Seafarer shortage warning post-pandemic

The global crew change crisis could lead to a shortage of seafarers if exhausted crew choose to leave the shipping industry rather than risk another long period trapped at sea, the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) has warned.

Rear Admiral (retired) Peter Brady, MAJ director general, advised of the potential danger to the shipping industry if there is a mass exodus of crews from their seagoing jobs to take up shore-based employment which gives them more time with their families.

“If seafarers are not available to operate the ships, those vessels will simply lay alongside idle. Does the world need that now?”, he mused in a release sent to Splash.

This will have a long-term impact on the quality of crew joining the industry

Brady chaired the IMO’s Standard of Training and Watchkeeping (STW) Sub-committee – now Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) Sub-committee – for 10 years, and is currently Jamaica’s chief technical delegate to the IMO.

Shipping industry leaders and legislators should come together again to discuss the situation, Brady is urging.

He said: “It seems that it is time for another global summit to include the United Nations, its relevant agencies such as the IMO, International Labour Organization, industry bodies such as the International Chamber of Shipping, and even the International Civil Aviation Organization. It should not be a talk shop but one which pledges to set goals for the industry and then sends a compelling document to the global financial institutions to indicate the impact on global trade if seafarers are not available to crew ships.”

Earlier this month Brady and the Jamaican maritime authority put forward a concept for a set of global crew change hubs as a short-term solution to the barriers presented by global travel restrictions.

The issue of enticing quality crew post-Covid was one of the main themes in a shipmanagement survey carried on this site last month.

“The fallout effect of this pandemic has been very damaging for the future recruitment of seafarers,” warned Carl Schou, CEO and president of Wilhelmsen Ship Management.

Kishore Rajvanshy, the veteran head of Fleet Management, commented: “I have no doubt, this will have a long-term impact on the quality of crew joining the industry in the foreseeable future.”

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. There will never be a shortage of crew.
    There are plenty crew waiting the world over as anybody and everybody can obtain a piece of paper.

  2. I have plenty of friends who, having spent much of 2020 stuck in steel boxes wondering if they would ever get home, are now at home, after spending weeks in quarantine, and are in no great rush to get onto a plane or three, un-vaccinated, and stick themselves in a steel box once more. They haven’t left the sea – yet. But the longer they stay at home…

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