Due to the unpredictable nature of sailing schedules, the logistics of crew changes is a complicated subject. Moreover, port call destinations are sometimes only known at the last moment, which sometimes cause unexpected problems.
Around sixty percent of the Dutch fleet is active in shortsea transport between European countries and neighboring countries such as Russia. This shortsea sector (usually general cargo and multi-purpose) accounts for forty percent of the total goods transport between EU member states.
The vast majority of vessels in the Dutch shipping industry sail according to irregular schedules that are usually determined per voyage – the so-called tramp trade. For a part of the tramp shipping, the sailing area is worldwide, where journeys can take up to a few weeks.
Short trips, last minute changes in the sailing schedule and stopovers however, occur on a regular basis. This is so-called ‘deep sea shipping’, where crew changes can often, but not always, be planned for a maximum period of a few weeks.
The other part of the Dutch tramp trade involves a sailing area that is generally limited to European waters. This is ‘short sea shipping’. Voyages tend to be short; most commonly with an average duration of less than a week and last minute sailing schedules. In short sea shipping operations, the next port of call is often only known (or it can change) at the last moment. Crew changes are planned well in advance, but in many cases the port where a change will take place is only known at the last moment; sometimes only a few days in advance.