ACCESS to shore leave has improved over the past few months but seafarers are still struggling with workloads, according to the latest Seafarers Happiness Index report.

Mission to Seafarers, with support from the Standard Club and Idwal, publishes its survey-based report each quarter to help the shipping industry understand issues crew members face at sea.

Survey scores indicate seafarer “happiness levels” reached 7.3 out of a possible 10 in the third quarter of this year, up from 7.21 in the previous quarter.

Mission to Seafarers said the latest data follows a sustained increase in crew satisfaction after a record low of 5.85 out of 10 earlier this year.

The charity said better access to shore leave and certainty about crew changes contributed to the increase in satisfaction.

Covid restrictions are still in place in some regions, but seafarers are reportedly more confident they will be able to return home on time.

However, the report noted wages, workloads, stress and physical health and wellbeing are still issues at sea.

Many seafarers shared complaints about the provision of fresh, quality food on board, according to Mission to Seafarers.

Crew also reported feeling tired or stressed due to high workloads, impacting their ability to exercise (if the vessel had gym facilities or space to keep fit).

Ben Bailey, director of programme at the Mission to Seafarers, said insight on issues of a life at sea shapes organisations’ understanding of which areas need more attention.

“Optimism is slowly returning to life at sea, but we must remember that these gains can quickly be lost if we do not keep up the hard work,” Mr Bailey said.

“There are still vital issues that require immediate attention, and which must be overcome to ensure seafarers’ basic needs are not neglected – from food provisions to decent Wi-Fi access and workload problems.”

Thom Herbert, Idwal crew welfare advocate and senior marine surveyor, said the shore leave score suggests even a few hours onshore can benefit someone whose place of work and rest is one and the same onboard.

“This also makes health and fitness onboard of paramount importance and it’s still disconcerting to see that numbers were slightly down here for this quarter,” Mr Herbert said.

And Yves Vandenborn, director of loss and prevention at Standard Club, described the latest results as an “encouraging affirmation” of the wellbeing initiatives that emerged during the pandemic.

“However, while optimism is sustained, the report shows that there continues to be a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to meeting basic needs such as nutritional food on board and provision of time and facilities onboard for seafarers to keep fit.

“Only by addressing these deep-rooted issues can we maintain seafarer happiness at this level and avoid the yo-yo sentiments experienced during the pandemic.”