Crew abandonment cases closing in on another dire record

Cases of crew abandonment are on the rise despite most shipping markets being at very healthy levels. 2022 is on track to register the highest number of seafarers ditched by owners on record based on data from the first seven months of the year.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is seeing a rise in the number of seafarers reporting non-payment of wages for periods of two months or longer, which meets the International Labour Organization’s definition of abandonment.

“Seafarers might think it’s normal to go unpaid for a couple of months, waiting for a shipowner to sort out financing, but they need to be aware that non-payment can also be a sign that a shipowner is about to cut them loose and leave them abandoned,” warned Steve Trowsdale, the ITF’s inspectorate coordinator.

The ITF reported 85 cases of abandonment to the ILO last year, an historic high with that record very likely to be surpassed in 2022. In many of those 2021 cases, abandoned crew had already been waiting on several weeks’ or months’ of unpaid wages.

Last year, union ship inspectors recovered $37.6m in unpaid wages owed to seafarers, the ITF revealed in figures published on Friday.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. The abandoned Mariners’ sister ships should be reported to every Government with a coast line, so that similar ships could be arrested and expropriated to cover the costs of repatriating the abandoned seafarers

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