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Friday, August 13, 2021 

According to the Global Maritime Forum, Covid-19 vaccinations of seafarers are critical in solving the crew change crisis, so as of August 2021, the Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator has been expanded to include the aggregate percentage of seafarers who have been vaccinated.

Data from August shows that only 15.3% of seafarers have been vaccinated. In comparison, the share of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in large shipping nations in Europe, North America and Asia is at around 50%. This shows that despite progress in seafarer vaccinations, their rates lag far behind those of large shipping nations.

Kasper Søgaard, MD and Head of Institutional Strategy and Development, Global Maritime Forum, said: “Seafarers must be recognised as key workers and given priority access to Covid-19 vaccines. This is key to protect seafarers’ wellbeing and the functioning of global supply chains. Seafarers are starting to get vaccinated, especially those from developed countries. Programmes in the US and some European countries are offering vaccines to international seafarers, but many more countries must follow suit to solve the crew change crisis.”

Ship managers identify the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Venezuela and Latvia as the areas with the largest challenge in securing the supply of vaccines.

The August Indicator confirms that the crew change crisis remains unresolved. The number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract has slightly increased from 8.8% to 9.0% in the last month the number of seafarers onboard vessels for over 11 months has risen from 1% to 1.3%. The Maritime Labour Convention states that the maximum continuous period a seafarer should serve on board a vessel without leave is 11 months.

The latest data could indicate that the crew change crisis has started to stabilise since the significant deterioration in the previous months. But the crew change crisis is far from resolved. Travel restrictions persist, in particular for seafarers from the Indian subcontinent and China, and many inbound flights have been cancelled, especially to Australia and the Philippines.

Ship managers also highlight that continual high infection rates and subsequent domestic lockdowns are challenging crew changes and causing disruption to crew movements and stretching resources, especially in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, the Philippine government has announced a travel ban for seafarers traveling from the UAE, Oman, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, further disrupting crew movements.

The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator builds on aggregated data from 10 leading ship managers: Anglo-Eastern, Bernhard Schulte, Columbia Shipmanagement, Fleet Management (FLEET), OSM, Synergy Marine, Thome, V.Group, Wallem, and Wilhelmsen Ship Management, which collectively have about 90,000 seafarers currently onboard. The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator is published once a month and builds on aggregated data provided by the ship managers to the Global Maritime Forum.

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