Shipping recruiter Faststream is warning that shipowners that are ordering new LNG carriers could face serious difficulties in finding experienced superintendents to run their new ships in the coming months and years, particularly in Europe. The U.K.-headquartered Fastream says that it has already seen triple the number of vacancies for shore-based technical staff with LNG carrier experience in 2011 compared with all of last year.
“With the capacity of the LNG market said to rise from 300 bn cu m to 380 bn cu m by 2015,” says Fastream Group CEO Mark Charman, “I believe that shipowners are going to be hard pressed to find the right people to manage these complex vessels. This has always been a specialist market, but the latest DFDE LNG vessels are equipped with electric engines and using propulsion systems which have not been around for long, so finding experienced LNG people to run these vessels is going to be a real challenge.”
According to maritime blogger Tim Colton, who tracks shipbuilding for Marine Log, there are currently 19 LNG carriers under construction at shipyards in Korea, Japan and China. The shipowners who have LNG carrier tonnage on order are Taiwan Marine, Brunei/Shell Marine, Chevron, Mitsui/NYK/Teekay, Sonangel, Tokyo LNG Transport, China LNG Shipping, GasLog LNG, and LNG Marine Transport. Crewsizes for LNG ships are usually about 26 to crew personnel.
“Seafarers serving on LNG vessels are among the most highly paid in the shipping industry and luring them ashore has always been difficult,” says Charman. “In the U.K., the impact of the immigration cap has meant that importing experienced superintendents from outside Europe is no longer an option and the problem is only going to get worse.”
According to Faststream, many shipowners are now recruiting people with general tanker experience rather than those that specialize in LNG to run their ships. The average salary for LNG shore-based staff are typically at least 10 percent higher than for tanker staff, with LNG technical superintendents earning between £62-65K per year.
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