Working on deck

‘Crew changeovers have become costly with disruptions expected into 2021’

Due to the corona crisis, ship operators are faced with extra measures to ensure safe crew changeovers. These measures are proving costly as well as tricky warns crewing specialist Danica. At the same time, the organisation expects manning of ships to be disrupted well into 2021.

Henrik Jensen of Danica Crewing Services reports that they recently placed a crew of nineteen of Ukrainian and Filipino nationality on to a vessel and the necessary pandemic-related procedures cost some 10,000 US dollars, which the ship owner had to cover.

The charges included Covid-19 PCR tests of all crew members, as well as additional local transport, hotel accommodation and food allowances as the test was not available in the seafarers’ home town so they had to travel to another city to get the test done and wait there for the result before they could travel, gaining additional “fit-for-travel” medical certificates too, as required by the authorities in the joining port.

Complex process

‘It is essential that everyone strictly follows the IMO protocols as the shipping industry strives to return to normal business and we are grateful that many countries are now recognising the essential role of seafarers and enabling them to travel to and from ships,’ comments Jensen. ‘However, still many countries are not allowing crew changes and the rules under which crew changes are allowed vary from country to country making crew changes very complex.’

As Eastern Europeans are relatively free to travel, Danica has seen a significant increase in requests for crew from owners who are finding that travel restrictions in their regular crew supply countries are proving a barrier. At the same time, the crewing agency has experienced a doubling of applications from seafarers who are anxious to get back to sea as they have been home for a long time without an income and they are now experiencing financial distress.

‘We are trying to get the these two ends to meet and we have extremely busy days in our recruitment departments,’ says Jensen.

Disruptions into 2021

Jensen agrees with the recently-expressed view from the Greek Shipowners Association which predicts that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to disrupt the manning of vessels well into 2021. He warns: ‘The entire crew planning process is disrupted. Crew returning after a long period onboard want a longer vacation and will be reluctant to return to sea soon, which in turn impacts those onboard who are due to be relieved. It will take long time before we come back to a steady crewing scheduling.’

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.