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2022 was the worst year for seafarer abandonment

RightShip A seafarer looking out to sea
Unpaid wages to abandoned seafarers over the past 20 years has topped $40m as 2022 became the worst year on record for seafarer abandonment.

The statistics are included in RightShip’s Seafarer Abandonment report, which states that over 1,682 seafarers from 103 vessels were abandoned in the course of 2022. The leading countries for seafarer abandonment were the UAE, Spain and Turkey, according to the report.

The new high in reported abandonments last year follows five consecutive years of increase in the number of cases. In 2016, 22 cases of abandonment were reported. Over the past 20 years, 9,925 cases have been reported with unpaid monies owed to seafarers topping $40m over the same period.

The recent increase in abandonments has been attributed to conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steen Lund, CEO of RightShip, said: “When abandoned on vessels, seafarers are left alone to fend for themselves while corporations avoid their responsibilities. When those who destroy the lives of seafarers also employ them, it is, in all senses, deeply troubling. However, as regulators and RightShip begin to clamp down on due diligence at all points in the supply chain, there will be catastrophic financial implications for those who partner with irreputable ship managers.”

As a digital platform focused on improving ESG compliance across safety, crew welfare and environmental performance, Rightship has added crew abandonments to its vetting checks for charterers.

“We already identify vessels guilty of abandonment linked to a company in the RightShip Platform. We cannot and will not recommend them to our customers for voyages and we mark them unacceptable during the vetting process. Operators who have little regard for the welfare and human rights of their crew must not be allowed to continue to operate. But we know we can do more, and so can the more than 1,000 ship management companies that have not declared their hand by refraining from completing the Crew Welfare Self-Assessment,” said Steen.

RightShip’s Crew Welfare Self-Assessment is a bid to have companies look at and improve their crew welfare standards, and alongside the crew abandonment data can be used by charterers to pick vessel operators with commitments to crew welfare standards.

As ESG standards are introduced and enforced by banks and larger and listed companies, the pressure on vessel operators to demonstrate their crew welfare credentials is increasing.