In the recent years seafarers living and working conditions onboard ships have improved significantly. However, we tend to see that Seafarers feel lonely, group activities have reduced and there are still welfare issues to be dealt with, explains Mrs. Ioanna Vernardou, DPA / CSO, Blue Planet Shipping Safety Quality Environmental Department.
All of our ships have internet today, a very important facility for our seafarers. They have the opportunity to communicate with their families and access whatever content they wish instantly. There is however another aspect that we started to notice when we were attending our ships.
The ever-busy mess rooms at evenings that we were used to see them full of our crew members discussing, watching movies, playing backgammon and many more activities are now quiet and empty. Everyone is in his/her cabin over a laptop, pad or smartphone surfing the internet.
We then started wondering whether the ability to connect with your world at shore leads to your distancing and “disconnection” with the teammates onboard… An issue that may be relevant to each and everyone of us living in the era of internet, social media and hopefully the “post-lockdowns” period.
We at Blue Planet came up with an idea during the start of the pandemic at 2020 as one of the measures to support our seafarer’s welfare. We have introduced a series of onboard tournaments. These tournaments include table tennis, table soccer, chess, backgammon, mahjong, bingo / tombola, monopoly, darts and basketball.
The requirement is to have at least 10 participants in an effort to engage as many crew members as possible and there are prizes for winners and runners up. Furthermore vessels completing a series of tournaments win surprise awards for all crew.
After almost 2 years of implementation we see that our seafarers welcomed this initiative and they are enjoying these tournaments very much challenging us to keep up the effort and introduce more ideas and surprise awards.
An example of these surprise awards was to arrange the food delivery (Pizza Hut, McDonalds) while vessels were at the port and especially if there were shore leave restrictions at that port. Everyone enjoyed very much these surprise parties.
Another aspect that turned out to be very interesting was the element of humor, that of course has no place in matters of safety, business and commercial activities. However when discussing welfare and living conditions, we need to include humor and fun.
When we sent the announcement to be placed at the noticeboards we added the symbol of the Hunger Games as a letterhead for the first season of tournaments, our crew members responded with very creative reports of the games and certificates of excellence for winners and participants.
During the 2022 season we introduced the Squid Game theme and again we received very interesting artwork at the completion of each game. Ships are not only a workplace but a home for each seafarer for the months he/she spends onboard.
Our messrooms are loud and busy again and we are very proud of that!
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
Good day Messrs Blue Planet, congratulations for such a project.
Figure out that ashore the stress for everybody because of the Pandemic´s consequence is tremendous; now supposed how it should be onboard far away from family and in a pandemic time. This initiative procure the mental healthy which it is necessary in order for people to complete satisfactory their task onboard. I´m happy that you can see the positive result onboard and of course a good mentality will become on a balance behavior of crew onboard and therefore good performance in their different tasks onboard ships.
On the other hand as you said the ship is not only the work place but in addition it will be their house for a determine period of time and then it should be confortable for every body. Thus avoiding additional stress or anxiety for the crewmember that already have plenty presure due to different situations around themselve and their families.
The welfare the crew get through easy activities like the one implemented in your fleet have a positive impact on a people living in a ship and then they will have an actituted and behaviors without the stress originated because of the uncertainty of the wordwide pandemic and others families concerns crew can face. Then avoiding mental disorders that can affect their behavior onboard and thus avoiding a negative impact on their performance on daily duties onboard.