You are here

Seafarer morale drops across the board

Seafarer morale drops across the board
Adis Ajdin April 28, 2022

Seafarer happiness levels have hit new lows in the first quarter of 2022, driven by concerns over the Covid-19 Omicron variant, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and contractual issues.

The latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, based on thousands of anonymised responses to 10 key questions, is compiled quarterly by the welfare charity Mission to Seafarers, with support from Standard Club and Idwal.

The 22-page report revealed the lowest levels of seafarer satisfaction for eight years, with the Index’s measure of overall happiness decreasing from 6.41 to 5.85 and levels dropping across all categories.

Seafarers responding to the survey highlighted that they were still feeling the effects of Covid-19, facing a maze of different regulations, ongoing port restrictions, and, in many cases, limited or no shore leave. Concerns were raised about rising tensions between Russian and Ukrainian crewmembers, which have implications not only for social cohesion onboard, but safety too.

The survey also highlighted that seafarers continue to face problems surrounding their employment rights, contractual issues and calls to be recognised as key workers. The issue of contract extensions was frequently mentioned when asking seafarers about their general happiness at sea and is impacting the mental health of crews that are effectively being forced to remain on board.

Reverend Canon Andrew Wright, secretary general of The Mission to Seafarers, commented: “It’s hugely concerning to see seafarer satisfaction decline quite significantly in our latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, though unsurprising. With the continued threat and disruption of Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, seafarers face unprecedented challenges, which are exacerbated by restrictions on shore leave and crew changes.

“We hope that through the rest of 2022, organisations will take further meaningful steps to improve the welfare of crews and help boost seafarer happiness. With financial backing and compassionate leadership, there are still actions that they can be taken to improve seafarers’ quality of life. It is important to listen to and learn from seafarers’ experiences, to not only empathise with them but work together to find practical solutions that will improve life at sea.”

There was positive feedback from seafarers who spoke about some of the efforts made to make life at sea more comfortable and enjoyable, despite other concerns. This included examples of vessels having funds allocated for wellbeing events and activities, such as weekly crew gatherings, quizzes, karaoke, sports, TikTok video making, movie nights, and barbecues.

“The few positive comments from seafarers in this Seafarers Happiness Index should also be emphasised to show the importance of caring for our seafarers and how a small investment can go a long way – it really does make a difference to crew morale and outlook, providing both economic and mental health benefits,” added Capt Yves Vandenborn, director of Loss Prevention, at the Standard Club.