The crew change Indicator highlighted a small improvement of the situation and a significant increase in vaccination rates.
owever, despite the positive trend, the Indicator notes that “the industry still faces many challenges in repatriating and sourcing crew.”
Namely, new national lockdowns, an increase in flight cancellations, travel restrictions, and increasingly strict crew change requirements, especially in Asia, are preventing seafarers from going back home after completing their contracts. These developments come in spite of a strong increase in vaccine rates during the last month, ship managers report.
The latest Indicator shows that the number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract has decreased to 7.1% from 7.9% in the previous month, whilst the number of seafarers onboard vessels for over 11 months has remained the same, at 1.0%
says the Crew Change Indicator.
The most positive trend reported by the November Indicator is the 9.9% increase in seafarer vaccinations, from 31% in October to 41% in November. Despite limited access to vaccines in large seafaring nations such as the Philippines, the number of ports that now provide vaccines to international seafarers have helped them gain access to vaccines outside their home countries.
Nonetheless, challenges remain as governments demand seafarers to be vaccinated with particular vaccines to ensure crew changes. This has caused seafarers to end up being over-vaccinated with different vaccines.
It is positive to see the numbers are slowly improving and there has been good progress with seafarer vaccinations. Nevertheless, the numbers hide the persistent difficulties of global crew changes in repatriating crew and onboarding seafarers, which is likely to continue.
stated Kasper Søgaard, Managing Director, Head of Institutional Strategy and Development, Global Maritime Forum.
What is more, ship managers also report how some countries are placing stricter crew change requirements, which has resulted in cancellations or delays on repatriating or onboarding seafarers.
In fact, some ship managers reported how the onboarding and repatriation of Chinese seafarers is becoming increasingly difficult, because of stricter Chinese Government isolation requirements on seafarers post sign off and prior to repatriation. This comes to add upon new lockdowns, flight cancellations, and high infection rates worldwide, which continue to pose challenges when on- and offboarding.