Seafarers Happiness Index reveals uptick in Seafarer Wellbeing in Q1 2024


Seafarer feedback from first quarter of 2024 presents a mixed but optimistic outlook, highlighting the positive and negative aspects of life at sea

LONDON, 30 April 2024 – The findings of the latest Seafarers Happiness Index report by the Mission to Seafarers show a positive start to 2024, with an overall increase in happiness from 6.36 in Q4 2023 to 6.94 out of 10 in Q1 2024.  This was driven by a positive trend across all the aspects of seafarer happiness covered by the survey during this period.

The Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) is a quarterly survey undertaken by the Mission to Seafarers, delivered in association with Idwal and NorthStandard, and supported by Inmarsat. The survey offers vital insights into the sentiments and experiences of the men and women that serve at sea.

In contrast to the consistent decline observed in 2023, the Q1 2024 SHI report depicts a mixed but cautiously optimistic rise in satisfaction among seafarers, shedding light on the positive and negative aspects of seafaring life.

The positive shift in seafarer wellbeing reflects improvements in several areas. These include enhanced financial security through fair wages and timely payments, fostering job satisfaction and camaraderie through positive crew relationships, as well as improved connectivity facilitating better communication with loved ones.

Additionally, seafarers reported the benefits of supportive company policies and leadership initiatives promoting crew wellbeing through access to recreational facilities, shore leave, high-quality culturally tailored food, and the prioritisation of health and safety concerns. Comprehensive training programmes have further bolstered seafarer competence and professional development.

Conversely, the report also underscores persistent challenges that will require systemic reforms to improve seafarer wellbeing. These challenges include addressing work-life balance issues such as extended contracts and limited shore leave, which contribute to excessive workloads, stress, and fatigue. Substandard living conditions, connectivity issues – though improved – remain an issue, and disparities in access to welfare facilities are significant concerns. Moreover, poor management practices, including inadequate leadership and discrimination, alongside limited career advancement opportunities and predatory recruitment practices, continue to impact seafarer satisfaction.

A pressing issue highlighted in Q1 2024 is the persistent allegations of fraudulent working hours reporting, resulting in inadequate rest periods and compromised safety standards. Seafarers are increasingly expressing unease and scepticism toward reported working hours’ accuracy, with a reluctance to speak out against potential misconduct. The manual nature of the process combined with a lack of contextual factors is perceived as inherently vulnerable to fraudulent activities, raising doubts about data integrity and effectiveness in capturing the nuanced realities of seafaring life.

Andrew Wright, Secretary-General, The Mission to Seafarers, said: “After the depressing slump in seafarer happiness that we witnessed in 2023, it is encouraging to see a brighter start to 2024. We are cautiously optimistic that this points towards a better year ahead for seafarers, but sustained improvement will require meaningful action. Between us, we have the tools at our disposal to make a difference to the lives of those working at sea, and it is up to us to act. 

Despite the challenges they face, seafarers continue to demonstrate remarkable resilience. The Mission to Seafarers remains committed to amplifying seafarers’ voices, advocating for meaningful reforms, and fostering a culture of respect, inclusivity, openness, and integrity within the industry. Together, we strive to build a maritime industry that not only values seafarers’ contributions, but also safeguards their wellbeing and happiness at sea.

Yves Vandenborn, Head of Loss Prevention Asia-Pacific at NorthStandard, commented: “As an organisation advocating for seafarer wellbeing, NorthStandard finds it heartening that the Index captures rising seafarer happiness levels in the first quarter of 2024, especially given the decline reported in 2023. We are also encouraged that the overall increase from 6.36 / 10 to 6.94 is driven by gains across all 10 markers used, instead of a selective few. NorthStandard will continue to raise awareness of the experiences of seafarers, and we believe it is crucial that we capture more data about all of those working at sea. We therefore also welcome the fact that female participation in the SHI this quarter was at its strongest ever, representing just over 9% of all respondents.

