14th May 2024

Shortage of provisions on board

Initial Report

The reporter informed CHIRP that a bulk carrier crew was out of food. When some crew members visited the seaman’s mission, they received expired food supplies from a local supermarket at a reduced cost to the crew. The reporter indicated that the crew was starving as no provisions were on board.

The report requested that CHIRP intervene and inform the authorities to check the food status on board. CHIRP contacted the Port State Control, and an investigation was carried out.

CHIRP Comment

All Flag States mandate a minimum requirement for crew daily food provisions, which must be reflected in the company’s budget. This includes allocating a reserve allowance for essential provisions when there may be uncertainty in the vessel’s port rotation and access to good providers.

The provision of poor-quality, inexpensive food not only leads to higher wastage but also poses long-term health risks to the crew, including increased rates of diabetes, obesity, and heart problems. Running out of food for the crew is totally unacceptable and should only occur in exceptional circumstances.

The master and crew failed to give adequate attention to provisioning, a critical aspect of ensuring the vessel’s seaworthiness. The amount of food required must be assessed based on crew size, trading pattern, and the availability of suitable victualing companies. Neglecting this assessment can result in severe consequences for crew health and morale.

Purchasing expired, or reduced-price food indicates that the food budget is driven by cost-saving measures rather than prioritising the crew’s well-being. This practice is unacceptable and compromises the safety and welfare of those onboard.

Key Issues relating to this report

Capability—The master usually has the responsibility of checking the quality and quantity of food on board. This requires close attention to the requirements and working closely with the cook. How well do you manage this job? Do you feel your provision budget is too tight to order good quality food? Does the cook on your vessel hold the appropriate cooking certificates? Are there regular refresher cooking courses that can be taken? How varied are your meals?

Alerting- If you felt that your food quality and quantity were insufficient, would you contact your DPA?

Culture- Having the right type of food available creates an excellent social atmosphere and is part of good onboard social culture. Please see The Social Integration Matters (SIM)  project, which was carried out by The International Seafarers Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN).

  • Alerting
  • Capability
  • Culture

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