More Boats but Crew Shortages


Cummins Vessel Reference #727

A recently launched trawler is fitting out alongside at Mahachai Dockyard.

After a bit of a lull in construction, the Mahachai Dockyard had six trawlers in various stages of completion in mid-April of 2014. Ranging in size from three 45-meter, one 38.5-meter and two 25-meter vessels all six will be powered by Cummins KTA38 engines generating 800 or 1000 HP depending on the vessel requirements.

All six are being built to join the Thai fleet of about 300 trawlers licensed to fish waters of southeastern Indonesia. Licenses for this limited area are reported to coast about 5 million Baht plus 3% of catch value for one year. Once they depart from Thailand they can expect to spend about six years on the fishing grounds. Up until June the boats tend to concentrate in the Arafura sea where they fish for Mackerel much of which is exported to China. There are also a large number of Chinese vessels in that area. In June the Thai fleet will move westward to the Banda Sea to fish for squid. Reefer ships will bring the catches to Thailand for processing. The mackerel is getting around 50 baht per kilo to the vessel with catches of around 15,000 kilos per day. The squid will be in the 150 baht range with catches up to four tons per day.


Several fishing trawlers taking shape at Thailand's Mahachai Dockyard.

Like the six new vessels building at Mahachai Dockyards, around 80% of the Thai fleet are Cummins powered. Owners report good service support from PT. Altrak 1978 the Indonesian Cummins dealer when they call at the port of Ambon.

The greatest issue for owners, it is reported, is around crewing. The boats each have 30 to 35 crewmembers, with half if each boat crew being Thai. The other half is typically from Myanmar on temporary work permits. One owner reports that he has to pay a broker 35,000 baht per crewman with the sum to be deducted from the crewman’s pay of 9,000 baht per month. However, in what is claimed to be an organized scam, many of the crewmen jump ship in Indonesia and a repatriate to Myanmar with the vessel owner then being short crew and out of pocket for most of the broker’s fee.

The same owner reported that both Thai and foreign crews are paid the Thai minimum wage of around 9000 baht per month while captains get a salary plus five percent of each 45-day-trip’s profit. Two or three junior officer get bonuses of about 2%. Crewmembers who stay for four years get a one percent bonus.

Asked about Cambodian crew, an owner reported that the scams there are even greater than Myanmar. The challenges for owners of distant water fishing, like those faced by their crews, are significant. It may require an adjustment in the prices that consumers are prepared to pay for their fishfor enough money to get into the system for everyone to receive satisfactory remuneration.

Haig-Brown photos courtesy of Cummins Marine

For further information on new boat construction:
Sakchai Rujiphapra
Mahachai Dockyard Co. Ltd.
200 Suttivaitee Road, Tachalom District
Samut Sakorn, 74000, Thailand
Phone: 66 034 497296


For more information on Cummins in Thailand:
Sathit Suwanprasert
Senior Engineer, Marketing Dept.
Cummins DKSH (Thailand) Limited
Phone: 66 23017500 | Extension: 7540
Mobile: 081 913 6599
Fax: 02 3330995
E-mail: [email protected]


For more information on Cummins in Southeast Asia:
Ku Wee Ming
Manager, Regional Marketing
Cummins Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd.
No. 8, Tanjong Penjuru, Singapore 609019
Office: 65 6265 0155
Mobile: 65 9113 5899
Office: 65 6266 0432
E-Mail: [email protected]

Alan Haig-Brown

Alan Haig-Brown

Over 30 years as an author for global commercial marine and fishing publications backed with hands-on experience on commercial fishing boats and coastal freighters makes Alan Haig-Brown uniquely qualified to provide vessel reference articles for Cummins Marine. You can find him in shipyards around the world, and on his own website,

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