Cost of Crew Change Skyrockets Due to Pandemic

Crew members aboard a ship, engaged in navigation and operations, while diligently following health and safety protocols by wearing masks.

As predicted, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is driving up the cost for crew changes. With airfare costs on the rise and quarantine restrictions in place, it is likely to keep rising too.

According to Henrik Jensen, the managing director of Danica Crewing Specialists, each seafarer\’s crew change is now in the range of $2,000, or twice the price seen last year. This means that moving one person to the vessel and sending one person home now costs (on average) about $4,000.

Jensen is strongly advising vessel operators to set aside extra funds in their budgets to cover this expense for the coming year.

The new costs include multi-day hotel stays for the oncoming and offsigning crewmembers, PCR testing, extra agents\’ expenses, and extra airfare costs.

“Due to COVID-19 and delays in repatriating seafarers, the entire crew planning system is destroyed and crew rotation patterns are all over the place,” Jensen said.

“It will take a lot of time and effort by crew managers and ship owners, and need the assistance of the international community and governments, for the regular crew change system to be re-established.”

According to recent data, roughly two dozen countries around the world currently support crew change on permissive terms. About 80 others allow changes subject to screening and locally-determined conditions.

Jensen says that the higher costs per change were offset in the first half of the year because of the global lockdown and the ensuing crew change crisis. Not many changes were occurring due to national-level restrictions, so charges for airfare and lodging were less frequent than usual.

As the lockdown has eased, crew changes have increased in number, but it will be a long time before the system returns to normal, Jensen cautions. The amount of staff effort required to carry out each crew change is high, and the backlog is long.

Recent Blogs