Thousands of seafarers may have to wait as early as December before they can get an appointment on their seaman’s book renewal application while shipping companies are on a hiring spree for people to man their ships.
CF Sharp’s legal counsel, Atty. Carmela Magpantay said that many of their crew applying for the renewal application of seaman’s book have to wait until December to get an appointment slot.
MARINA initially and discretely denied the scarcity of seaman’s book supply while refusing to give a statement.
However, many seafarers together with the Filipino Association for Mariners’ Employment, Inc. and various manning agencies felt the brewing problem already and confirmed that the shortage is indeed real.
According to Atty. Magpantay, their company alone needs around 920 people for hotel crew staff and 71 for deck and engine workers.
Filipino seafarers comprise 20% of the crew population for the cruise ships that they handle.
And this is just for their company.
Other seafarers from different manning agencies especially cruise ship manning agencies are also affected by the delay.
This could mean a serious loss of opportunity for our seafarers to serve on ships, especially during this time when the cruise industry is recovering at full speed.
The demand is high but we are not able to meet it.
“The demand is there, it’s unfortunate for those neophyte seafarers. How can they be processed without that?
Marina has been denying that and there is no admission from them until now. A lot of manning agency groups are calling out Marina several times for that glitch.
If there is no admission, how can we identify that there is indeed a persisting problem?” Magpantay reiterated.
Though we are the preferred choice, this quick recovery means that foreign shipowners won’t have the time to wait for us as the travel industry surges back to the pre-pandemic levels.
They have the option to hire other nationalities who are readily available.
Previously, MARINA acknowledged a delay in releasing the Seafarer’s Identity Document. They pointed out the disruptions in microchip supply due to the war between Ukraine and Russia.
But they are silent about the scarcity of seaman’s books.
The director of Marina’s Manpower Development Service, Dir. Arsenio Lingad II told the Daily Tribune that the agency is meeting to discuss the issue.
Still, MARINA’s department head for issuing seaman’s books declined to comment further as clearance from his superiors is required to do so.
Our seafaring industry now faces more challenges than ever. With the latest EMSA and IMO audits, our country could get blacklisted, directly impacting our seafarers’ employment.
Now, we have another problem at hand. As many shipping companies are surging back to pre-pandemic levels with a vengeance, our “ticket” to that opportunity is running out.
It’s clear that this kind of problem could have been prevented.
What is happening inside MARINA?
What’s the future of our Filipino Seafarers?
May the winds be in your favor.