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The Displacement of Superyacht Crew

Everywhere you turn the disruptive effects of COVID-19 are stark.  First and foremost, we hope you’re safe, well and where you want to be!

It’s a bit of an understatement that the superyacht industry has a whole has been hit pretty hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, with yachts unable to move freely in Spain, France and Italy, and many yachts heading to the UK as a safe haven. With such stringent lockdowns, crew can’t easily join yachts and vessels are stuck unable to leave port.  Whilst some owners are using their yachts as safe havens, it’s tricky for rotational crews whose counterparts can’t get flights out to the boats.

COVID-19 has obviously affected an enormous number of crew; causing repatriation issues, crew unable to access government financial support schemes (because they’re employed on offshore contracts), vessels sending crew home and running their yachts on minimum crew.

Charles Boyle, director of legal services at Nautilus International clarified “In order to benefit from the UK’s scheme, the business must have a UK bank account and the employee in question must be a registered PAYE worker, which is going to cause problems. I expect that yacht personnel are going to be unable to benefit from the UK’s furloughing or self-employment schemes.”

Obviously individual cases depend largely on the decisions made by their respective superyacht owners, as they decide on the best course of action for themselves, their employees and assets.  Some deciding to reduce their onboard crew to the minimum standard with others eager to maintain crews, employing them throughout the COVID-19 crisis with a view to yachting further down the line.

Boyle continues “I’ve already seen examples where owners are offering crew options. While options vary, typically they include being repatriated without future pay and having reduced pay and being kept on board. However, the options undoubtedly vary from vessel to vessel. Even so, there will likely be a number of crew with cash flow problems for the coming months.”

If you’re looking to be repatriated, you’ll need to work out if you can get off the vessel, out of port and then get the transport/flights you need to get home.  Make sure you’re aware of your repatriation rights under the MLC and do contact your local consulate or embassy, they’ll help you.

But there are crew who have repatriated, leaving minimum crew onboard yachts in port or the yard; who can’t access the UK government help schemes. If they can’t live on their cash savings, looking for another job – at quite possibly the worst time!

Various maritime authorities are however, trying to encourage the international community to accept seafarers as essential workers, with more information due soon. So if yachting and commercial personnel come under the same umbrella, the superyacht would heave a sigh of relief.

For more information visit:

ILO - Information note on maritime labour issues and coronavirus (COVID-19) 

MCA - Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and COVID-19

Stay safe. Stay well. Best wishes from the Yotspot Team.

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