A dearth of seafarers is forcing pay upwards and also increasing the number of faked CVs doing the rounds of vessel operators.

The shortage of available crew members is due to the Ukraine war and Chinese lockdowns, according to Danica Crewing Specialist’s chief executive Henrik Jensen.

He is urging shipping companies to snap up genuine applicants quickly in an inflationary market, or risk losing staff to a higher bidder.

“On top of the fall-out from the Ukrainian situation, we have Russian seafarers subject to visa restrictions and travel limitations, and new coronavirus outbreaks in China which have halted many Chinese crews from joining ships,” the CEO said.

“Together, all this is reducing the global availability of crews and causing a recruitment and manning crisis without precedence,” he added.

Jensen said increases in pay are being seen across all ranks and ship types.

“For some ranks these have been very steep rises indeed,” he added.

Strong charter markets for some kinds of ships have also encouraged some owners to be more generous in the hunt for the best crews, Jensen believes.

Seafarers wanting to return to work often have multiple job offers on the table.

The volatile jobs market is also leading to a rise in fake CVs.

Cheating desperate employers?

“This shortage of crew encourages some applicants to ‘upgrade’ their CV by claiming fake sea service in a higher rank — and even print fake sea records and stamps in their seaman’s book, hoping they can cheat a desperate employer into accepting them without proper checks in order to just get a vacancy covered,” Jensen revealed.

Danica said it uses a robust screening and vetting process for every applicant, including verifying sea service with previous employers, to protect against such fraud.

With Ukraine and Russia together accounting for 15% of the world’s officer supply, the impact of the war in Ukraine has been felt.

However, shortages have so far been diluted by the willingness of seafarers to remain on board for longer periods.

“Of course Ukrainian seafarers cannot stay on board forever. The trend now is that, if their families have fled Ukraine for a European country, the seafarers want to be reunited with their loved ones,” Jensen said.

A common theme is crew members asking for a relatively short holiday of one or two months before going back to sea to earn money for their families.