bulk carrier

Dry Bulk Trade Group Slams Charterers for Preventing Crew Changes

Mike Schuler
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November 4, 2020

By Lukasz Z / Shutterstock

Charterers in the dry bulk sector have been preventing much needed crew changes from taking place despite owners agreeing to pay the associated costs, according to INTERCARGO, the leading association of dry bulk sector operators.

The trade association said in some of these instances, charterers have simply ignored relevant provisions and charter party clauses or rejected crew changes outright. “Indeed, it has been reported that bulk carriers changing crews in certain countries in SE Asia are being treated as ‘toxic’ by charterers for the 14 days following crew change,” INTERCARGO said in a statement strongly condemning the charterers participating in the practice.

“This flies in the face of industry wide efforts to offer seafarers the essential rest that they have been so long without during the COVID-19 pandemic, and which is essential to the safe operation of the shipping sector,” INTERCARGO said.

The latest estimates are that some 400,000 seafarers are stuck at sea working beyond the scope employment agreements. A similar number are stuck shoreside, unable to work or earn an income due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

“Ironically, this appalling practice has been reported primarily in the dry bulk sector, where the prevention of seafarer fatigue is of special concern. Bulk carriers on tramp trading routes call at many more ports than other shipping sectors, piling added strain on an already fatigued workforce with no hope of crew change. A crew must be well rested to operate a ship in compliance with the voyage instructions from the charterers: to load and discharge the cargo, ballast and de-ballast, wash, dry and present cargo holds, open/close hatch covers and carry out the multitude of associated tasks to ensure safe operation of the vessel. It is very disappointing that dry cargo charterers do not understand or wish to take responsibility for the concept of the common venture which exists under a time-charter,” INTERCARGO said.

“INTERCARGO wishes to state unequivocally that this issue goes further than the charterer’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) or environmental, social and governance (ESG) responsibilities, and displays a clear lack of appreciation of one of the greatest humanitarian crises to affect the maritime sector,” it added.

The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO) represents the interests of dry bulk shipowners controlling close to 2,400 registered ships out of more than 11,000 ships in the global dry bulk fleet, corresponding to over 25% of the global dry bulk fleet basis deadweight.

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