Increasing crew wages raised ship-operating costs by 16% in 2008, according to a report by shipping accountant Moore Stephens .

The OpCost report shows an annual average increase of 15.8% in total operating costs for all vessel types in 2008.

Crew wages recorded an average rise of 21.4% during that period, which is more than double the increase reported the previous year.

All vessel categories experienced an increase in total operating costs over the 12 month period, and in almost every category crew costs accounted for the single largest increase in expenditure

Moore Stephens partner Richard Greiner said that for the first time, the OpCost indicator has broken through the 15 percent barrier.

“This is sobering news at a time of depressed freight markets, and creates something of a double-whammy for owners struggling to survive in a climate of falling revenues and increased costs,” Greiner said.