The first Quarterly Neptune Declaration Indicator reports continued improvements on vaccination rates and seafarers increasingly being able to perform crew changes outside of China and get crew off board after the expiration of their contract.
The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator for the third quarter of 2022, shows that the number of seafarers onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract has decreased from 4.2% to 3.3% since the last Indicator was published in July. The number of seafarers onboard vessels for more than 11 months has remained stable at 0.3% since May 2022, down from 1.3% in August 2021, when the numbers were at the highest level. The Third Quarter Indicator also shows that the aggregate percentage of seafarers from the sample who have been vaccinated has risen from 89.3% to 92.8% during the past quarter, which is an increase of 3.5 percentage points since July.
Ship managers report that the situation remains largely stable since the last indicator in July, with fewer crew change restrictions, flight cancellations and lock downs, even though the situation in Ukraine still causes delays overall. China remains the main challenge due to continued severe restrictions and lock downs, with non-Chinese crew still being prohibited from crew changes in Chinese ports. Japan also maintains a somewhat strict protocol requiring review and approval of crew movements at first Japanese port, which causes delays especially when vessels performed crew changes within 14 days prior arrival Japan, while other countries, such as Brazil, still refuse to disembark non vaccinated crew. Finally, ship managers continue to report growing recruitment efforts to ensure the necessary crew onboarding.
Vaccination rates continue to grow above and beyond national averages, although ship managers also report concerns about the duration of existing vaccination immunity, continued risks of new variants and expected rising numbers in coming months. Most ship managers experience little resistance towards vaccination among their crew, yet some ship managers also see a certain degree of vaccination fatigue emerging. Ship managers still actively pursue to vaccinate all unvaccinated crew members, some ship managers now report vaccination rates of 100% among existing crew, while also having unvaccinated seafarers awaiting vaccinations in home countries.
“The Crew Change Indicator for the third quarter of 2022 shows that the crew change challenges are diminishing globally, however with regional challenges pertaining in Asia, notably in China, due to continued Covid restrictions despite record high vaccination rates overall. The most recent Indicator thus suggests that the global crew change situation has stabilized,” says Ph.D. Susanne Justesen, Project Director Human Sustainability, Global Maritime Forum.
The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator builds on aggregated data from ten leading ship managers: Anglo- Eastern, Bernhard Schulte, Columbia Shipmanagement, Fleet Management (FLEET), OSM, Synergy Marine, Thome, V.Group, Wallem Ship Management, and Wilhelmsen Ship Management which collectively have about 100,000 seafarers currently onboard.
The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator is published every quarter and builds on aggregated data provided by the ship managers to the Global Maritime Forum. The data is used to calculate a weighted average of the percentage of seafarers who have been onboard vessels beyond the expiry of their contract of employment, a weighted average of the percentage of seafarers who have been onboard vessels for over 11 months, and a weighted average of the percentage of seafarers who have been vaccinated.
As top ship managers are making significant efforts – and are often better placed – in facilitating crew changes, the Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator cannot be used directly to calculate the full numbers of seafarers impacted by the crew change crisis. Likewise, the calculated percentage of seafarers who have been vaccinated is likely to overestimate the actual proportion of vaccinated seafarers.
Reference: Global Maritime Forum