Mission to Seafarers published the latest Seafarers Happiness Index Q2 focusing on the continuous impact of COVID-19 on the welfare of seafarers and their families.
To remind, the report of Q1 revealed that seafarers’ happiness was lower due to the pandemic and they reported increased levels of fatigue and burn out.
The latest survey, undertaken in association with the Shipowners’ Club and Wallem Group, analyses the experiences of seafarers across the global maritime industry between April and June 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, seafarer happiness has dropped from 6.30 in Q1 2020 to 6.18 in Q2 2020.
Now, the report that covers the second quarter of 2020 highlights the continuing decline of happiness at sea, largely due to the inability of seafarers to sign off and return home. Heavy workloads, virus fears and a perceived lack of COVID-19 precautions on board vessels are exacerbating the decline in satisfaction.
It is stated that
Without immediate action, there are significant risks for the mental and physical wellbeing of crew and a growing risk to safety.
How happy about wages/salary? 6.28 ↑ from 6.11
The only category of the Happiness Index to see a rise in average score this time round was the question of salary. It seems the only benefit of prolonged or extended contracts has been extra cash.
How happy generally when at sea? 6.05 ↓ from 6.12
There were a wide range of concerns which were voiced in response to this question, and, while there were a number of negatives, it was interesting to see that in testing times some positives yet persist.
How happy with your work load? 5.60 ↓ from 5.69
Given the lack of repatriation and crew change vessels are reportedly operating short-handed, though presumably within safe manning limits, and this is taking a heavy toll on the others.
How happy about the training you receive? 6.62 ↓ from 6.65
The report reveals that “There was anger and frustration as many seafarers said they were not being well enough trained or prepared to deal with the virus.”
How happy about interaction with other crew on board? 7.04 ↓ from 7.13
Interaction onboard has so often been one of the high points of the Happiness Index. The report also reaffirms the importance of communication to seafarers. With many seafarers unable to leave their vessels or contact their family due to the crisis, online access is fundamental to their wellbeing.
How happy about access to shore leave? 5.75 ↓ from 5.80
The issue of shore leave during a pandemic is a troubling one. It would be expected that as most nations have locked down seafarers would be confined to port, and so it has been.
How happy about the food on board? 6.32 ↓ from 6.64
Food is hugely important to the sense of wellbeing onboard. It was also commented by some seafarers that where their companies told them to “stay healthy and boost immune systems” to stave off the effects of Covid, they did so without investing any additional funds and without providing any better quality food.
How happy about your ability to keep fit and healthy on board? 6.35 ↓ from 6.50
The issue of being “fit and healthy” begins to take on a very different meaning during a pandemic, and seafarers spoke out about some of the difficulties they have faced in the past three months in keeping their vessels clean and themselves free from infection.
How happy about contact with family when at sea? 6.53 ↓ from 6.81
There has been an almost constant clamour and demand from seafarers for as cheap and high-quality access to the internet as possible.
How happy with welfare facilities when you are ashore? 5.33 ↓ from 5.55
With seafarers not being allowed ashore, the issue of welfare facilities became far more centred on the reception given to them in the ports they called at.
Overall, seafarers from the Indian Subcontinent continue to dominate the index, making up 37% of the total respondents. However, they scored a fairly average score of 6.35, though marginally up from the last report.
Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, commented
While Q1 showed us how seafarers suffered as COVID-19 struck home and provided insight into the support that was needed, the Q2 report highlights the cost of inaction and the need for immediate solutions. It is paramount that we see progress with crew changeovers, onboard PPE and improved communication between shore and sea, to defuse this ticking time-bomb.
Concluding, the message is obvious: crew changes are needed, and those who can make them happen must do so, now. Only once seafarers can return home to their families and those serving at sea feel safe can we avert the both the immediate and the long-term impact of a mental health crisis among our seafarers.
To view the Q2 Happiness Index click herebelow