According to the Q4 2021 Seafarers Happiness Index, it has been a significant part of the COVID effect that relationships on board have become strained as uncertainty and concerns have risen, while they have improved when seafarers feel more confident with regards to reliefs and leave.
Unfortunately, the Omicron variant situation appears to have had a significant impact, as relationships and interactions on board have become more strained towards the closing weeks of the year.
Where the tensions were evident, there were accusations that crewmates were “selfish, vain and lazy”. It seems that when pressures rise on board, there is a tendency for seafarers to perhaps see the worst in each other. Small disagreements or tensions have a habit of becoming magnified as tensions eat away at relationships and any sense of camaraderie on board.
This was particularly evident on vessels with a significant degree of cultural or national mixing. In times of stress, the social fabric on board can become frayed, and the responses highlight these difficulties.
Some comments spoke of bullying, and an underlying feeling of tension, stress and victimization. Even at low levels, such negatives can cause serious mental health problems for those suffering.
However, it was not all negative. Those who had positive experiences wrote a lot about the actions and activities which seemingly helped to ensure better cohesion. Perhaps as an example that can be used by others, one respondent said that their trips were punctuated by, “Board games, bingo, movies on Saturday, TV and karaoke, even monthly BBQ on deck. We have lots to look forward to and it makes life enjoyable.”
Sadly, for some, working hours mean that there is seldom a chance to relax or talk. The relentless demands of watchkeeping can mean there is little or no opportunity for team building or enjoyment.