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SEAFARER wage rates are expected to accelerate as the officer supply and demand imbalance worsens, according to global shipping consultancy Drewry.

The company’s latest Manning Annual Review and Forecast report suggests that by 2027 sustained fleet growth will lead to the highest shortfall of officers to crew the world’s merchant fleet in over a decade.

Drewry expects the shortfalls to have implications for hiring and future manning cost inflation. It estimates the current officer supply shortfall will equate to around 5% of the global pool.

Though this figure is “broadly manageable” in practical terms for vessel operators, there is reportedly a heightened risk with regard to the war in Ukraine, which may further limit the supply of officers.

By 2027, the supply and demand gap is expected to have widened to a deficit equating to more than 8% of the global officer pool despite an anticipated uptick in growth and training rates as COVID restrictions ease.

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The supply of ratings has also been slowing, however Drewry said employers are less concerned by this as it remains elastic to increases in demand as the global fleet expands.

“Recruiting and retaining quality officers with experience on sophisticated vessel types is likely to be the first pressure point in a tightening supply pool,” Drewry’s head of manning research Rhett Harris said.

“Employers need to ensure that a career at sea is an attractive career option for ambitious and well-educated people,” he said.

According to Drewry, worldwide consumer price inflation is forecast to be higher than 7% in 2022 before falling back to around 3% by 2027.

At the same time, seafarer wage rates are expected to increase by around 2.5% each year from around 1.5% in 2022.

However, Drewry said there will be increased volatility by rank, nationality and vessel type outside these averages.

“Accelerating manning costs are being driven by inflationary macroeconomic pressures and rising officer shortfall,” Mr Harris said.

“Together with higher insurance and supply chain costs, these pressures will further fuel higher vessel operating costs over the medium term.”

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