Crew shortages are driving up seafarer wages, according to Danica Crewing Specialist’s CEO Henrik Jensen who has urged ship operators to be quick to offer jobs to seafarers who apply for them or risk losing out to a higher bidder.
The Ukrainian conflict, sanctions against Russia, and new Covid-19 outbreaks in the Far East are all impacting global crewing levels. “On top of the fallout from the Ukrainian situation, we have Russian seafarers subject to visa restrictions and travel limitations, and new coronavirus outbreaks in China which have halted many Chinese crews from joining ships. Together, all this is reducing the global availability of crews and causing a recruitment and manning crisis without precedence.”
Not surprisingly these shortages are pushing up prices, says Jensen.
“We are seeing increases in remuneration across all ranks and vessel types. For some ranks these have been very steep rises indeed.”
Favourable charter markets for many vessel types have also encouraged some owners to be more generous in the hunt for the best crews, he adds, and this is contributing to current wage increases. At present, seafarers who are ready to return to sea are often in the fortunate position of having multiple job offers to choose from.
He says the volatile job market is leading to a rise in fake CVs. “This shortage of crew encourages some applicants to ‘upgrade’ their CV by claiming fake sea service in a higher rank – and even print fake sea records and stamps in their seaman’s book, hoping they can cheat a desperate employer into accepting them without proper checks in order to just get a vacancy covered.”
With Ukraine and Russia together accounting for 15% of the world’s officer supply, the impact of the war in Ukraine has been felt.
“When the war started in February about 60-70% of the Ukrainian seafarers were already onboard. Some of these seafarers asked to be signed off to return home to support their families or to join the Ukrainian military forces. However, most of the crews onboard requested to extend their tenure.”
“Of course Ukrainian seafarers cannot stay onboard forever. The trend now is that, if their families have fled Ukraine for a European country, the seafarers want to be reunited with their loved ones. However, currently it is common that seafarers ask for a relatively short vacation of one to two months as they want to return to sea quickly to secure a salary and funds to enable their families to settle in the new country, or to rebuild their damaged homes in Ukraine,” he says.