Training to end nuisance calls from shore to ship

Seafarer charity launches COVID-19 helpline for seafarers and families. Credit: IHS Markit

A training film aims to prevent shore staff phoning ships’ masters in the middle of the night on relatively trivial matters.

Helen Sampson of the Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC), at Cardiff University, has developed the film as a tool to help improve relationships between staff working on ships and on shore.

According to SIRC, research carried out in 2016 with funding by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and TK Foundation identified numerous issues that caused tensions in relationships between sea-based staff and shore-based personnel. This included seafarers feeling that some shore staff who have never worked on board a vessel find it hard to appreciate the shipboard environment and the stresses that are associated with working and living at sea. Furthermore, crew said that awareness of time zones, seafarers’ fatigue, and stress was insufficient among some office-based staff.

A major issue raised by seafarers during the research was being disturbed by calls late at night, being burdened with repeated requests, and being expected to respond rapidly to client demands.

A serving gas carrier master told SAS that, in his experience, such calls and requests were commonplace, disrupted sleep patterns, and posed a “real problem”.

A senior official in seafarers’ union Nautilus International backed this up with an example he had witnessed. While a vessel was being manoeuvred into a very tight lock, and the master was working with the pilot, shore staff phoned him to ask about a storing issue.

Sampson launched the animation at the CrewConnect Global conference in Manila on 6 November. She said, “It is important that shore-based staff and sea-based staff work well together. The purpose of the animated resource is to assist companies in training non-technical shore-based personnel who regularly interact with personnel aboard ships.”

Sampson said that the film aims to increase people’s understanding of what it is like to live and work on board and hoped it would be used widely in the industry.

A SIRC spokesperson told SAS that the animation was launched to a positive reception, adding, “We have already had many requests for the training guide and animation, as well as emails from people relating to the video and congratulating us on a very important contribution.”