The rise in infections in China is cause for concern, as other countries reintroduce test requirements and restrictions against seafarers coming out of some Asian countries, posing new challenges to crew changes. While China repeals restrictions, other countries, including India and Japan, implement new test requirements and restrictions for seafarers arriving from specific Asian countries, because of the rise in infections.

“Ship managers’ report that the recent ease in restrictions in China is simultaneously encouraging and concerning. Furthermore, local and central governments in China are not yet aligned, and crew changes in China are thus very reliant on local agents to ensure compliance with regulations”, in accordance with the Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator.

The Neptune Declaration Crew Change Indicator which is published every quarter, and is based on data provided by ten ship managers to the Global Maritime Forum, shows for the fourth quarter of 2022, that 2.7% of seafarers are still stuck onboard vessels beyond contract expiration, a 0.6 percentage point drop compared to the third quarter, while the number of fully vaccinated seafarers is up 2.7 percentage points since October, bringing the number of vaccinated seafarers to 95.6%.

Photo: 81406025 © Scyther5 |

The number of seafarers kept from disembarking is the lowest since the Crew Change Indicator was introduced in May 2021. At the same time, the percentage of seafarers onboard vessels for more than 11 months fell to 0.2%, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points since the October indicator.

“The numbers trend in the right direction, but the figures still represent thousands of seafarers, who can’t get to work or journey home, as they were supposed to. The fundamental issues of seafarers not being treated as key workers also hasn’t changed, which will be a global problem if the pandemic resurges, or when we face a similar problem in the future,” says Susanne Justesen, Ph.D., Project Director Human Sustainability, Global Maritime Forum.

Furthermore, ship managers report that concerns remain over the possibility of new variants developing, and current vaccinations not being sufficiently effective. Some ship managers also note that they opt to replace non-vaccinated crew members, with vaccinated crew members when possible.