Q4 2021 Interaction Onboard

7.42 down from 7.63

It has been a significant part of the COVID yo-yo effect that relationships onboard have become strained as uncertainty and concerns have risen, while they have improved when seafarers felt more certain with regards to reliefs and leave.

Unfortunately, the Omicron COVID variant situation appears to have a significant impact, as relationships and interactions onboard have become more strained towards the closing weeks of the year.

Where the tensions were evident, there were accusations that crewmates were “selfish, vain and lazy”. It seems that when pressures rise onboard, then there is a tendency for seafarers to perhaps see the worst in each other. Small disagreements or tensions have a habit of becoming magnified as tensions eat away at relationships and any sense of camaraderie onboard.

This was particularly evident on vessels with a significant degree of cultural or national mixing. In times of stress, then the focus seemingly comes onto negatives and seafarers freely criticised rather than accepting difference. This frays the social fabric onboard, and the responses highlighted difficulties. Some responses spoke of bullying onboard, and an underlying feeling of tension, stress and victimisation. Even at low levels, such negatives can cause serious mental health problems for those suffering.

It was not all negative. Those who had positive experiences wrote a lot about the conditions onboard and of the actions and activities which seemingly helped to ensure better cohesion. Perhaps as a template that can be used by others, one respondent said that their trips were punctuated by, “Board games, bingo, movies on Saturday, TV and karaoke, even monthly BBQ on deck. We have lots to look forward to and it makes life enjoyable.”

Some respondents were very happy to sail with their fellow crew, but unfortunately, their working hours meant that they seldom had a chance to relax or talk. The relentless demands of watchkeeping mean, for some, there is little or no opportunity for team building or enjoyment.

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