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Ship Detentions And Diversions triggered Crew Crisis
Team Sea and Coast | 04/07/2020

The times that we live in today are not exactly how it used to be before. Roughly 200,000 mariners still can’t get home due to travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Outdated, expired and extended crew contracts are piling up. Now, some port inspectors are beginning to balk and detain arriving vessels. Mr Belal Ahmed, chairman of the International Maritime Employers Council (IMEC), during a webinar presented by Capital Link on Wednesday quoted, “We are not just talking about a humanitarian crisis. This is turning into something that has a real impact on the global supply chain.”

The steps that would reduce effective ship capacity are More port detentions — and voyage diversions to facilitate crew changes and avoid detentions. Lower capacity would diminish shippers’ ability to move cargo across the world. It would also increase spot rates, a positive for owners of ships that aren’t detained or diverted. The “novelty” of crew contracts would become a competitive advantage for ship owners and a metric vetted by charterers.

New inspection policy

Based on the new policy that started Wednesday and runs through Oct. 1, if AMSA inspectors find any seafarers on board without a valid SEA, the master must arrange for repatriation. If there are not enough crew with valid SEAs on board to meet minimum manning requirements, AMSA won’t let the ship sail.

Voyage diversions out front

It may be requisite for a ship to divert from its trading route to drop off crew in a country allowing crew-change transits. Going forward, the more that PSCs implement rules and regulations like those in Australia, the more voyages will be diverted. This would elevate the trading inefficiency of the fleet, another tailwind for spot rates.

Detentions start in Australia

PSC inspectors in Australia look like they’re taking the lead. According to the AMSA policy, dry bulk could feel the initial rate effects of the crew-repatriation crisis.

“It appears that AMSA [the Australian Maritime Safety Authority] has applied its authority to prevent a ship from leaving because the crew complement fell short of the manning requirement,” Fabrizio Barcellona, assistant secretary of the seafarer section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

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