The survey took place in Q4 2019, gathering responses from an unprecedented 9,768 seafarers, serving onboard 1,072 ships.

Among the key findings, the stats show that Filipino seafarers are by far the largest nationality serving onboard cargo ships and have several years of experience.

In the same context, the majority of participants were by far seafarers from Philippines representing more than half of the sample. Other countries with high participation by their seafarers were Ukraine, Greece and Russia.

A glance of statistics

It is a fact that Filipinos account for a great deal of seamen workforce worldwide.

According to ICS figures, the worldwide population of seafarers serving on internationally trading merchant ships is estimated at 1,647,500 seafarers, of which 774,000 were officers and 873,500 were ratings.

The five largest supply countries for all seafarers are estimated to be:

  1. China,
  2. Philippines,
  3. Indonesia,
  4. Russian Federation and
  5. Ukraine

However, the Philippines is the biggest supplier of ratings, followed by China, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Did you know?

The SAFETY4SEA survey identified ratings as more satisfied than officers.

Meanwhile, latest figures by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) reveal a dropping trend in the deployment of Filipino seafarers in 2018 compared to 2017, to 337,502 from 449,463.

This means the number of Filipino seafarers reduced by more than 110,000, which comes in addition to 64,748 Filipino seamen who lost their jobs from 2016 to 2017.

This can be attributed to the increasing legal cost of employing Filipino crew, compared to other Eastern countries.

According to data by Manila Times, Filipino ratings are estimated to cost $1,000 each per month, compared with $600 to $800 per month in Indonesia.


Why are Filipinos happier?

As shown in the figure below, the seafarers’ nation with the top level of satisfaction is Philippines, with an 87.4% score, while the nation, which seems to have the most unsatisfied seafarers is India, with 68.2%. Meanwhile, all the other nationalities are below average in crew satisfaction.

Based on the survey figures, we can assume that nationality has an impact to satisfaction onboard and we attempted to explain why Filipino seafarers are more satisfied than other nationalities:

-National tradition: The Philippines is traditionally a maritime nation. As shown in the figures above, the country accounts for one fifth of the world’s seagoing personnel and is considered the top source for quality seafarers. Philippines is the base of numerous high-quality maritime training centers, encouraging Filipinos since childhood to opt for maritime careers. This makes the ship a friendlier environment for Filipinos, while making the latter in-demand by high-profile maritime companies.

-Predisposition: Despite ranking wellbeing by nationality may seem a misconception, there is a general sentiment that Filipinos are among the happiest and resilient nationality groups on Earth. In 2018, the Philippines was named the third happiest country in the world by Gallup International, hitting a “+84” score and climbing third after Fiji and Colombia. Filipinos also ranked fifth in the economic optimism index, as 42% of them believed that 2018 would be a year of economic improvement for their home.

-Salary: According to Salary Explorer, the minimum monthly wage of a Filipino worker in 2020 is USD$ 136.26 (6,840 Philippine pesos), at a time when the ILO recommended minimum wage for an AB seaman is USD$ 618 (applicable from 1 July 2019). For officers, the minimum wage exceeds the USD$ 1,000. This makes seafaring an easier option for Filipinos, considering that conditions onshore push them away from shore-based careers.