Dry bulk representative Intercargo is criticising charterers that prevent crew changes during the period of the charter. The organisation says it has learned that in a number of instances, charterers in the dry bulk sector won’t agree to crew changes despite the shipowner agreeing to accept the associated costs. 

Charterers have been seen to simply ignore relevant provisions and charter party clauses that could be employed, Intercargo writes in a statement. It has also been reported that bulk carriers changing crews in certain countries in South East Asia are being treated as ‘toxic’ by charterers for the 14 days following a crew change.

‘Intercargo strongly condemns the non-compassionate practices of some charterers of dry bulk carriers, in their rejection of crew change outright during the charter period. 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,’ the representative body states.

The organisation calls it ironic that this 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,’ Intercargo says.

The situation also creates safety concerns as seafarers must be well rested to avoid mistakes or errors during loading or discharging of cargo, ballasting and deballasting the vessel and carry out the multitude of associated tasks to ensure safe operation of the vessel.

‘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,’ Intercargo concludes.