Seafarers Inspections, Paperwork and Management

Seafarers know that their job is hard, they understand the challenges which face them at sea. The demands of watchkeeping, of maintenance, and of making sure the cargo and ship are cared for.

However, there are ways and means of getting this done – what it doesn’t need to be is made any more complicated or difficult than it already is. Unfortunately, the responses to the Seafarers Happiness Index show that all too often crew are placed under increased pressure by things which they do not feel are necessary.


Time and again, the comments we received highlighted what seafarers feel is a lack of good management, of sensible allocation of time and resources, and of a lack of empathy. There is too little appreciation of what seafarers need to achieve, and the constrains they face.

Seafarers repeatedly said that inspections are a problem. One commented, “No sooner is the gangway down, then there seem to be queues of people all demanding to be shown around the vessel or to see paperwork”.

Others felt that inspections need to be better scheduled, and that systems need to be in place to ensure that rest periods are not taken up by having to do extra work showing auditors, inspectors or surveyors around the ships.

Sadly it seems that as the number of people working onboard has shrunk, then the army of external parties who want access to the vessel have increased. This means that there can be immense pressure to get all the inspections, surveys and audits completed while the vessel in port.

Seafarers felt that these spikes in activity are often unsustainable and have a massive knock on effect as hours of work and rest are affected.


Allied to this, is the issue of paperwork. Time and again, seafarers commented that their workload is massively increased by the amount of paperwork they have to complete. The irony being that the checks and balances which are meant to make things safer can sometimes have the opposite effect.

There were comments that often the management team onboard no longer feel they have any pushback against the office. The systems required on  the ship mean that there is just more and more to do, and raising concerns back to shore does not often translate into a lessening of the workload.

The Seafarers Happiness Index returns have revealed an interesting generational divide. Older seafarers often talk of paperwork and work load in terms of needing extra assistance onboard, and often they bemoan the loss of the purser and even the radio officer roles. While younger seafarers crave technological solutions – they do not mind the extra work, but just want better tools to get it done.


#28Days #Seafarers #Shipping Also check out the Mission to Seafarers website to learn more that the charity does to address many of the issues raised across these challenges facing shipping.

The Seafarers Happiness Index needs the support of those at sea, and of the shipping industry. So if you would like to be a part of driving positive debate and change – complete the survey or share your thoughts with us.

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