A study carried out by the ITF Seafarers Trust, with support from Nautilus, found that 90% of seafarers now consider internet access to be the most important port-based service — up from 68% a decade ago.
Internet access has overtaken transport to shops and town, transport to seafarers’ centres, international phone calls, port-based medical clinics and money exchange facilities in the top six most popular welfare services.
The study — which gathered feedback from almost 1,000 seafarers — found that almost three-quarters had only limited or no email access onboard and only 26% had unrestricted access.
Asked how many times they had been able to take shore leave in the previous four weeks, 30% reported none, 35% reported once and 20% twice. Almost two-thirds blamed work onboard as the main reason for failing to get shore leave, followed by 41% citing fast turnaround times and 33% not having enough money. Almost one-third said their ships were usually in port for less than six hours and two thirds reported turnaround times of 24 hours or less.
The report notes that seafarers remain dissatisfied with their internet access despite ‘a steady improvement’ in the provision of services over the past decade. While 45% of seafarers rated port-based internet services as good or excellent, the survey found that none of 13 different port-based welfare services — including chaplaincy, transport, money exchange, phones, and book and film exchange — scored a favourable rating of 50% or more.
Head of the Trust Kimberly Karlshoej said: ‘It's interesting to see that, just like 10 years ago, internet access is still the number one welfare priority, confirming the fact that shipping companies need to work harder to provide a service the modern world takes for granted.’
The survey would help the Trust monitor the perception and experiences of seafarers' using its welfare services and target its resources as a funding organisation, she said.
ITF Seafarers’ Trust has also invited comment on a pilot project to test the feasibility of special ‘communication pods’ for visiting crews.The pods are portable 20ft containers that give seafarers wi-fi access, tablet consoles and furniture to rest on. They are designed to be powered by solar panels, making them energy-efficient and viable for areas lacking in existing infrastructure.
Images: ITF Seafarers Trust
Thursday, February 16, 2017