Imagine you’re at the sea for months. And mind you, not on a vacation but to serve your country. What thoughts enter your mind? Let me spell them out for you. How happy will I be generally at sea? What about the internet facility? What about contact with family when at sea? Will I be able to talk to them daily? How will my colleagues and captain be? I hope they are a friendly bunch. Oh, and the food! How’s that going to be? How will I remain fit and healthy onboard?
Specifically, being a seafarer means that you are cut off from your loved ones for months or on more recent times over a year due to the pandemic. Seafarers also usually deal with feelings of isolation and loneliness, as they leave behind their friends and families. Therefore, access to the internet and healthcare services should be basic rights, rather than luxuries, as they allow seafarers to stay in touch with their loved ones ashore and ensure their mental and physical wellbeing, while they are in the middle of the ocean.
So, onship, a seafarer welfare communications app, in collaboration with Sharp Crewing Services, recently surveyed over 600 seafarers to understand how well connected they are with the outside world. The questionnaire mainly revolved around digital connectivity, seafarers’ wellbeing, and access to information and internet facilities on board. The survey received a very good response as the participants were eager to share their experiences.
66% of the respondents said they use the most modern and vital source to connect with the world when at sea: the internet. When questioned about internet connectivity on board, 75.4% of respondents said they faced the problem of limited and poor internet speed. 50% of the seafarers said they struggled with easy access to the latest world news as it depended on internet connectivity, speeds, and sometimes cost.
Access to Helplines, Welfare Charities & Doctor Consultation
Apart from internet access, many of the seafarers surveyed showed an interest in investing in their own medical care, with over 59% of mariners confirming they would like to have access to a general practitioner via video conferencing from the privacy of their cabin and through their personal mobile phones. Moreover, 50% would willingly subscribe to a free, video-based doctor consultation if offered and would like access to welfare charities like ISWAN.
Access to information and other services
Is it possible for a seafarer’s family member to track his or her whereabouts? The answer is yes; when you have an app like onship, yes you can. We asked seafarers if they would like their families to have the ability to track their location and current timezone to help improve communication between friends and family without disturbing the seafarer during hours of rest, yes is the short answer. Over 69% of seafarers confirmed they would definitely want their families to use such a service that can track their exact location.
Small things matter. A little bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way. When asked about a planner-come-app, 44% said they would really appreciate it if the app had a facility to help them plan shore leave offline.
Sending money to loved ones and the associated remittance fees remain a cause of concern to many mariners. The survey highlighted that 70% would find it beneficial to route the captain’s cash advance digitally to send money home, along with facilities like money exchange and sports feed.
As the survey neared its end, 80% of the seafarers told us what they would really like to have with them – a custom-made app that primarily
- connects them to their loved ones
- allows them to reach out to multiple services with a single app
The seafarers are the world’s ocean-going superheroes. And it is our duty to continuously support and innovate with our partners and industry peers to ensure they receive the best possible care at sea, in port, or at home.
The next survey findings will be released in Q1 2022 – if you would like to participate, please drop us an email with your details and we will send you the link. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org