The latest Seafarers Happiness Index report from the Mission to Seafarers has highlighted that happiness levels have increased to the pre-pandemic levels.
The report said that for the third quarter of 2021 the levels increased to 6.59/10, up from 5.99 in the previous reporting period, returning to the same levels seen pre-pandemic in Q3 2019.
The survey, conducted with support from Wallem Group and the Standard Club, suggests that Covid-19 related strains on seafarers are beginning to ease, and support measures for seafarer welfare have now had a chance to take effect. Nevertheless, challenges with shore leave and ship-shore connectivity remain.
5 percent of seafarers responding said that they have been away at sea for over a year and a further 13 percent of respondents have served at sea for over nine months, with the remainder reporting less than nine months – so far. The crew change crisis has led to many who were tentatively considering a move ashore to accelerate their career change plans. The report emphasises that many seafarers are not intending to return to sea once they eventually get home.
Ship-to-shore connectivity is a long-held contentious issue. The crews who either have no access or feel that it is poor quality, slow, patchy and expensive, are not happy. Many respondents see the issue of internet access as one of the most telling ways of assessing how a company feels about its crews. One seafarer stated: “Our internet on board costs USD25 for 100MB”. That is the scale of how challenging the fee structures are for seafarers. Others bemoaned the size of their internet allocation, with one stating that owners gave them 250MB for the whole month consumption; potentially not even enough for one video call to their family.
The Reverend Canon Andrew Wright, secretary general of the Mission to Seafarers, commented: “The issues relating to Covid-19 continue to impact seafarers, and are likely to for some time to come. That said, the data suggests that crew sentiment has stabilised, which is, at face value, good to see. However, it is too soon to say whether this is a start of positive change, or if seafarers are simply more resilient to the situation they are experiencing because of the pandemic – in other words, whether the strains they have been placed under for the past 21 months are a ‘new normal’.”
He added: “We urge every shipowner, operator and manager to study this report, listen to their crew and act on what is needed to address their needs, whether that is the longstanding issue of crew changes or, as we see in this latest survey, the costs and constraints on internet access, which can be a lifeline for homesick seafarers.”
The full report can be seen here: https://www.happyatsea.org