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Friday Fun Fact #10: Two-thirds of ship crews have no communication means in the open sea

Updated on 06 Mar 2024
3 min read
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Hello, and welcome to our 10th Friday Fun Fact on the ocean freight industry! How quickly we’ve gone through these weekly series of curious shipping facts! If you recall, we began by telling you that shipping accounts for 90% of world trade. We then explained that it’s the greenest form of transport and how cheap it is to send cargo via container ships! Today, we go on board with the crew and find out about their communication means!

No communication means

Ever thought about what it’s like to live a life on the open sea? It may sound fascinating, but it could be a rather solitary experience - especially if you’re a social media addict! According to research, only two-thirds of all ship crews have no communication means in the open sea. And only about one in ten have freely-available internet! Oh, all those Facebook likes and comments that you’ll only get to see when you’re on land…

For ship crews, phone calls involve a telephone provided by the operator or a computer with which they can send emails while they’re not working. However, more often than not, these costs of these often rack up, in some cases, to 40% of their wages. Furthermore, disputes may arise on smaller vessels where there may be only one telephone to share.

According to a 2012 survey, only one in five ships provide free communication access. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this is limited to text-only emails. Even though most seafarers nowadays have their own smartphones and tablets, they’re often unable to use them until they can access public networks at a port.

Effect on psychological health

In a bid to tackle the possible fatigue and psychological issues that come with this solitude, Sailors’ Society has launched a “Wellness at Sea”. The aim of the program is to promote the health of all on board seafarers. Apart from a crisis response center in South Africa, it also conducts ear and eye testing in India. A psychosocial project in the Philippines, the country with the largest number of seafarers, is also in the making.

Having read all these, don’t you think we should give all our seafarers a round of applause?!

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