Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Five Yearly Merchant Shipping Report Shows Changes in Staff Levels of Seafarers

BIMCO and ICS Release Notes Latest Geographic and Numerical Manning Statistics
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have released their latest five-year report on the state of the shipping industry’s global workforce, highlighting the imbalances between the supply of qualified and competent seafarers available for service on ships trading internationally, and the industry’s demand for seafarers to operate the world's merchant fleet. This newest report forecasts a serious future shortage in the supply of seafarers; a current shortfall of about 16,500 officers (2.1%) with a need for an additional 147,500 officers by 2025 to service the global merchant fleet.

BIMCO members stretch across 120 countries and account for around 65% of the world’s shipping tonnage and the ‘world merchant fleet’ for the purposes of the 2015 report was defined as 68,723 ships. The largest category was general cargo ships with 31% of the total ships by number, followed by bulk carriers with 16% and offshore supply vessels with 10%. The 2015 report has included information on the tanker industry and various types of offshore vessels to obtain an indication of the demand for seafarers by these sectors.

The global supply of maritime officers is forecast to increase steadily, but this is predicted to be outpaced by increasing demand. Some officer categories are in especially short supply, including engineer officers at management level and officers needed for specialised ships such as chemical, LNG and LPG carriers.

The report suggests that, in the past five years, the industry has made good progress with increasing recruitment and training levels and reducing officer wastage (i.e. retaining qualified seafarers and increasing the number of years which they serve at sea). However, unless training levels are increased significantly, the growth in demand for seafarers could result in a serious shortage in the total supply of officers. The report does estimate conversely that there is a current surplus of about 119,000 ratings (15.8%), with demand only having increased by about 1% since 2010.

Significantly, China is thought to have overtaken the Philippines as the largest single source of seafarers qualified for international trade, although the Philippines is still the largest source of ratings. However, data from international shipping companies suggests that the extent to which Chinese seafarers are available for international service may be more limited, with the Philippines and Russia seen as equally important sources of officers, followed closely by Ukraine and India. ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe commented:

“Without continuing efforts to promote careers at sea and improve levels of recruitment and retention, the report suggests it cannot be guaranteed that there will be an abundant supply of seafarers in the future.”

Copies of the report in full are available to purchase here.