Crewing costs rise due to vaccination delays and travel restrictions

Crewing costs are rising and crew shortages are beginning to be seen due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and vaccination delays, warns crewing agency Danica Crewing Services.

Illustration. Image Courtesy: IMO/Flickr

“Not unexpectedly … when there is a shortage the cost goes up and we now see shipping companies offering salaries 10-20% higher than the average market levels or providing a high joining bonus,” Henrik Jensen, Danica Managing Director, pointed out.

He added that the Eastern European crewing market is under extreme pressure as companies turn to places like Ukraine and Russia to replace officers and seafarers unable to travel from places like India and the Philippines.

The crewing agency also stressed that as we enter the period of summer holidays, the situation could get worse. The following months are considered as a “low season” period in terms of crew availability.

Furthermore, one of the major problems is vaccination delays due to vaccine shortages. Many seafarers want to be vaccinated before returning to the sea and some of them are waiting for the second dose of vaccine.

“In places like Russia vaccines are generally available. However, in other countries, such as Ukraine, the demand for vaccine outstrips supply resulting in a longer waiting time. We are finding that seafarers, especially those who do not sign up immediately as their leave begins, are waiting 4-6 weeks to be vaccinated,” Jensen stated.

“Once they get their first injection they have to wait a further 8-10 weeks for the second one, and then an additional 2-3 weeks for their immunity to be fully effective.”

“This means many seafarers are now out of the loop for 16 to 20 weeks, which is about double their usual leave period and is compounding the global shortage of seafarers.”

Jansen is urging governments to recognize seafarers as the key workers and notes that the one-shot vaccine version would be a better option for seafarers qualified to travel and work aboard the ships.

In November 2020, Danica warned that Individual crew changes are costing up to an additional $2,000, doubling the price since last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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