Looming Seafarer Shortage Will Challenge Carrier Profitability

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
August 11, 2014 - SCMR Editorial

The current shortage of officer corps seafarers is forecast to worsen and risks impacting ocean cargo carrier profitability, according to Drewry’s recently published Manning 2014 Annual Report.

Owners and managers need seafarers – and they want experience, expertise and quality. However, they do not have the resources to fund substantial rises in remuneration. In recent years owners and managers have been heavily cost focused as weak freight rate earnings have yielded poor returns.

Manning has become the natural target for cost cutting, being the single largest element in ship operating costs, with officer recruitment being directed towards the lowest cost source.

Drewry estimates the current officer supply to be 610,000, representing a shortfall of 19,000 personnel. This shortfall is forecast to rise to 21,700 by 2018 given that there will be a requirement for an additional 38,500 officers by this time.

“While ratings (crew) remuneration packages tend to follow International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) standard terms, officer earnings are more market driven,” says Drewry’s managing director Nigel Gardiner. “Manning costs look set to come under renewed upward pressure, putting a further squeeze on profitability unless owners are able to push freight rates higher.”

However, there is less supply pressure with ratings and this will have a moderating influence on wage negotiations currently underway between the ITF and International Bargaining Forum, which represents employers. The other factor in owners’ favor is that most seafarers are paid in U.S. dollars. When converted to domestic currency, seafarer earnings tend to compare well with other occupations.

“But the shortage of officers remains, especially among senior engineering ranks and for specialist ships such as LNG carriers,” warns Gardiner. “There is also a general drift towards shorter working tours and increased benefits which is putting further pressure on supply.”



About the Author

image
Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

An export rebound continues to build steam at the Port of Oakland, as it also continues to ease drayage congestion with innovative logistics management strategies.

Asset-light transportation and logistics services provider Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc. (RRTS) said this week it has expanded its less-than-truckload (LTL) service through the addition of outbound service from Vancouver, British Columbia. RRTS said that this service will open the western half of Canada to its LTL Freight’s outbound service.

Carloads saw a 16.1 percent, or 180,598, annual decline at 944,339, and intermodal containers and trailers in April at 1,972,828, were off 11.8 percent or 264,327 carloads annually.

Total intermodal volume movements—at 4,156,999—were up 2.0 percent annually and outpaced the 0.3 percent annual growth rate from the fourth quarter of 2015.

Industry analysts contend that the Teamsters are not declaring a strike outright, but rather, voting to give their leadership permission for such an action.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review. Patrick covers international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. Contact Patrick Burnson

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.