Thom Herbert, Senior Marine Surveyor and Crew Welfare Advocate at Idwal, added: “The Q1 2024 Seafarers Happiness Index highlights both progress made and areas requiring further improvement. We are encouraged by the positive trends, particularly around financial security, crew relationships, and enhanced training opportunities. However, we must remain vigilant in addressing persistent challenges like work-life balance, substandard accommodations, and any discriminatory practices that undermine seafarer dignity and morale. Idwal remains committed to championing transparency, accountability, and a culture of care that empowers seafarers to thrive both professionally and personally.”

The Mission to Seafarers, in collaboration with industry partners, is actively addressing the ongoing challenges affecting seafarer wellbeing, providing direct support through a global network of seafarers’ centres and ship visits, chaplains, staff and volunteers, and digital solutions like the ‘Happy at Sea’ app for seafarers.

The Mission would also like to express its appreciation to the shipping companies and shore managers who encouraged crew to participate, as well as to the seafarers who took the time to complete the survey.

We encourage more seafarers to step forward and share their experiences, as their contributions are fundamental in driving positive changes within the industry.

To read the full Seafarers Happiness Index report for Q1 2024, click here.

About The Mission to Seafarers
The Mission to Seafarers provides help and support to the 1.89 million men and women who face danger every day to keep our global economy afloat. The Mission works in over 200 ports in 50 countries caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs. Through its global network of chaplains, staff and volunteers, we offer practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers through ship visits, drop-in seafarers’ centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services.
The Seafarers Happiness Index is a barometer of the key issues facing those at sea, conducted every three months. Seafarers are asked ten key questions about their experiences, via an online survey.

About Idwal
Idwal is a global leader in vessel inspections, benchmarking and analysis, driving asset integrity, sustainability, and transparency in the maritime industry.
Idwal deploys a rigorous and standardised inspection process, underpinned by digital methodology covering 500+ on-board data points, to deliver market-leading inspection reports featuring the Idwal Grade®, a number between 1 and 100 showing the integrity of any maritime asset or investment whilst enabling easy comparisons at a glance.
Founded in 2010 by Graig Shipping PLC, Idwal is based in Cardiff, UK, with offices in Shanghai, Tokyo and Athens, and with an extensive surveyor network around the globe.

About NorthStandard
NorthStandard is one of the leading providers of global marine insurance products and services across the maritime industries. Established through the merger of North P&I Club and the Standard Club in February 2023, NorthStandard brings together over 300 years of marine insurance heritage. ‘A’ rated by S&P Global, NorthStandard has a premium income around US$800M and provides cover for over 390 million GT of owned and chartered tonnage.
From headquarters in the UK and with offices throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, NorthStandard offers a unique blend of worldwide presence and class-leading expertise across multiple specialist areas, including P&I, FD&D, War Risks, Strike & Delay, Hull and Machinery and ancillary insurance. Its Sunderland Marine and Coastal & Inland divisions also provide cover for owners’ fixed premium P&I, fishing vessels, inland waterway and coastal trading vessels and aquaculture. NorthStandard’s comprehensive local market and sector knowledge is underpinned by continuous investments in market-leading digital technologies.
NorthStandard is a leading member of the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG) and is fully committed to upholding the shared objectives of its 12 independent member clubs, which provide liability cover for approximately 90% of the world’s ocean-going tonnage.
About Inmarsat
Inmarsat Maritime is now a Viasat business and continues to power the digitalisation of the maritime industry, making operations more efficient and safer than ever before. Viasat is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. With offices in 24 countries around the world, our mission shapes how consumers, businesses, governments and militaries around the world communicate and connect. Viasat is developing the ultimate global communications network to power high-quality, reliable, secure, affordable, fast connections to positively impact people’s lives anywhere they are—on the ground, in the air or at sea, while building a sustainable future in space. On May 30, 2023, Viasat completed its acquisition of Inmarsat, combining the teams, technologies and resources of the two companies to create a new global communications partner.

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