Bangladeshis and Indonesians are next to be crew change casualties
The current situation of Indian seafarers being sidelined for vaccinations and jobs is not expected to resolve in the near future. That leaves the Bangladeshis and Indonesians being the preferred nationalities for crew change, and possibly the next to suffer the same predicament working beyond contractual periods.
Hike in extended onboard stays
The second Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator for June 2021 revealed signs of worsened crew change compared to May 2021 – based on data collected from 10 ship managers. These 10 ship managers are enterprises responsible for more than 90,000 seafarers across all major segments.
June’s report reflected extended stays onboard beyond contract expiries raised to 7.4 per cent from 5.8 per cent in May 2021. However, the number of seafarers stuck onboard beyond 11 months halved to 0.4 per cent from 0.8 per cent. These numbers are not surprising given the pandemic overwhelming the globe. With vaccine shortages and border restrictions, crew change is not expected to be robust as before, though the industry and various bodies can be grateful for the decreased number of stranded seafarers.
Shift in casualty saturation
Indian seafarers are now either waiting for their first jabs or second jabs. Industry estimates quoted 14 per cent of Indian seafarers received their first dose, and only 1 per cent received their second. Captain Sanjay Prashar, Managing Director at V R Maritime Services in Mumbai remarked, “Shortage of vaccines means some job losses for seafarers.” The National Union of Seafarers of India seconded that the pandemic battering India gave other nationalities an edge over jobs.
Despite other nationalities’ benefiting from the job abundance, it should not be a cause of joy yet. The man-made drought of experienced Indian seafarers is a direct implication on the current population nationalities. Onboard extensions and crew change crisis will be passed to them. In the worst possible scenario, the Bangladeshis and Indonesians might be put off joining the industry for the same reasons.