THE DECLINE in seafarers’ happiness continued its downward trend in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The Seafarers Happiness Index, a survey and quarterly report by Mission to Seafarers, found overall satisfaction has dropped to 6.36 (from 6.6 in Q3) out of a possible 10.

The report said the latest results reflect a decrease in sentiment across most question areas (covering food, shore leave, wages and other important elements of life at sea).  

Connectivity was the only notable aspect that showed improvement in the latest report.

Sue Dight, regional director of the Mission to Seafarers Australia and PNG, highlighted the overall decline in how seafarers are feeling due to increased workload demands and fears for safety.

“From an overall score of 7.1 in Q1 2023 to 6.36 to Q4, seafarers are feeling down across every sector we measure, except internet connectivity,” Ms Dight said.

“Excessive workloads, lack of support, too much paperwork and too many inspections were once again seen by seafarers as proof shore-based personnel are not sufficiently concerned about overburdening them.

A seafarer setting up a Starlink receiver for connectivity at sea. Image: Mission to Seafarers

“Shore leave is the first thing to be cut when time is taken up with inspections.”

Some seafarers expressed dissatisfaction with current salaries and some raised issues around delayed salaries.

And seafarers also flagged issues with training – many gave positive responses and commended companies for their support for training, but raised some concerns about inexperienced trainers, insufficient time for proper training and “prioritising certifications over practical skill development”.

“Training is quite good but needs more advanced courses on automation, new fuels and electronics,” one seafarer commented.

The report found that, fundamentally, seafarers feel “overburdened, undervalued and disconnected” and that workloads continue to intensify due to staff shortages and growing administrative burdens.

Ms Dight said the Mission to Seafarers is committed to working with industry to address the challenges facing seafarers and to improve their welfare.

Image: Mission to Seafarers