Danica Crewing Specialists said that salaries are rising by at least 10 percent as the crew employment market tips in the favour of seafarers.
The findings were published in Danica’s 2023 Seafarers’ Survey. Across senior officer ranks salaries have increased some 10-15 percent, regardless of nationality, compared to its 2021 results. Salary figures are particularly strong for the top four ranks on dry cargo vessels.
The wage gap is narrowing between Filipino and Eastern European officers, while Indian senior officers on dry cargo vessels are receiving salaries 10 percent higher than their Eastern European counterparts.
Danica said that an increased salary is the most common reason for seafarers switching shipping companies. Some 35 percent of crew who changed employer recently did so for a higher salary, although 26 percent moved for a more suitable joining time. 98 percent of respondents said they check vacancies while on home leave.
Henrik Jensen, ceo of Danica Crewing Specialists, speaking during the Crew Connect Global Conference in Manila, Philippines, confirmed that, “these are all indications that the crew employment market has tipped to be in the seafarers’ favour”. He added that “the industry is witnessing “a wage spiral like we saw leading up to the previous financial crisis”, the root causes being a “a general shortage of very competent seafarers and a better financial situation for most vessel owners.”
The surplus of job opportunities means seafarers can afford to be picky.
Seafarer shortages are more evident in certain ranks. The Danica survey identified bosuns, cooks and fitters as being in high demand, with salaries up 10 percent as a result, while Ukrainian fitters have had pay increases of up to 30 percent due to a huge shortage.
Seafarers remain largely satisfied with their careers at sea with 80 percent saying they would recommend their employer to a friend, while 50 percent would recommend seafaring to their children. But the lure of a shore position is also strong with 70 percent of respondents saying they would be interested in working ashore.
In the face of such strong competition for crew, owners must ensure their seafarers are treated well. Yet the Danica survey revealed that as many as 36 percent of the respondents, drawn from the worldwide crewing marketplace, claimed their salary was not paid on time – a rise of 7 percent since 2021 – with 8 percent saying they did not receive their salary in full.
23 percent of seafarers who responded to the Danica survey said they had experienced a shortage of food or drinking water during their recent voyages. In comparison to previous Danica surveys, this response is slowly but steadily increasing (up from 20 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021).
Headquartered in Hamburg, Danica is now present in all the major international seafaring hubs, including India and Manila, as well as Cyprus, Ukraine and Georgia. A large proportion of the 6,228 seafarers who responded to the survey, which was conducted between May and October 2023, were Ukrainian nationals.
Responding to a specific question in the survey in relation to Ukraine, 94 percent of seafarers reported that they have fled Ukraine as a result of the war with Russia. Of these, 80 percent fled with their families. However, almost 75 percent said they intend to return to Ukraine when the war is over and it is safe to do so.