocols. Some are not testing crew prior departure from their home country, or prior boarding a ship at the port of embarkation.
- Overall, there is a positive trend towards normalisation [or pre-COVID condition].
- Flights remain a significant cost across the globe.
The efficiency of existing covid vaccines remains a concern, and some companies are no longer asking crews to renew or boost their vaccinations. However, ship managers still opt to replace unvaccinated crew members with vaccinated ones through normal crew changes. This allows unvaccinated crew members to get vaccines while on shore, though opportunities for carrying out vaccinations during port calls have decreased drastically.
Additionally, the contributing ship managers highlighted the following in relation to vaccinating seafarers:
- Opportunities for carrying out vaccinations during port calls have decreased drastically.
- Some ship managers are increasingly opting to replace unvaccinated crew members onboard with vaccinated seafarers through normal crew changes. This allows for seafarers to get vaccinated while onshore.
- Some companies are no longer asking their seafarers to renew or boost their vaccinations, seemingly because of lack of effectiveness in existing vaccines. Instead, they recommend using updated vaccines going forward, in case new and more dangerous variants emerge.