Result of survey: not all seafarers get enough shore leave

Since recently the results of the seaferer survey of the Seamen's mission Hamburg-Harburg are available. Although the Corona situation has calmed down, there are still seafarers who do not receive shore leave. Good news is though that there is a high vaccination quota among seafarers. Moreover, bullying does not appear to be any larger of an issue on board than ashore.

For its seafarers survey "Shore Leave for Seafarers in Covid-19", members of staff and volunteers of the German Seamen's mission (DSM) Hamburg-Harburg interviewed 207 seafarers in October of this year. The autours of the survey are Sören Wichmann, head of the Seamen's Club "Duckdalben", and Jörn Hille, responsible for the on-board care work of the DSM Hamburg-Harburg.

The DSM employees interviewed the seafarers either on board (89 seafarers) or at the Seamen's Club "Duckdalben" in Hamburg (118 Seafarers). Surveys in the direct work environment of the seafarers are rare; usually seafarers are contacted during their holidays on-shore. 54% of the queried seafarers hails from the Philippines, 18% from India, 13% from EU states and 4% from the USA. 34% of the questioned seafarers was ranked officer.

The most important results are:

  • When asked "How are you feeling?" most seafarers answered "well" or "very well". However, the authors assume that most of these positive responses, especially by Asian seafarers, is part of polite communication.
  • 88% of the questioned seafarers stated that they have the option for shore leave; however, only half of the queried actually left the ship on shore leave . For 14% of the interviewed the last shore leave had been more than 11 months ago. Most seafarers stated that force majeur or the safety of the ship were given as reasons when shore leave was denied. The authors of the survey highlight that shore leave may only be denied in cases of concrete danger and for specific reasons, not however, as general company policy.
  • In comparison to 2019, there do not seem to be any larger problems during repatriation of seafarers. 81% of seafarers did not view this as an issue.
  • 93% of seafares have been vaccinated against COVID-19. However, only 8% have received a second or booster immunisation shot. Moreover, 53% of the interviewed seafarers did not know which vaccine they had been administered.
  • Bullying and harassment do not appear to be happening to a larger extent on board than what is average in German companies. But the authors assume that seafarers may perceive patronizing and incorrect behaviour much later as bullying than people ashore. 
  • Most seafarers see themselves as mentally strong. The authors ascribe this to the pronounced hierarchy and strict discipline on board which only leaves little room to show emotions.