THE Seafarers Happiness Index, conducted by the Mission to Seafarers in association with the Shipowners’ Club, exists to provide an ongoing study into how people at sea feel about a range of key areas.
The latest figures, for Q2 2019 revealed that the happiest seafarers were from Oceania, which totalled an impressive average of 7.6/10. Although the best represented, the Indian Subcontinent did not perform so well, with a below general score of 6.24/10. South East Asian seafarers were around the same mark with 6.2.
Overall “seafarer happiness” had slipped this quarter, down to 6.27/10 from 6.31.
“We received compelling and fascinating insights, as well as heartfelt pleas and frustrated opinions from the global fleet,” Mission to Seafarers said.
According to the latest data, seafarers on dredgers were the most satisfied but statistically made up a very small sample. Ferry crews and those on cruise ships were reportedly the least satisfied, whilst crews on tankers, bulk carriers and container ships were all surprisingly well clustered around the average happiness level of the report.
Younger seafarers tended to be the happiest, with those in the 25-35 age range the least satisfied. There was an incredibly diverse spread of ranks and departments, and second engineers tended to be the lowest scoring, whilst in general the deck department appears to be more satisfied than the engine department, and meanwhile catering staff are reportedly in a rather low state of happiness.
“There was also great cause for optimism in the report, as cadets scored very highly indeed, a staggering 8/10, the highest figure we have ever reached across the Index,” Mission to Seafarers said.
More than 93% of respondents were male, and whilst only a small percentage of returns, those women who did share their verdicts on their happiness at sea were only marginally less satisfied than their male counterparts.
“However, it was troubling to once again hear reports of aggression, violence and bullying against female seafarers,” Mission to Seafarers said.
Despite a number of negative experiences which were stated, women marked an average happiness of 6.2/10, whilst males were 6.3. In a continuing trend, those who preferred not to say which gender were the happiest at 6.5/10.
There are many issues which come out of the Seafarers Happiness Index reports, and this time round there were three key themes that emerged. These surrounded wages, shore leave, and work load problems.
“Seafarers were keen to voice their frustrations about delayed payment of wages, a problem which seems to be on the rise according to the crews who spoke to us.
“There is also a growing sense of concern about seafarer abandonment, as crews are feeling vulnerable, as well as frustrated that this problem seemingly will not go away.
“One of the issues which continually gets raised negatively by seafarers is the difficulty of spending time ashore from the vessel. It was perhaps more neatly summed up in this report by one seafarer who said, ‘shore leave is dead’,” Mission to Seafarers said.
“All too often seafarers reported being pulled into office work ashore, regardless of time zones and watch patterns. Many spoke of a seeming ignorance ashore as to what work onboard is like, or a lack of empathy,” Mission to Seafarers said.
There were calls for office workers to better understand seafarer wellness issues, and to ensure that there is some consideration given when placing demands on those onboard.