Owners are being charged hundreds of thousands of dollars to get crews changed in India

Shipping companies are being hit by a “ridiculous” slew of sky-high charges to get crews changed in India, with owners being tapped for six-digit dollar sums to complete formalities at local ports, Splash has learnt.

India’s under pressure shipping minister, Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya, vowed yesterday to start repatriating stranded crews by the end of the month.

There are more than 20,000 Indian crew around the world waiting to get home, having worked beyond their contract lengths, but stymied by global travel restrictions brought about because of Covid-19.

New Delhi has been facing more vocal pressure to resolve the situation in recent weeks with mainstream media in India increasingly following the cases of stranded crew.

The crew of the China Dawn arrived at Cochin last week and are now in quarantine, having made the landmark decision earlier this month to divert the vessel’s route from Singapore to head home, citing the mental strain of working prolonged weeks at sea. Other ships are now following suit.

The PSU Seventh, a 262,779 dwt ore carrier, belonging to Singapore’s RGL Shipping, has also diverted to Cochin, scheduled to arrive in 10 days’ time. Six of the crew on the ship that was initially bound for China from Brazil, have been at sea for more than 12 months.

Agents in India are cashing in from these unexpected new calls with charges for the crew change for the PSU Seventh coming in at $97,599.80 (see below).

Wallem Group CEO Frank Coles, in the latest edition of the Maritime CEO Leader Series, hit out at the costs involved of getting crews changed in India at the moment.

“The authorities in India are charging anywhere from $90,000 to $180,000 to change a crew which includes the crew change, the Covid testing, the isolation, all of these exorbitant things that are suddenly very, very expensive in India compared to anywhere else,” Coles said in the shipmanagement special video produced in association with Ocean Technologies Group.

Once factoring in other costs, such as diverting a vessel, then crew changes in India are now costing in the region of $500,000, something Coles said was “ridicolous and daylight robbery”.

Global trade unions have given governments and the shipping industry until June 15 to fix the crew repatriation problem.

Captain Sanjay Prashar, the chairman of the Indian Maritime Foundation, has sent the government a special seafarers charter flight proposal for May 25, using Qatar Airways and Doha as a hub to get crews back home.

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. Totally disgusting of people trying to take advantage of the situation. I hope they can be named and shamed. There’s no shortage of agents in India, so it would be good to know which ones to avoid.

  2. Looks like COVID makes port mafia even worse than before. The general rule was to extort crew members. But now even ship managers see their pockets threatened.

  3. I am Indian and presently onboard as Chief Engineer. I am also sailing beyond my contract period. But these type of agents are spoiling image of India. Actually in this situation these agents and the authorities must be more generous to the ship’s crew. But they get a way to mint money.
    These are new pirates . I am really ashamed. Sorry guys all Indians are not like these pirates.

    1. At least these gangsters redistribute wealth, something the Indian government does not do!

  4. Sam ,

    Hi, the story is misleading. The cost is purely coming from the following. COVID test for crew 100 dollars per test. Waiting time for result about 2days, crew is kept in hotel, then one crew one car, if the crew is from North India and he has to travel 2000 km then the cost for the car to go and come back becomes part of this cost. We have done over 200 crew changes cost ranges from 600 to 1800 per crew depending on travel distance.

    1. No misleading at all!! Your CEO wants cut costs with you making crew changes by bycicle.

  5. The government has a very big role in this from goa currently on ship… the goan government is forcing seafarers to go mandatory paid quarantine even after testing negative where as indian nationals coming from from other countries are sent directly home quarantine if tested what the fuck is this…this is the governments day light robbery..

  6. The cost of crew change has drastically gone down in the past few days.
    Please see timeline of @PrasharSdp on twitter for latest crew change costs in india.
    Its down by atleast 50 %.

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