Shipping recruiter Faststream warns that shipowners taking part in the LNG vessel order spree could face serious difficulties in finding experienced superintendents to run these vessels in the coming months and years, particularly in Europe. The UK-headquartered company says that it has already seen triple the number of vacancies for shore-based technical staff with LNG vessel experience in 2011 compared with the whole of last year.
Group CEO Mark Charman said, “With the capacity of the LNG market said to rise from 300 bn cu m to 380 bn cu m by 2015, 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.”
He added, “Seafarers serving on LNG vessels are amongst the most highly paid in the shipping industry and luring them ashore has always been difficult. In the UK, 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.”
Faststream says that many shipowners are now recruiting people with general tanker experience rather than an LNG specialism to run their ships. The average salary for LNG shore based staff are typically at least 10 per cent higher than for tanker staff, with LNG technical superintendents earning between £62,000-65,000 (about $100,000-105,000) per year.