Supply Lines: Looming crew shortages (

The supply crunch that has dogged the global shipping industry could worsen before it gets better, with new challenges ranging from crew retention to wage inflation.

That’s a warning from executives at Wah Kwong Maritime Transport, a privately owned shipping company based in Hong Kong. They caution that contrasting approaches to containing the virus continues to disrupt the turnover and repatriation of seafarers landing at ports around the world.

“There’s a real squeeze that we’re starting to see in terms of the disappearing applications for seafarers,” William Fairclough, managing director at Wah Kwong, said in an interview. “For certain types of ships, it may become very difficult to actually find the crew and you may get delays because of that. That’s conceivable, it’s never been the case before.”

The mental toll for seafarers on the front line of the pandemic disruption and concerns over travelling to countries deemed high risk for the virus are helping to drive wages higher, according to Hing Chao, executive chairman of Wah Kwong.
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