During our latest survey period Q4 2020, we heard from many seafarers and they shared their thoughts with us. Here are just some of the amazing insights they shared. Thank you to them all, for giving a voice to those at sea.
As we can see, the companies who look beyond the issues they are struggling to control – like crew changes, and instead focus on the good they can bring, these things are having a big impact. The investment to make food better, to give some new gym or entertainment equipment, to find the ways and means to allow seafarers to be in contact with home. These things matter, the benefits are multiplied greatly in times of such concern and misery. So well done the companies who have sought to make even the small changes which mean so much. To those who haven’t, well now is your chance. Take a look onboard, see what is there, how life is, and of the things you can do to make life better. It will be hugely appreciated.
- “The one good thing that has happened since COVID is that our company has now improved satellite wi-fi, and we are able to access it free or at good prices. This is so important to me and really has made a difference”.
- “We received parcels of washing gear and chocolate, which brightened our days, thank you”.
- “We have been lucky, it seems that the company has invested and is now arranging every possible way to provide training for crew. Happy to perform the tasks, and learning while doing so”.
- “The company has given us a little more in the monthly budget, and that has meant much better quality of food”.
- “Our ship has received a new table tennis table, and we actually had a tournament throughout the weekend. It was real fun”.
As ever there are many observations about the impact of harsh realities on seafarers. There can be no shying away or ignoring the impact of too much work, too little rest, the concerns about leave, and the sheer stress of worrying about their loved ones at home. We can do more to make the experience at sea better, and we should make the changes now.
- “No one seems happy at all at the moment, and how could they? I am stuck on my ship, it is the hardest time I have ever known, even after 30 years of seagoing”.
- “Words are cheap, we need flights home”.
- “Incessant work reaching absolute breaking point”.
- “Usually at the end of my contract I am exhausted, now I am still exhausted but am no closer to home”.
- “Even when I get some time, I never wake up fresh and fully rested. The effects of this over a full trip really start to impact me.”
- “In this COVID era, commercial pressure plus managing crew members is difficult”.
- “Work load is high, work hours high, stress levels even higher”.
- “Mentoring and training onboard has been stopped. Officers seem distracted or do not have enough time for us now”.
- “It is so hard to build good relationships onboard. People are stressed, tired and working hard”.
- “It feels like an endless cycle of long hours, with nothing to look forward to. How can you be motivated, when everyday is just the same?”
- “I do not see smiles or hear laughs, now there is just a look of getting through and coping”.
- “I do not feel that we have enough people onboard, does not matter what any certificate says, it feels that we have to do so much more”.
- “Life onboard is work, getting ready for work, or recovering from work. There is nothing else”.
- “No one seems to be the same to each other as they used to be. It feels that people hate being here, and do not like each other.”
- “All crew members are miserable, everyone hates it at sea”
- “Camaraderie is a must for us to have an easy contract”.
- “Shore leave is no more, but as no one can visit the ship it has meant that we can reduce watches and have some time for rest and recreation. Even onboard is better now”.
- “I spend my time in port running around a lot – so I should maybe be glad of some exercise. It takes it out of you though, I am very exhausted by the time we get back to sea”.
- “Crime has been on the rise, and we were told that any shoreleave would be unsafe”.
- “Inspections are even worse now. I spent hours wandering around the vessel to film spaces with a mobile phone, this felt like a waste of time”.
- “Shore leave is a form of temporary happiness. It’s like a band-aid”. Though when you go back to the ship it’s like ripping the band-aid off”.
- “How can I carry on and provide for my family if I cannot go to sea?”
- “Money doesn’t mean anything when we are losing our freedom”.
- “Even though the cook is good, we are eating very similar food all the time”
- “Same food, at the same time, on the same day, it is getting boring”.
- “I am too tired with no energy to keep fit”
WHERE TO IMPROVE
It is not about criticising or hammering home the negatives, seafarers are all too eager to share their views on how to implement positive change at sea. Just this quarter we heard about concerns on cyber security, about the management of free time, and of the impact on female of seafarers of having no one to speak to at sea. These are opportunities to change, to evolve, adapt and improve. We hope that the words of seafarers have an impact on the managers, executives and investors ashore.
- “There has been so much cyber awareness and training, but no change to the ancient equipment we are using”.
- “As a female seafarer, I wish there were more women onboard to talk too, as my male colleagues do not understand what I go through daily”.
- “Proper management of free time should be part of the way the ship is run.”
- “We were made to queue up and felt like criminals, then taken to a facility more like a prison camp than a hotel”.