Crewing considerations during Covid-19 and beyond

Date 13/10/2020
4 minutes to read
Scott Le Cornu and Andy Limbrick

We caught up with Scott Le Cornu, Head of Equiom Crewing and Andy Limbrick, Manager - Crewing from our crewing team to learn how the global disruption has impacted superyacht crew and what the Equiom team are doing to support our superyacht owners, captains and crew.

What is your current focus for Equiom’s crewing clients?

Scott: Despite the global pandemic, the ultra-wealthy are still looking to enjoy their superyachts and, in some cases, use them as a form of isolation. At the peak of lockdown there was barely any movement as ports around the world were closed. At this time our focus was on supporting captains, clients and yacht managers with employment contractual obligations. More recently, things have been really busy again and we are seeing a steady flow of new entrants to the market, particularly with smaller sized vessels, predominantly the 30-40m range.

Andy: We continue to look after employment of the entire crew for our vessels. This includes verification of seafarer certifications, running checks on seafarers and making sure all crew are paid efficiently into designated bank accounts. For the smaller 30-40m vessels there are around 10 crew members including the Captain, Chief Officer, Chief Engineer, Assistant Engineer, Deck Hand, Chief Steward and Chef. For the larger superyachts, the number of crew can be up to 40 people.

What issues are crew facing due to Covid-19?

Scott: There are still around 1,000 superyacht crew worldwide who are not repatriated because their home destinations are shut down or there are no available flights. On top of this, jurisdictions such as Australia and New Zealand are imposing two weeks’ quarantine in government facilities. In these cases, there can be questions over who is responsible for covering the cost of quarantine (the crew member themselves or the yacht owner) and this can vary depending on the circumstances.

Andy: To manage this uncertainty, some superyacht owners are placing their crew on retainers or reduced wages to enable more flexibility. Others are moving to winter manning earlier than usual as a precaution. There are lots of uncertainties and potential implications but at least this time we, and the yacht owners, are prepared for what might be to come. To fully support our yacht owners and crew, we have revised our employment T&Cs in order to manage future issues and ensure fairness and equity between the crew, the yacht owner and the seafarer.

What are the regulatory/legislation considerations of your role?

Scott: The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) covers 90% of the world’s shipping and is therefore the primary regulatory standard. It sets standards such as the minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship, employment and welfare conditions. 

Andy: In addition to this, there are jurisdictional and national legislation nuances that come into play dependent on a crew member’s residence, their home ports, the operating area or the flag state of the vessel they are working on. These variables can be anything from public holiday entitlement to specific minimum safe manning requirements. While MLC may be the international standard for commercial yachts there is always the possibility that a domestic employment law will be applied, hence you need to be able to evaluate the different scenarios. It can be very costly to get things wrong so it’s really important for us to keep abreast with all the different legislation where possible. 

What led you to Jersey and the maritime industry?

Andy: I followed my Jersey-born girlfriend (now wife) to Jersey in 1991 after we met in Greece where I was actually working as a water sports instructor at the time! I began a career in the trust and corporate services industry 26 years ago and, having gained valuable experience and a passion for all things maritime along the way, I joined Equiom‘s crewing team in 2014.  

Scott: I spent time within the tanker, hydrographic surveying and cruise ship sectors before returning to my home island of Jersey in 2002 to work in the night club industry for a while! Following that I spent three years promoting maritime GSM (global command and control system) services before I read an article in a local paper about yachting fiduciary services. This really inspired me – so much so that I wrote speculatively to Equiom…and the rest is history as they say. When I first started with Equiom we had 7 yachts and 70 crew on our books and the team consisted of me and one other staff member. 10 years on, we have a team of 8, 106 yachts under Equiom’s management and more than 1,400 crew on our books.

What do you love most about your role at Equiom?

Andy: It’s a cliché but I love the variety. We never know what to expect – one day we could be managing crew employment contracts for a brand new mega yacht, the next we could be managing a grievance from a crew member who has experienced harassment on board a vessel; which can be an extremely sensitive issue to deal with. 

Scott: We are a great team and have worked together for a long time yet as Andy says, each day brings something new. Dealing with Covid has certainly kept us busy too – in some cases we’ve had crew quarantined in their cabins and in others they have been moved to dedicated seafarer hotels. I have even heard of entire superyacht crews having to quarantine – in these cases the yacht must fly a quarantine flag to ensure no-one else tries to board.

To find out more about Equiom’s crewing team and services, contact Scott Le Cornu

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