Waiting for months for available flights is one, paying them to wait is something else…
The crew change crisis is not new and many activists along with maritime bodies are aggressively lobbying for vaccination to facilitate smooth transits. There are more losses to suffer when countries are in lockdown.
Prolonged durations onboard
The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator for July revealed the the number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contracts continued to rise from 7.2 per cent to 8.8 per cent in June 2021. The number of seafarers onboard for over 11 months has risen from 0.4 per cent to 1 per cent as well.
Evidently, COVID-19 and its new variants are the culprits. This lethal virus that the world is fighting against resulted in lockdowns or border restrictions to the point of carriers skipping the affected locations, if not unable to berth and left drifting in the waters resulting in delays. To date, the hardest hit is Asia, and crew change has become close to impossible. While some countries are offering vaccinations, the distribution is still not keeping up with the degree of the crew change crisis.
Danger of overboard restrictions
When countries impose lockdowns or border restrictions, the crew are unfortunately left to wait till further notice of signing off and even flying home. The damages involve the ship manning agencies as well. The stranded crew would have to wait and be paid for the extra days without having to work. Hence, if the wait is as long as 2 months, the sum will be substantial.
The ongoing issue of stranded crew leads to further implications. In an interview, Intercargo’s Vice-Chairman Spyros Tarasis lamented: “The problems lay with the airlines, visas and health authorities. Nothing is being done, and very soon the shipping industry itself may well be obliged or forced to stop the trading of cargoes essential for welfare and sustaining the smooth running of societies worldwide.”
Marine Online News Team
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