Drewry’s latest Manning Annual Review and Forecast has found that maritime manning costs have risen moderately in 2018 following several years of stagnation.
A recovery in most cargo shipping markets has taken some pressure off vessel operators, enabling employers to lift wage levels, particularly amongst the market-related officer ranks.
Drewry has estimated that aggregate manning costs rose by around 1% in 2018, with both ratings and officer pay rising by the same margin.
This contrasted with 2017, when average costs rose by just 0.2%.
Wage growth has emerged despite the shortfall in officer numbers receding to more manageable levels.
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However, the shortage is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, despite projected stagnation in the vessel fleet.
Martin Dixon, Drewry’s director of research products, said: “This follows several years when average seafarer pay had flat lined, because the depressed state of most cargo markets had made wage increases almost unaffordable.
“Owners were forced to make all attempts to stem rising financial losses.”
Drewry also expects average manning costs to rise moderately over the next five years, with some acceleration anticipated towards the end of the forecast period as backup ratios rise to cope with longer leave periods.
Courtesy of Drewry's Manning Annual Review and Forecast 2018/19
Meanwhile, officer supply growth is projected to slow further.
By contrast, ratings supply has always been in surplus and are anticipated to remain the same.
Dixon added: “The growth in supply of seafarers has been slowing and is projected to slacken further over the next five years.
“This slowdown in the available maritime workforce has important implications for shipowners, particularly in terms of recruitment, retention and wage costs.”