According to the latest Seafarers Happiness Index for Q1 2021, relationships onboard are usually the highest-rated aspect of life at sea, however there are some causes for concern creeping in as responses captured a rather tense environment onboard the vessels.
The stresses of COVID-19, the uncertainty of crew changes and the problems for seafarers of having to worry about the safety and wellbeing of their families at home are starting to take a toll. There are indications of frayed nerves, which in turn is jeopardizing the usually positive relationships.
Seafarers spoke of running out of patience with colleagues, or of feeling frustrated by perceived issues surrounding the conduct of others. With some crews stuck onboard for many months longer than expected, it is not unsurprising that tensions are beginning to be felt.
There were criticisms of mixed nationality manning models, and this was particularly with regards to the impact of COVID. It was stated that some nationalities were not allowed ashore or for crew changes, while others were. This was a source of great tension and strain on a vessel.
There is growing resentment where some seafarers were treated differently from others. Indeed, all want to be treated the same way, with dignity and with the due recognition of the importance they play as key workers.
This issue of status came up repeatedly, and there is a growing sense of frustration that the world does not seem to understand or fully appreciate seafarers. “Without us, so many countries would struggle for food and fuel, how aren’t we seen as key?” asked one seafarer.